The Simpsons' Tipping Episode Underscores Season 35's Big Political Theme

The Simpsons' Tipping Episode Underscores Season 35's Big Political Theme

The following contains spoilers for The Simpsons Season 35 Episode 17, "The Tipping Point," which is now streaming on Hulu

Summary Season 35 of The Simpsons focuses on the wage gap and working class needs.

Homer's liberal tipping approach in "The Tipping Point" highlights issues with the current economic system.

Episodes in season 35 address class divides and mistreatment of workers in Springfield.

The Simpsons has been openly embracing a core political theme throughout season 35, with "The Tipping Point" highlighting the show's modern thematic arc. One of the things that makes The Simpsons so enduring is the way the show has evolved over the last three decades to encompass all sorts of themes and concepts, allowing the creatives behind-the-scenes to touch upon an ever-changing world with a group of uniquely static characters. Despite this, there have been some elements of the show that have been consistent across the entire run of the series, like The Simpsons political views.

Many of the show's ideologies and themes have been touched upon over the decades, such as the show's overall left-leaning views on politics and society. While The Simpsons has always been good about poking fun at everyone and everything, openly political characters like Lisa have stood out in contrast to the show's more sardonic approach to fundamentalist characters like Ned Flanders or overt Republicans like Mr. Burns. This has been especially true in season 35, which has seeded one particularly political theme throughout most of the season's episodes.

Related The Simpsons Season 35's Barbenheimer Moment Missed A Major Opportunity The Barbenheimer reference in season 35 of The Simpsons misses a golden opportunity to reference classic episodes of the show.

What The Simpsons Season 35 Has Really Been About

How The Simpsons Has Become About The Wage Gap


A major theme of The Simpsons season 35 has focused on the wage gap and the needs of the working class in comparison to the frequently out-of-touch and villainous rich. "The Tipping Point" focuses on Homer inadvertently giving a massive tip to a restaurant server, which leads him to almost bankrupt the family by being overly generous with tips. This plays into season 35's overarching focus on the average worker and their attempts to earn a living wage, which has taken place across several episodes. "The Tipping Point" highlights how many people in Springfield don't make a living wage.

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Because of this, Homer becomes a hero for his liberal approach to Tipping, but is quickly attacked when he instead argues the businesses need to change their practices to properly pay workers. The episode ends with Homer getting a taste of that industry when he becomes a server to help replenish the family's savings. Conflicts between the wealthy and the average citizens have been at the heart of several episodes in season 35, either as the focus of the episode (as in "The Tipping Point") or as a secondary element of the episode.

The Simpsons' Tipping Episode Builds Off Of Season 35's Best Episode

Homer & Marge See Both Sides Of The Gig Economy

One of the clearest parallels in the season is between "The Tipping Point" and "Night Of The Living Wage." That episode also focused on the restaurant industry, but from the worker's perspective. "Night Of The Living Wage" centered around Marge as an overworked employee in the gig economy. Marge's exhaustion at work and frustration with her treatment by her villainous manager Gil led her to try and unionize her fellow workers. That episode positioned Homer and the other customers of Springfield as unwitting (and sometimes willing) enemies of the workers, demanding they resume their low-paid jobs.

"The Tipping Point" highlights how the divided workers of Springfield can't unite behind demanding living wages, whereas the ultimately successful union of "Night Of The Living Wage" ensured that the workers all earned enough money to support themselves and their families. "The Tipping Point" builds off the themes of "Night Of The Living Wage" and showcases how the customers and the workers alike are hurt by the current economic system in Springfield. The episodes work as counterpoints to one another, underscoring how neither party wins when all of Springfield turns on itself instead of solving the problem.

Related The Simpsons Season 35 Revived The Show’s Most Embarrassing Bad Habit The Simpsons season 35 episode 17 revived a bad habit that has dragged down earlier seasons of the series, wasting screen time in the process.

The Simpsons Season 35 Has Been All About The Wage Gap

Even Non-Political Episodes Of The Simpsons Have Called Out The Wealthy

Although those episodes have been the clearest examples of The Simpsons embracing an anti-captalistic message in season 35, the rest of the season has explored similar themes. "Thirst Trap: A Corporate Love Story" and "It's a Blunderful Life" highlighted Mr. Burns' villainy and willingness to endanger others in pursuit of his own happiness. "Ae Bonny Romance" revealed Willie's greatest romance was almost ruined by Maisie's father and his attempt to use Willie just for his ability to make them money. "Murder, She Boat" and "Lisa Gets an F1" included cartoonishly evil rich people using their resources to cheat the system.

"Iron Mage" and "The Tell-Tale Pants" highlighted how status in a community can be derived from wealth, and how that impacts a family. "Do the Wrong Thing" and "Frinkenstein's Monster" showcased Homer taking advantage of situations to enrich himself, with both episodes underscoring the damage this can have. Even largely unpolitical episodes like Larry's death in "Cremains of the Day" touch on the financial straights of average Springfielders, revealing that the deceased Charlie was on Fat Tony's payroll. The theme of "the wealthy versus the rest" has been core to The Simpsons season 35.

How The Simpsons Has Embraced Its Political Leanings

The Simpsons Has Always Been Poltical

The Simpsons has always had political leanings, going all the way back to the show's early seasons. Characters like Mr. Burns have never been portrayed in a sympathetic light, and Golden Age episodes like season 2's "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish," season 3's "Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington," and season 4's "Last Exit to Springfield" have underscored the show's views on capitalism and corruption. Recent seasons have also done a good job of highlighting this, especially season 33's "Poorhouse Rock." Season 35 has been chiefly rooted in this discussion though.

The season's themes of class divide and mistreatment of workers are prevalent. It's been an interesting way for the show to explore modern political discourse while still retaining the show's trademark character focus and goofy digressions. This has given the season a thematic drive that keeps it relevant with modern politics, even when the show can't keep up with meme-culture due to the realities of production cycles. The Simpsons fully embracing its political roots and themes is a good sign for the show, and proves it still has things to say over three and half decades since it premiered.

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