Up to now, in season 33 of The Simpsons, the show has continued to count on celebrity guest stars in almost every episode, resulting in a string of episodes that spend more time bringing in new characters than emphasizing the titular family’s misadventures. Celebrity guests have been a part of what makes The Simpsons great since the show’s inception over thirty years ago. Over the years, the anarchic animated sitcom has wrangled some impressive names and consistently wrung funny, self-deprecating performances from actors, singers, and public figures alike.
Even stars who decline cameo roles on The Simpsons (such as Bob Dylan) pave the way for a more game big name to take their place. While there is nothing inherently wrong with celebrities showing up on The Simpsons, the long-running series has encountered a recurring problem when it takes priority guest stars and new characters over the existing cast. Unfortunately, The Simpsons season 33 has been plagued by this issue.
All but one of The Simpsons season 33’s eleven episodes have featured at least one celebrity guest star. The lone celebrity-free Simpsons episode still includes Joe Mantegna, albeit as series regular Fat Tony, and nine of the eleven episodes feature more than one guest star. Three episodes have four or more guest stars, with even the Simpsons season 33 episode, which reintroduced Glenn Close as Homer’s mother Mona, including a cameo from Rachel Bloom. This is far too many new one-off characters and far too many famous people playing themselves, which means that the show famous for its large cast of supporting actors never gets to use them because The Simpsons is just too busy jumping from one guest to the next.
Few shows have the cultural clout of The Simpsons, a show that reshaped the landscape of television comedy during its Golden Age in the 1990s. Unfortunately, almost no famous face will decline the series, resulting in fan-disliked Simpsons episodes like Elon Musk and Lady Gaga’s appearances. Even when The Simpsons has guest stars who aren’t playing themselves, the problem of the show ignoring its established characters is never fully addressed.
For instance, The Simpsons’ “The Longest Marge” (season 33, episode 11) brought in a new character, Grayson Mathers, performed by comedian Beck Bennett. The episode also featured an appearance by John Mulaney as reprising character Warburton Parker, but rather than fleshing out the comedic character Mulaney played in an earlier appearance, The Simpsons crammed in a cameo from Adam Schefter as himself. An episode centered on Bennett’s character, as well as a cameo from Schefter or the comeback of Mulaney’s Parker, could have been hilarious. However, The Simpsons season 33 made (and continues to make) the mistake of cramming all three into one episode, which meant that none of the celebrity guests or new characters had a chance to make an impression. It’s a dilemma that The Simpsons has faced previously, and one that’s difficult to justify in a show with hundreds of supporting characters.