Family finance with 'The Simpsons'

The Simpsons celebrate their 20th anniversary.

This week, we've been talking about money problems and family, a sensitive subject to be sure, so maybe we need a bit of humor to lighten things up. To do that, where better to look than the most famous family on television?

For nearly 25 years you could say "The Simpsons" has been America's leading personal finance sitcom. It's got it all -- bad investing, borrowing from family members, terrible budgeting, mortgage mishaps.

"Simpsons" writer and producer Michael Price offers some insights into how the show deals with money problems.

"Money is always a huge problem, with families especially," Price says. "It's great fodder for us because Homer always wants to go off and do the grand thing, and Marge is the one pulling him back and saying, 'No, no, we've got to be careful.'"

Real-life problems like a clash over spending habits give the cartoon an element of truth that's so funny.

So how might Lisa and Bart approach their parents about something like their retirement?

"Well I imagine Lisa will have done all her research ... I'm sure she's an active listener of this program," says Price. "So whereas she would have a reasoned argument, Bart would probably say something that would just get Homer upset, and while Homer is strangling him, he would find a way to pick his pocket."

About the author

In more than 20 years in public radio, Barbara Bogaev has served as the longtime guest host of NPR’s flagship program Fresh Air with Terry Gross, as well as host of APM’s news and culture magazine, Weekend America and the weekly national documentary series, Soundprint.

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