What the Simpsons Can Teach Us About The Law
Although on the surface it looks like a crude children’s show with yellow characters and silly voices, The Simpsons is actually a very intelligent and well written commentary on popular culture and modern society. This animated sitcom, created by Matt Groening, is a satirical parody of middle class America and has been named the best TV series of the 20th century by Time Magazine.
My friends at Prime Lawyers asked me what I thought about The Simpsons and the effects these cult cartoons have on kids and their attitude towards the law. I think that The Simpsons has made a lot of commentary on legal matters over the years, mostly to critique frivolous lawsuits and bad lawyers.
The “Suing” Culture
In the Simpsons episode entitled “New Kid on the Block”, Homer is thrown out of an all-you-can-eat-restaurant for eating too much. He decides to sue the restaurant for “the worst case of false advertising since the film “Never Ending Story”. Homer is branded as a “hero”, but this situation is a direct parody of our litigious modern society. Instead of acting within the law and solving disputes with understanding and reason, too many people in this modern age are quick to blame others and take legal action. By parodying this, the Simpsons makes its viewers aware of how ridiculous this behaviour is and how it takes away from legitimate law proceedings.
Parodying Bad Quality Lawyers
Whenever The Simpsons family is in trouble, they call up their lawyer – a character called Lionel Hutz. He is a hilarious parody of the worst possible lawyer stereotypes and generally ends up losing the case. He exaggerates his education (claiming to have attended both Harvard and Yale as well as The Louvre) and fumbles his way through the proceedings (after explaining that he learned all he knew about law from watching “Matlock” in a bar with the sound turned off).
Hutz represents the worst of lawyer advertising, as his law firm is called “I Can’t Believe It’s a Law Firm” and it offers “cases won in thirty minutes or your pizza is free”. He even offers Homer a free gift with purchase of a fake pearl necklace, marketing tactics that are equal to those of a discount store in a shopping mall rather than a high quality professional. When Lionel Hutz gets up to defend them in court and asks them judge for a “bad court thingy” when he means “mistrial”, it’s clear that the Simpsons have gotten what they paid for.
The Simpsons gives us a hilarious critique on our modern overly litigious culture and the flaws and dangers of hiring poor quality lawyers. It makes for a great laugh, but it’s also an important message. In real life the law is often not a laughing matter – which means that it is important to choose a professional lawyer who can construct a quality case in order to get you the result you deserve.