My review is now up at Popmatters: here.
Imagine you are waiting tables at a wedding reception. You wander among the tables, filling glasses and laying down plates of food. You are likely to hear snippets of conversation, most likely about the bride and groom, about their families, about their past, their plans, their future. What you hear will likely be out of context, sometimes probably even incorrect, contradictory. The groom works for a bank. No, he’s in real estate. The bride may or may not be done with medical school. An uncle–his, hers, you didn’t hear–may be an alcoholic. Or is he just melancholic?
You finish serving the guests. You go home. You think about the newlyweds. Would you say you know them, or learned much about them? Would you even be able to recall from whom you obtained your “facts”?
John Ortved wants your answer to be “yes”. He wants this to be your answer because the style in which he has written The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History is “an oral history”. In other words, 99 per cent of his book is direct quotes from the people involved. This style of reportage, quote after quote after quote, produces an exhausting book that does little to expand on the idea that (news flash!) television is a collaborative business with massive egos involved.