Because of its quick, streamlined production methods, Comedy Central’s South Park can and often does take on controversial current events. With the molasses-slow turnaround time required by its more traditional animation, The Simpsons does not have that luxury. At least, the prime time series doesn’t. But The Simpsons: Tapped Out, a mobile “freemium” game, can cover more recent material by means of its newly created “quests,” which are conveyed mostly through printed dialogue. Whether that’s a good thing is the subject of a thought-provoking post at Andrew Bloom’s The Andrew Blog. According to Bloom, Tapped Out used a story about a minor supporting character, mafia blabbermouth Frankie The Squealer, to comment on the Caitlyn Jenner story in a contrived and clumsy fashion. In his quest to become mayor and rule Springfield, Frankie passes himself off as a woman named Francine The Squealer for a short while.
While the game may not be canonical, Bloom says, it is still “created by the same brain-trust behind the TV show.” He singles out Tapped Out’s current “gamerunner,” J. Stewart Burns, who has also written episodes of the TV series like “Simpsorama” and “Eternal Moonshine Of The Spotless Mind.”
Unfortunately, Tapped Out doesn’t really have anything to say about Caitlyn Jenner and merely uses topicality as a cheap gimmick. Bloom explains why Simpsons fans should care about this and why it reflects badly on the franchise in general:
Part of what made The Simpsons great at its peak was its ability to comment on hot button social issues with wit, insight and above all, a unique comedic voice. In its heydey, the show tackled everything from religion to immigration to homosexuality with a sharp sense of humor, a near-perfect balance of boundary-pushing and sensitivity, and a healthy dose of witty satire. Even after the series’ glory years, many of the show’s better episodes have involved a take on modern trends or issues of national concern.
Unfortunately, in its cavalier treatment of the Jenner story, Bloom says, The Simpsons failed to live up to the high standards it has set for itself.