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Matt Groening May Have Created The Simpsons, But Twelve Unsung Heroes Made It A Hit


During the early days of “The Simpsons,” Matt Groening was the sole artist getting all the credit, and it was Groening who was being invited onto the radio and TV to talk about the series. In truth, as “Springfield Confidential” explains, Groening’s collaborator Sam Simon was pivotal in developing the series. Simon served as showrunner on “The Simpsons” for its first few years, designed multiple characters (he’s behind Mr. Burns), and wrote several episodes. Yet his name was never mentioned in “Simpsons” reporting early on. The story goes that Simon resented that he never got credit and began to treat Groening poorly behind the scenes as a result. Simon left the show in 1993 but continued to get an executive producer credit. He passed in 2015, and “The Simpsons” still bears his name. “If Matt is Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb,” Reiss points out, “Sam is George Westinghouse, building the factory to crank the bulbs out.”

“Springfield Confidential” also notes that Simon was only one of the behind-the-scenes masterminds of “The Simpsons,” and that trying to nail down the “singular genius” responsible for the show’s existence is impossible. After Groening and Simon, Reiss calls attention to writer George Meyer, who served as a vital gag writer for the show. Meyer was eventually profiled in the New Yorker and wrote 12 “Simpsons” episodes in addition to co-penning “The Simpsons Movie.” He left the show in 2005.

Reiss also credits Brooks, the man who gave Groening his platform and still serves as an executive producer on “The Simpsons” to this day. According to Reiss, Brooks was the one who made the “Simpsons” characters into real people with dramatic concerns, freeing them from being mere “slob” archetypes.

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