Illustration of Work-Family Concepts from ‘The Simpsons’

Activity Description:

Authors: Sara C. Hare & Robert C. Lennartz, Indiana University Southeast


Using a television show to illustrate family and work concepts.

The Simpsons, the animated situation comedy, is now in its 29th season. Students have literally grown up with the critically-acclaimed show and understand its biting commentaries on American society, current events and family issues. The Simpson family includes the nuclear family of Homer and Marge, bad-boy Bart, socially-conscious Lisa, and baby Maggie, along with a cast of regular characters from the community of Springfield.

Scanlan and Feinberg (2000) introduced the idea of using the television show to teach sociological concepts. While they recommend using the entire 22-minute episode, specific concepts can be introduced or illustrated with a shorter 3-5 minute clip. Seasons 1-7 are now available for purchase or rental so more examples of illustrated concepts from those seasons have been included in the table below. However, episodes are rerun nightly in most viewing areas so that particular episodes can be taped easily. Students may also be a resource for copies of particular episodes.

The linked table includes episodes that illustrate family and work concepts. The table is organized in chronological order because the episodes are bundled by season when they are purchased or rented. The official identifier for the episode (code number) and the episode title (in quotes) are also included.

Activity Source:

Sweet, Stephen, Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Joshua Mumm, Judith Casey, and Christina Matz. 2006. Teaching Work and Family: Strategies, Activities, and Syllabi. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.

Activity Links to Materials:

simpsons table