Some things in life can feel a little impossible, but there’s one thing that we’re glad just doesn’t feel realistic, and that’s being able to skip past The Simpsons when it’s on TV, pushing past in search of something else that’s on. Let’s face it, you’re not going to find something better than unrivaled perfection.
Created by Matt Groening, the animated sitcom debuted in 1989 and has since grown to become the most popular offering in its genre.
Spending time in Springfield with the titular family is one thing, but the supporting characters are all so great that the majority deserve a TV show solely dedicated to them. There is no shortage of reasons that The Simpsons stands out to viewers, but one of them that’s definitely worth dwelling on and explaining is the characters’ appearance… why are The Simpsons yellow?
Matt helped explain the intriguing creative decision during an interview with CBBC while promoting The Simpsons Movie in 2007:
“An animator came up with the Simpsons’ yellow and as soon as she showed it to me I said, ‘This is the answer!’ When you’re flicking through channels with your remote control, and a flash of yellow goes by, you’ll know you’re watching The Simpsons.”
Ultimately, yellow is the color that draws the eye the most and attracts immediate attention. So, when people at home are whizzing through channels, that flash of yellow animation will stop them in their tracks and draw them in, while announcing within a second that it’s The Simpsons, with no room for uncertainty.
It’s funny because perhaps all of us have been in this exact scenario countless times, feeling our hearts skip a beat when we stumble across an episode when we’re in need of some quality entertainment.
That being said, the choice to have most of the Springfield residents yellow also branches out into other practical reasons. For example, one of the writers, Matt Reiss, once noted in his book that characters like Bart and Lisa have no line to separate hair and skin, so choosing yellow meant it was “kinda skin, kinda hair.”
Shedding even more light in My Wasted Life—a documentary released in 2000—Matt also commented that the yellow design “looks like there’s something wrong with your TV set,” and that this also reinforced something symbolic about the sitcom, as The Simpsons represent the nuclear family on the surface but are anything but conventional.
All in all, it’s really hard to imagine what The Simpsons would’ve looked like if they hadn’t been inspired to think outside of the box on this one. Perhaps it wouldn’t have taken off the way it did. Everything was just perfect.