I'm not even sure if this is an accurate statement. I mean, yes, many of the shows on television now, especially on the "underdog networks" and even now on the big three are mirroring The Simpsons prototype of the disfunctional family comedy, the others now apeing the group of young yuppies format popularized by Seinfeld, The Simpsons, I maintain, has managed to keep its individuality, to keep one step ahead.

To this effect I cite the past couple seasons. Unless you've just been watching the show in syndication, you will notice that the show has just been getting plain weird. Really plain weird. To cite a few examples, last season the show revealed that jockeys are really elves who live underground (in the same episode, incidentally, the show actually makes fun of its own repetition of motifs and those that harp on them when comic-book-guy points out the fact that Lisa, who gets a horse in this episode, had had a horse before, and homer had been forced to take a second job, "with hilareous consequences".) And THIS season has really cut the mold open from the first episode, where in the first five minutes they throw so many bizzare jokes and oddities at you that you stop wondering whether the writers were on drugs and start wondering if you are. Skinner's Sense of Snow was also incredibly odd (and again played the show continuity error card when Flanders asks Homer whatever happened to his plow and Homer, wearing the Mr. Plow jacket and humming the Mr. Plow song ("call Mr. Plow. That's my name. that name again is Mr. Plow denies ever having had a snow plow.) Taking the cake however, and amazing me was The Computer Wore Menace Shoes. The entire episode was a tribute to the late 60's television show The Prisoner, which is not exactly mainstream and is more than a little odd. And yet The Simpsons, a show with undeniable mass appeal and watched by many, managed to make a show that would amuse the hell out of maybe ten percent of its viewership, and leave the rest dumbfounded, but satisfied.

Even if The Simpsons reflects popular culture a little too well, that's not necessarily a bad thing; the best art SHOULD resonate with its time and its audience. The Simpsons is undoubtedly both a reflection and an agent in the world in which it lives, and we should be grateful rather than disgusted that it has managed to reach so many despite its intelligence and odd humor.