I’m not (necessarily) proud of it, but I spent most of my weekend with The Simpsons. At best, I’m a casual fan, but on a rainy Saturday, FXX’s 24-hour, 552-episode Simpsons marathon proved to be a pretty seductive mix of cozy nostalgia, surprisingly timeless writing, and non-judgmental hangover company.
Then, things got weird. After six or so uninterrupted hours in Springfield, it became apparent that the allegedly fictional town is based on none other than Philadelphia.
Officially speaking, series creator Matt Groening claims that Springfield is inspired by a number of generic small towns, and the ambiguity of where, exactly, it could exist is a long-running joke on the show (trust me — I haven’t got off my couch in days). Briefly, the honor went to Springfield, Vermont, when Fox held a contest promoting The Simpsons Movie.
However, Philadelphians will recognize the mix of casual corruption, enthusiastic alcoholism, rabid fandom, and blood-sucking, soul-crushing monopolies as, well, home sweet home.
Personally, I’m OK with this — I can get down with a place where my jeans stay in style for 25 years. My issue is that Springfield has, over the years, figured out how to do Philadelphia better than Philadelphia.
Here’s what we could learn, or at least stand to remember, from our four-fingered friends.