Last Sunday on The Simpsons, the show sent Principal Skinner and Superintendant Chalmers on a road trip for an education convention. Entitled “The Road Trip To Cincinnati”, the episode was filled to the brim with references to the 513, and for the most part, it was very well received. Fans had nice things to say about it on social media, and Cincinnati residents were impressed by how detailed the depiction was. Unfortunately, the episode got one small detail wrong and it has been driving executive producer Matt Selman crazy.
During “The Road Trip To Cincinnati”, Skinner and Chalmers stop off at the Ludlow Skyline. Many local fans were impressed by the reference, but the characters were shown eating chili out of bowls, which is not how it’s actually done. They should have eaten off plates, which wasn’t lost on Selman, who is always open to hilariously pointing out animation mistakes or talking about the show's challenges. Here’s what he told WVXU…
Someone here pointed out that Skinner and Chalmers were eating their chili in bowls, and that's not how they serve it, and I was really annoyed. I felt like we kind of failed, that we didn’t get that detail right. The chili should have been on plates, and eating it like cutting a piece of a pie with a fork. I mean, the show is so expensive to change, I would get yelled at so bad if I went and opened up the show, put in a retake, re-mastered it and sent it out. Oh my God, that would have cost a lot of money. I'll go to my grave over those giant bowls. Those horrible massive bowls!
I get the frustration. There’s nothing more annoying than working really hard on something and realizing later that a small detail was incorrect. That being said, you can’t watch the episode and not appreciate how much time and effort went into doing the city right. The view of the downtown is very detailed and accurate, and there are plenty of little jokes and comments locals will appreciate. Many older fans also got a kick out of the usage of the WKRP in Cincinnati music.
Unlike a show like South Park that is created with crude animation in order to be as time sensitive and relevant as possible, The Simpsons has a much more detailed animation process, and the production time on episodes is a whole lot longer. Because of that, it’s much more complicated to fix details later on. I’m sure that’s annoying for the people who work on the show, but given it also gives the show its power to throw in more sight gags and background jokes, I think they’ll take the tradeoff.
The Simpsons is currently in its 32nd season. I just looked it up, and it still feels like a typo when I write it. There are a lot of reasons you could point to for its long-term success, but at least one minor one is how careful and detailed they are when the characters visit a place or participate in an activity. It’s always clear how much research and love was put into it, and if you don’t believe me, just ask the people of Cincinnati.