You can’t watch the Simpsons without growing to love Grampa Simpson, Homer’s dad, Abraham J. Simpson. Whether he is living with the Simpsons, watching the kids, or living at Springfield Retirement Castle, his unique look at life not only makes us laugh, it satires our own “Greatest Generation.” By showing a supporting character such as Grampa Simpson in such detail, it allows the creators to comment on the World War II generation, being a grandparent, and growing older.
One of the best features of the Simpsons series is the fact that they show a variety of ages, all together. However, when it comes to representing the older generation, the only other older character that is heavily featured on the series, besides Grampa Simpson, is Montgomery Burns, the money-grubbing, filthy rich owner of the Nuclear Power Plant (i.e. Homer’s boss). There are several other small supporting characters that reoccur throughout the series, such as Marge’s mom, and even aging hippy Mona Simpson – Homer’s fugitive mom. In Grampa Simpson, however, we are presented with a loveable Grampa who schemes, swears, and is forgetful. At the same time, he truly loves his son’s family. Unlike Montgomery Burns, the other regular WW II era (if not older) regular, Grampa Simpson is a goodhearted individual who knows the meaning of sacrifice and hard work – a nice contrast to Burns’s greed.
Like many of the Greatest Generation, Grampa Simpson fought in World War II, settled down to create a family after the war, worked hard at various jobs, and then retired. Upon retirement, he lived with his son’s family for a while, only then to move into a retirement home – Springfield Retirement Castle. His interaction with the people there is priceless; it offers a lot of commentary on growing older, how we treat elders in our society, and much more. We see him fall in love again, only to lose his new love to death.
In addition, we see his interaction with his grandkids on the obligatory Sunday visits. Grampa Simpson loves to tell his grandkids stories of his childhood, much to their chagrin. In addition, Grampa Simpson visits the Simpsons home on several occasions; many times, it is in the role of babysitter. Despite his better judgment, he lets Bart, Lisa, and Maggie get away with just about anything, just like many grandparents in real life. In the Simpsons interaction with Grampa Simpson, we aren’t treated to an idealized version of what that relationship should be. We are treated to a realistic portrayal of a grandfather with his grandkids, as well as a realistic portrayal of the relationship between an elderly father and his grown son.
Grampa Simpson is every bit as much of a member of the Simpson family as Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. He knows it and reminds the rest of the Simpson family constantly. As a result, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie are fortunate to have a real relationship with their grandfather. They might not appreciate it now, but they will once they get older. Marge keeps telling her children that, and it is a wonderful message that all children need to hear. I heard it from my own Mom and have never regretted a single second I’ve spent with my Grandparents.