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The Much-Hated Episode That Rewrote Simpsons History

"The Simpsons" is one of the most ubiquitous series of all time, and it has had a significant impact on comedy television as we know it. First airing in the late '80s, the cartoon show has gone on to debut hundreds upon hundreds of episodes and rack up a few dozen Emmys. It has also been named one of the best programs of all time. The pop-culture juggernaut will forever be cemented in history, as will its titular family of wacky yellow characters. 

"The Simpsons" is all about Homer Simpson and his family life with his wife Marge and their three kids, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The Simpsons are a nuclear (and oftentimes dysfunctional) family living in the fictional town of Springfield. The town is full of wacky residents who provide plenty of social commentary, satire, and downright hilarious humor to the show. But when looking through its 700-plus episodes, there is one moment that pinpoints a major shift in the series. 

The Simpsons' grunge episode totally changed the show's timeline

"The Simpsons" has previously featured flashbacks and wonky timelines to convey the bigger picture of the story. In one episode from Season 2, the show told the tale of Marge and Homer's love life. The pair met while attending high school in the '70s and fell in love. First came marriage, then a few babies, and the rest was history. That is — until the episode titled "That '90s Show" aired during the show's 19th season.

The episode essentially undid the entire story of Marge and Homer's relationship. It shows them as a young, childless couple in the early '90s, with Marge attending college and Homer initially working at his dad's laser tag warehouse. Rather than tell a fairytale love story, the episode shows a break period in Homer and Marge's relationship where they explore other options in life — while Marge falls for her feminist professor, Homer's grunge band rises in popularity. Such a premise totally flipped the story viewers knew into something brand new, confusing fans in regard to the timeline. 

Fans were outraged by the drastic change in continuity

On Reddit, u/moon_at_the_wayside pointed out that the episode "changes the entire continuity of the series" for the sake of jokes that ultimately fell flat and references that contradicted Homer's past opinions on rock music. Another Redditor, u/LockheedMartinLuther, quoted another "Simpsons" character, Comic Book Guy, declaring that "That '90s Show" is the "worst episode ever."

Fans on Twitter share the sentiment, with user @Syd_Lexia also going as far to say that out of all the episodes of "The Simpsons", "That 90s Show" is among the worst of the worst. 

Following the controversy over a Season 32 episode that shifted the series' timeline by portraying Homer as a teenager in the early '90s, "The Simpsons" executive producer Matt Selman responded to the criticism on Twitter and somewhat explained the time change. "'The Simpsons' is a 32-year-old series where the characters do not age, so the 'canon' must be elastic/contradictory/silly," he wrote. In a now-deleted tweet (via Daily Mail), Selman expounded, adding, "None of this happened. It's all made up. Every episode is its own Groundhog Day that only has [to] make sense for that story."