Why The Simpsons Halloween Specials Are Called “Treehouse of Horrors”

Why The Simpsons Halloween Specials Are Called “Treehouse of Horrors”

The Simpsons will soon air their thirty-first Treehouse of Horror special, but why are the show’s Halloween outings known by this moniker?



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Why The Simpsons Halloween Specials Are Called “Treehouse of Horrors”

The Simpsons will soon air their thirty-first Treehouse of Horror special, but why are the Halloween outings known by this moniker? After thirty long years on the air, The Simpsons has left a lot of questions unanswered. The once-great animated sitcom is a pop culture institution and while The Simpsons has fallen out of favor with critics and audiences alike in recent decades, its Halloween specials remain an annual TV staple.

Often used as an opportunity to parody classics horror films (or the likes of James Bond and Dr. Seuss in the more scattershot, less well-loved recent outings), the Treehouse of Horror specials are some of The Simpsons’ most anarchically funny and deservedly acclaimed episodes. The non-canon Halloween outings have gone to some strange places, with the show even killing off the Simpson family themselves countless times in these specials, but they’ve never addressed where they got the name “Treehouse of Horror”.

The Simpsons’ Halloween specials share this name with the show’s long-running tie-in comics, whose annual Halloween issues are also called “Treehouse of Horror” specials. The name comes from a since-abandoned tradition which was set up by the very first Treehouse of Horror when it first aired way back in 1990. The first special simply titled “Treehouse of Horror” featured a framing device wherein the Simpsons kids attempted to outdo one another’s scary stories. In this original Treehouse of Horror, the title is literal, as Bart, Lisa, and Maggie (sort of) are narrating the tales from inside Bart’s eponymous treehouse.

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Said treehouse has remained a staple of the series and was glimpsed as recently as Treehouse of Horror XXX’s Stranger Things parody. But the show soon replaced this framing device, with the second special seeing the stories framed as each family member’s nightmares, the third turning them into Halloween party stories, and the fourth framing them as a Night Gallery style anthology show hosted by Bart. Eventually, the series ended up getting rid of these framing devices altogether, and the show has long since abandoned them to provide more room for each segment. Debate rages amongst the fandom as to whether losing the framing device was the right move.

To fit in scenes of the kids setting up each story, the runtime of the original Treehouse of Horror’s segments is far briefer, and such a lot tighter, than the segments of later specials. This means each short story builds up to a self-contained punchline, whether it’s an understandably offended Kang and Kodos being hurt by the accusation that they plan on eating the family in the first of The Simpsons’ many Twilight Zone parodies, a haunted house blowing itself up at the prospect of living with the Simpsons, or the final segment’s unforgettable (and genuinely unsettling) recitation of Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Raven’. In comparison, many critics claim that later Treehouse of Horror episodes are overstuffed and underwritten, lacking the speed and efficiency of The Simpsons’ earlier seasons. However, it’s impossible to tell how much of this dip in quality is due to losing the treehouse-set framing device of early installments and how much is a result of The Simpsons gradually fading out of cultural relevance, dissembling the peerless writing team behind classics like the Scorsese spoof ‘Cape Feare’, and losing its once-sharp satirical edge.

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Link Source : https://screenrant.com/simpsons-halloween-treehouse-of-horror-name-explained/



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