An Uncensored, Unauthorized History
By John Ortved
(Faber & Faber, Paperback, 9780865479395, 352pp.)
Publication Date: October 12, 2010
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The Simpsons is one of the most successful shows to ever run on television. From its first moment on air, the series's rich characters, subversive themes, and layered humor resounded deeply with audiences both young and old who wanted more from their entertainment than what was being meted out at the time by the likes of Full House, Growing Pains, and Family Matters. Spawned as an animated short on The Tracy Ullman Show—mere filler on the way to commercial breaks—the series grew from a controversial cult favorite to a mainstream powerhouse, and after nineteen years the residents of Springfield no longer simply hold up a mirror to our way of life: they have ingrained themselves into it. John Ortved's oral history will be the first-ever look behind the scenes at the creation and day-to-day running of The Simpsons, as told by many of the people who made it: among them writers, animators, producers, and network executives. It’s an intriguing yet hilarious tale, full of betrayal, ambition, and love. Like the family it depicts, the show's creative forces have been riven by dysfunction from the get-go—outsize egos clashing with studio executives and one another over credit for and control of a pop-culture institution. Contrary to popular belief, The Simpsons did not spring out of one man's brain, fully formed, like a hilarious Athena. Its inception was a process, with many parents, and this book tells the story.
John Ortved's writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, Interview, The New York Observer, and Vice. He lives in New York City.
"Ortved's "uncensored, unauthorized" history... is as tasty as a pink-glazed donut with sprinkles, as refreshing as a Duff beer and as piquant as a curry slushy from Kwik-E Mart." —Louis Bayard, The Washington Post "A gloriously windy oral history crammed with behind-the-scenes squabbles and power grabs...I completely devoured The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History, even if I felt a little bad afterward for the central players who got sucker punched. The early details, as show creator Matt Groening goes from obscure alt-weekly cartoonist to megamogul via talent and chance, remain a well-known showbiz tale. John Ortved's sources (including artist Art Spiegelman) tell it in a fresh, vivid way. The subsequent testimony about the empire Groening created is contentious and mesmerizing." —Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly "Mr. Ortved has produced a 300-page combination of juicy entertainment gossip, rich television history and notes from a disenchanted lover." —Lisa Tozzi, The New York Times "Brisk and engaging and likely to entertain Simpsons die-hards without breaking a sweat...a good balance between information and gossip; between a story about simmering creativity and a story about flawed human beings who showed their flaws -- as many do -- more and more as the money accumulated...a rich read for fans." —Linda Holmes, NPR "Ortved has done a remarkable job of bringing to light the creators of our beloved four-fingered creatures with the bright yellow skin." —Publisher's Weekly “An essential resource for any fan.”—John Williams, The Second Pass “Ortved’s account is remarkably thorough, witty, and stands as likely the best Simpsons volume we'll see for some time to come.” —Under the Radar “All of those people providing their perspectives on the founding of The Simpsons builds a multifaceted history of a television revolution and institution. If anyone has any interest in codifying the building of one of the most important pieces of American pop culture, The Simpsons: The Uncensored, Unauthorized History is a very effective, very worthwhile read.” —Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama