Some Things Never Change

Warning: The following post contains spoilers from the recent Simpsons episode “Steal This Episode.”

Nothing lasts forever. Well, nothing but The Simpsons and the hockey careers of Teemu Selanne and Jaromir Jagr, it seems.

This Sunday, The Simpsons proved yet again that they are still funny and still relevant after 25 seasons with their latest episode, “Steal This Episode.” Homer is tired of getting movies spoiled for him at the water cooler at work by Lenny and Carl, and he’s even more frustrated at all the ads before a movie in the theaters, so Bart teaches him how to illegally download movies from the Internet. When asked how he knows how to do that, Bart simply replies “I’m under 30,” which is funny because Bart has been a ten year old for 25 years now. If he aged like a real person, and not like a cartoon, he’d be old enough to run for president.

The Simpsons had already been on TV for a few years when Selanne and Jagr broke into the NHL in the early 90s. Since then, they have taken the league by storm and turned into two of the greatest goal scorers the game of hockey has ever seen. In fact, they are the two highest scoring European-born players in NHL history.

Teemu Selanne was selected 10th overall in the 1988 NHL Draft by the Winnipeg Jets, and made his NHL debut in 1992, the same year he played in his first Olympics for Finland. The Finnish Flash played two stints with the Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks, the second of which started in 2005, continues to this day, and includes winning the franchise’s only Stanley Cup Championship in 2007.

Jagr was drafted 5th overall in the NHL Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990 and made his NHL debut that same year. He won the Stanley Cup in 1991 and 1992, but left Pittsburgh after a decade to take his talents to the Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Avangard Omsk (KHL), Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, and now the New Jersey Devils. For over twenty years, he has been the aloof rock star hockey has needed, and deserved. In 1998, the NHL allowed its players to compete in the Olympics for the first time, and Jagr has been representing his native Czech Republic ever since, including winning a Gold Medal at the Nagano Olympic Games in 1998.

The 2014 Sochi Games will be Teemu’s sixth Olympics and Jagr’s fifth. These two have accomplished everything a hockey player dreams of, but they’re not done having fun just yet.

With the 2014 Winter Olympics coming up, there are a lot of Olympic mainstays that will not be present. Chris Drury, Jamie Langenbrunner, and Brian Rafalski are no longer skating for the Team USA. Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger will not be there to secure Team Canada’s blue line, and Jarome Iginla and Joe Thronton will not be there to set up Crosby anymore. Nicklas Lidstrom will not be lacing up for Team Sweden.

In the winter of 2010, Lost was still airing new episodes on ABC in the midst of its final season, Breaking Bad was starting to become the most talked about show on cable, and The Office and 30 Rock were anchoring NBC’s Thursday night lineup. Four years later, all of those shows have ended, and Jay Leno is giving The Tonight Show (presumably) for real this time, to Jimmy Fallon, while he was taking it back from Conan O’Brien right around the time of the Vancouver Olympics. Four years later, The Simpsons are still going strong. It doesn’t seem that long ago that Homer and Marge were headed to Vancouver to represent the United States in couples curling. Bob Costas guest starred in that episode. It was very funny. I hope the show lasts forever.

One of the highlights of the episode was when Judd Apatow, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, and Seth Rogen all guest starred as themselves starring in a pirated movie “based on Judd Apatow’s life, starring his family, and ad libbed by his friends” as Homer put it. He also showed, in his backyard pirate theater, the latest installment of the “Cosmic Wars” franchise, which created a loophole in which episodes one through three never actually happened, as many Star Wars fans probably hope will happen for them. 

Homer ended up getting busted by an FBI agent voiced by sitcom veteran Will Arnett (On a side note, it feels weird referring to a man as young as Mr. Arnett as a “sitcom veteran” the way you would for Ted Danson, Julia Louis-Dreyfus,  or Ed O’Neill, but after Arrested Development, Sit Down, Shut Up, Running Wilde, Up All Night, and now The Millers, as well as memorable guest appearance on 30 Rock, The Office, Parks and Recreation, and The Simpsons, the shoe totally fits.), who actually played an FBI agent on a couple episodes of The Sopranos. The feds got tipped off when Marge tried to pay Hollywood back for the movies Homer stole. After that, the Simpson family needed to seek asylum from the Swedish government like Edward Snowden, and they recreated an iconic scene from The Fugitive. There was so much to love, and it reminded me why we need The Simpsons so much. The world is changing, but we can now take comfort in that fact that an edgy new show once condemned by Barbara Bush is now as accepted and beloved an American institution as the game of baseball.

These things have to end eventually, right? Teemu Selanne claims to be done at the end of this year, but we’ll have to check back in four years. Jagr claims he’ll play hockey until his legs fall off, and I want to believe him.

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