The Simpsons were one of the longest-running animations in the USA before it finished in 2021, after its 31st season. In its time, it was a cultural phenomenon with its finger on the pulse of the latest trends. It also became famous for its future predictions, most notably depicting Donald Trump as president. It parodied hundreds of movies which added to its popularity, seen in some of the best episodes. One of the most popular episodes in its early days is ‘$pringfield”, in which a casino opens up in Springfield.
Originally aired in 1993, the episode takes place in an era when the gambling landscape was much different from today. Although the products offered were similar such as slots, bingo, or table games, the abundance of online options we have today didn't exist. The online gambling industry is continuing to grow, with casinos now offering players a much wider range of products. Whether you want the chance to play jackpot king slots, a live game of blackjack, or prefer categories like Instant Win and Mystery Cash, the options are endless. As online gambling was not easily accessible in the 90s, this episode takes on a much different look. The casino was one of the very limited options to gamble, and townspeople flocked to it after it had been built to jump-start the town’s failing economy.
Homer Simpson was given a job as a blackjack dealer, while his wife Marge becomes a regular at the casino too. The scenes in the casino are littered with appearances and gags from the 80s and early 90s movies. Dustin Hoffman's character from "Rain Man" is featured as is Robert Goulet, a former singer. Former Irish-American professional boxer, Gerry Cooney also appears and is knocked out by Otto, the show's bus driver. A deleted scene, later featured in another episode, shows Homer dealing cards to James Bond.
Outside of the casino scenes, there are further moments copied from popular culture and movies from years gone by. Casino owner, Mr. Burns, becomes obsessive about germs and becomes a recluse parodying a well-known casino owner of the time, Howard Hughes. Hughes was a maverick and a pioneer in the airline industry. He was very well known in America, and was later depicted by Leonardo Di Caprio in the 2004 movie “The Aviator”. The episode also includes an appearance from centurion, Henry Kissinger. In a scene where Homer finds his glasses in a toilet, he incorrectly recites Pythagorean Theorem, only to be corrected by a colleague.
Although many fans of the show grew tired of it as it moved into its second and third decades, episodes like this make it live long in the memory. Aired as part of the fifth season, the jokes are timeless. The passage of time can be seen in celebrities and movies referenced, and the different reactions with which the casino was greeted by the town. With the availability of online gambling, it might not be quite the same nowadays.
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