The Simpsons has been on television for as long as our childhood can remember, with the season 33 finale airing this Sunday. As a result, a few aspects of its basic supposition do not align with the modern economic context.
A modern audience might think how knobheads such as Homer (Dan Castellaneta) can manage to buy and sustain a house and a car on a single income. Well, the solution is now within reach.
X-Men’s Hugh Jackman will appear in the forthcoming season finale to spell out the history of the American middle class – in a musical performance, of course.
This cameo is Jackman’s debut on The Simpsons, following his declining the offer because of a scheduling conflict. In an EW exclusive preview, Jackman can be seen flaunting his singing chops.
“My understanding is that we offered him a part a few years ago, and he wanted to do it but was swamped for time,” says Tim Long, an episode writer, in an interview with EW.
“This time, he was available and gave us an enthusiastic yes! He also loved the part and the song we wrote for him, which I think really play to his enormous talents.”
The episode follows Jackman voicing a janitor at the nuclear power plant where Homer works. Bart (Nancy Cartwright) went with his father to the workplace, where the janitor spells out how the era after World War II offered prosperity to the American middle class that enabled individuals such as Homer to thrive even with their failings.
But then “gradually, it all went to hell,” as Jackman sings.
“We were intrigued and amused by an article in The Atlantic titled, ‘The Life in the Simpsons Is No Longer Attainable,’” says Long.
“At first, we thought it was pretty funny. The Simpsons is a cartoon, after all, and the show’s relationship with money is very fungible. Homer once got his hands on a trillion-dollar bill and immediately tried to use it in a soda machine.”
Long adds, “but the more we thought about it, the more we thought The Atlantic had a point. Homer really does belong to the last generation of people who can hold a good, middle-class job with benefits for life without some sort of higher degree.
“There’s no way Bart will have that. And then, after ruminating about that for a few days, we came to the inevitable conclusion: It’s got to be a musical! And we gotta get both Hugh Jackman and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich! From there, it all kinda came together.”
Long’s telling the whole truth. While he isn’t seen in the EW exclusive preview, Reich, who was the US Labor Secretary during President Bill Clinton’s term, does appear in the episode as himself to aid in elaborating the history of the American middle-class recession.