In a recent episode of “The Simpsons” titled “McMansion & Wife,” the show made a significant change to one of its longest-running gags in an effort to align with changing times and societal sensibilities.
The episode, which aired on October 22, featured a scene where Homer Simpson met his new neighbor Thayer and shook hands. Thayer commented on Homer’s grip, to which Homer humorously responded, “See, Marge, strangling the boy has paid off. Just kidding. I don’t do that anymore.” He then added with a smile, “Times have changed!”
Homer’s strangulation of his oldest child, Bart, has been a recurring comedic element on the show since its debut in 1989. However, in the recent episode, the character declared that he no longer engages in such behavior.
Notably, the show had not depicted Homer strangling Bart for several years prior to this change. According to IGN, the last time it happened on screen was during the show’s 31st season, which aired from 2019 to 2020.
“The Simpsons” has undergone revisions and reconsiderations of its content in response to shifting societal norms in recent years. One of the most notable changes involved the character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, an Indian-American character formerly voiced by Hank Azaria. The character was criticized for perpetuating negative stereotypes, which led to the creation of the 2017 documentary “The Problem with Apu.”
Hank Azaria stepped down from the role in January 2020, acknowledging that it was the right decision. The character of Apu has since made background appearances in the series, and a replacement voice actor has not been announced.
The show also announced in February 2021 that the character Dr. Hibbert, who is Black, would be recast with Kevin Michael Richardson after being voiced by Harry Shearer, who is White, for many years.