America’s Greatest Sitcom

Wrapping up the Vulture’s “Sitcom Smackdown,” Matt Zoller Seitz calls Cheers “a flawless pearl glinting on a beach. But The Simpsons is the beach”:

At some point in its run, the show transcended aesthetic concerns and became an institution, a juggernaut, a public utility, a monument, and (yes, really) a living document that’s probably quoted as widely and frequently as the Bible, and with a lot more enthusiasm. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Simpsons ran for another twenty years, or until one of its principals croaked of old age. (What if it’s Dan Castellaneta and it happens during taping? One last Homeric wail of anguish! They’d probably weave it into the final episode, the way John Travolta did with Nancy Allen’s dying scream at the end of Blow Out.) Plus, at a certain point, indestructibility trumps every other value — especially if the artists in question have earned a spot in the pop culture pantheon, as The Simpsons surely has.

Related coverage of South Park and Arrested Development here.