Analyzing The Simpsons – Season 2

The Simpson’s second season ran for 22 episodes between October 1990 and May 1991 (with a final episode being aired in July of that year) and features classic episodes such as “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish” featuring Blinky, the three-eyed fish; “The Way We Was” which told of how Marge and Homer met; and the first Treehouse of Horror episode. By the end of this season, the template of the Simpsons series will have been set. The Second season would also show the series at it’s ratings peak. So now with that quick intro out of the way let’s look at the second season with the same metrics we looked at the first (click HERE to see the Season One breakdown)

Just as last time, I’d like to look at the interconnection of characters from this season. As I did with Season 1, I decided that each character needed to have at least 5% of the character mentions in an episode and they had to meet that threshold for at least 2 episodes. I then compared characters who met that threshold and appeared in the same episode. In the following NetworkX diagram, the size of the circle represents the total number of episodes that the character appeared in (with that 5% mention threshold). Meanwhile, the “stronger” the line is between two characters represents a larger number of episodes that the two characters appeared in.

Interactivity between Major Characters in Season 2

The four primary Simpsons characters (all indicated with aqua circles) are the most prominent and have the strongest “ties” to each other. The curious thing I see with this is that while there are strong ties between Bart and Homer with all the others; Marge and Lisa share only a moderate bond. This indicates that while Lisa and Marge interact heavily with Homer and Bart, they aren’t featured in the same episodes starring the other.
As for the secondary characters, Burns has ties with Homer, Marge (she was hired to paint a picture of him in “Brush with Greatness”) and his loyal flunky Smithers. I was also a bit surprised to see that Martin was more frequently portrayed than Milhouse, Nelson or any of the other kids at school.

I’d also like to briefly discuss the representation of women and minorities in the series. While Season 1 has an average of just over 25% of female representation per episode, in Season 2 it went down ever so slightly to 24.83%; however the median (middle) value went up from 19.52% to 25.48%; so I guess you could say, it’s a wash. One important difference however, is that in Season 2, no episode was over 50% female (although Episode #19 “Lisa’s Substitute” came close with 49.63%. Unfortunately, the reviews of Episode #17 (“Old Money”) don’t include any mentions of the reoccuring female characters (although Bea Simmons, who dies leaving Grampa everything does play a role, albeit by dying).

Appearances by Females per Episode

As for the portrayal of minorities, the average representation per Season 2 Episode was only .76%; which I guess is an improvement from Season 1’s .29%; although the median score for each series was 0. Altogether, the storylines of 17 out of the 22 episodes in the season didn’t warrant a mention of a minority character; while the highpoint was 5.81%; which occured in Episode 10’s “Bart Gets Hit by a Car”, which featured Dr. Hibbert and Dr. Nick Riviera.

Appearances by Minorities per Episode

For those of you who read the writeup on Season 1, you’ll know about the color-coding of the following grid, but for the rest of you, here it goes. The chart below shows character mentions, as based upon a percentage of the total character mentions for that episode. The chart is also color coded from purple (less than 1% of a mention in an episode), blue (between 1% and 5%), green (5% to 10%), gold (10% to 20%), orange (20% to 30%) and red (more than 30%). The actual percentage (rounded down to the nearest number) is placed in the block for that episode with the total percentage (rounded down to the nearest number again) in the total columns. It’s this rounding down, that is responsible for the episode-based numbers not equaling the total number (so Martin was in 7.62% of Episode 2 and 2.38% of Episode 10 – which totals 10%). If a character has a total of 10 points or more, they appear in this chart:

Season 2 Appearance Grid

As opposed to Season 1, where Bart narrowly edged out his father; Season 2 has Homer with a overwhelming lead over his son, with 610 mention points versus Bart’s 293. We then get Marge with 254 and Lisa with 183. What surprises me the most is that Mr. Burns was only 14 poins behind Lisa with 169 poins. Nobody else has over 100, but Grampa comes closest with 91 and then there’s a big dropoff to Flander’s 51; followed by Smithers with 40, Martin with 34 and then a tie between Milhouse and Herb, Homer’s half-brother, each with 29 to close out the Top Ten.

Season 2 Ranking

For the overall ranking for Season 2, as opposed to Season One’s near tie behind Bart and Homer (with Bart edging out his father), Season Two went overwhelmingly to Homer 550.00 to 418.25 (even though Bart “won” the Titular episodes category). Homer wound up dominated the “Most Prominent Characters” and “25% Episode” Categories (limiting Bart and the rest of the pack to a maximum of 44.44% and 36.36%).
Marge and Lisa are once again in 3rd and 4th place, with both making gains over the previous year. The only other character to pass the 100 point threshold was Mister Burns, who racked up 153.39 points (over a 100 point gain from Season One). Grampa, Flanders and Smithers made the top 10 this year. Skinner dropped from 8th (46.82 points) to 9th (43.52 points) this season; while Maggie dropped from 5th place (116.13) to 10th (41.87). Krusty, Moe and Milhouse didn’t make the Top 10 this year.

Overall Ranking at the End of Season 2

Finally, now that I’ve processed two seasons, I’m going to rank the characters across seasons the same way that I do within one (using the same 6 categories). When looking at Seasons 1 and 2, Homer winds up being the most important character with 566.67 out of a possible 600 points. In second is Bart with 284.37, followed by Marge with 267.15 and Lisa with 241.42. Mr. Burns is the first non-Simpson to appear, with 114.50 points; which actually beats Maggie and Grampa Simpson. Finally, Principal Skinner, Krusty the Klown and Moe round up the Top Ten.

Written by Dave Curewitz

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