Movies - TV
A Simpsons Writer Still Defends This Infamous Episode
By DEVIN MEENAN
Over the 700+ episodes of “The Simpsons,” you’d be hard-pressed to find one as infamous as Season 9’s “The Principal and the Pauper.” The episode reveals Principal Skinner (Harry Shearer) is an imposter who assumed his commanding officer’s identity after the Vietnam War.
Springfield’s residents drive the real Skinner (Martin Sheen) out, the fake one resumes his role, and things return to normal — in a moment that many have cited as the beginning of the series’ end. However, “The Simpsons: The Complete Ninth Season” DVD boxset’s commentary reveals that the episode writer, Ken Keeler, still defends it and says it was “the best episode of television, I feel, I ever wrote.”
Keeler admits that he wanted to annoy the fans and revealed the theme for the episode “is about a community of people who like things just the way they are.” He added, “When the episode aired, lo and behold, a community of people who like things just the way they are got mad. It never seems to have occurred to anyone that this episode is about the people who hate it.”
The writers found that fans weren’t on the same page, since they cared about the continuity between episodes, and “The Principal and the Pauper” spit in the face of established lore. Keeler would move to “Futurama” and write an episode with a similar meta-commentary, ending with the message, “At the end of the episode, everything's always right back to normal.”