Why the Simpsons never did their Lost Scientology parody episode

The simpsons faced plenty of controversy over their decades on the air, but why did the longtime animated comedy veto a seemingly hilarious episode that allegedly usurped the Church of Scientology? Beginning with the crudely animated Christmas special “Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire” in 1989, the anarchic animated sitcom The simpsons has never been afraid to usurp everything American viewers hold dear, and the show’s range of targets has rarely been limited by fear of criticism or retaliation from the institutions they parody.

Although many critics and fans alike claim that the once potent satirical sting of The simpsons has long been blunted as the series reached its 33rd season, the show was a force to be reckoned with in what many critics call its climax, the so-called “golden age” of seasons 1- 12. During this period, The simpsons was relevant enough to be criticized by name in a speech by then-President George HW Bush, and the show was bold enough to criticize the president in response to the cold opening of their next episode (Bush would be more late parodied by an entire episode of The simpsons usurping the President, while out of the White House at the time the release aired later).

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As such, it will come as no surprise to many fans to learn that during this aforementioned golden age The simpsons nearly aired an episode that openly criticized L Ron Hubbard’s controversial new religious / cult / business movement, The Church of Scientology. Entitled “Lisa The Scientopteran”, veteran Simpsons writer Bill Oakley called this episode non-produced “a hilarious and fully elaborated story by George Meyer. From what little is known, the episode would have followed Lisa’s conversion when she became a “Scientoptera,” which for legal reasons was certainly not a blow to Scientology. , but was clearly aimed at making fun of the growing institution. however, The simpsons cut the idea (like many others) and never produced this pitch in one episode. The reasons for this are more varied than mere fear of legal retaliation from the notoriously contentious Church of Scientology, with the show’s cast and the cultural background of the time also coming into play.

The Story of the Missing Scientology Episode

Not much is known about the proposed plot of “Lisa The Scientopteran,” beyond Oakley’s comments assuring fans that the idea was fully fleshed out as an episode, unlike some opposites. Simpsons locations. In some cases, such as the proposed Prince cameo which The simpsons was unable to secure it, a launched episode is a crude preview that is not developed until the most important guest star is booked. Sometimes, rejected episode launches will be rearranged into different releases, such as when a planned Planet Hollywood parody cameo is stuffed. Simpsons The episode that would have invited Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis was rewritten when the actors couldn’t clear their schedules and became the season 5 episode “$ pringfield (Or, how I learned to stop worrying and loving legalized gambling) “.

What is known about the plot of “Lisa The Scientopteran” is that, like the later Scientology parodies seen in The boys and BoJack Rider, the episode would have seen a major actor convert to a similar faith, much to the dismay of their co-stars. Lisa is said to have switched to the parody religion of Scientology after being disillusioned with the family’s Christian faith, an angle that would have allowed the intrepid of the time Simpsons to usurp organized religions in general, American cultural Christianity, and the Church of Scientology in particular, all at once. As shown below, some of these Simpsons elements of the story made them into later episodes, but Scientology’s usurpation was never revisited, though abandoning a fully fleshed-out plot was no easy feat at a time when every episode of The simpsons regularly went through dozens of rewrites.

Why the episode was never produced

Nancy Cartwright Bart Simpson

This Simpsons the script may have been dropped to avoid offending Bart Simpson voice actor Nancy Cartwright, who is a prominent Scientology advocate alongside Invisible Man star Elizabeth Moss, John Travolta and Impossible mission star of the series Tom Cruise. According to Oakley, the writer said the episode was never done to avoid legal ramifications. Interestingly, Oakley even avoided mentioning the details of “Lisa The Scientopteran,” saying, “I can’t reveal the topic here, but we never moved forward due to 1, legal ramifications, and 2, the fact that at least two people on the team / cast felt personally attacked by episode and we just didn’t want to deal with the fallout.

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It is understandable that The simpsons writers would balk at the risk of offending staff Scientology practitioners, as happened when South Park later, Scientology usurped. South Park co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone ended up losing actor Isaac Hayes over their decision to satirize Scientology, so clearly there were good reasons for The simpsonswriting room for worrying about offending Cartwright. Like when, as a result of South Parkthe controversy of episode 200, The simpsons replied with a “South Park – We would be by your side if we weren’t so scaredTable gag, the most family-friendly animated comedy has often stayed in safer territory than its R-rated competitor.

Why the Simpsons couldn’t usurp Scientology

Simpsons - The Joy of the Sect

With the likes of The boys, Bojack Horseman, and South Park usurping the institution of Scientology, it can be difficult for modern viewers to understand why the creators of The simpsons were so worried about litigation. However, the Church of Scientology has only come under public fire in recent years thanks to like Leah Remini’s documentary Leah Remini: Scientology and Its Consequences, the HBO documentary Go clear, Louis Theroux’s perspective on the institution, My Scientology film, and Paul Thomas Anderson The master. The simpsons would have usurped the institution much earlier than these traditional attempts to challenge the Church of Scientology, and since the show has a much larger audience and cultural influence than the more counter-cultural shows that have since satirized the Church, The simpsons would have been more likely to face inevitable legal retaliation.

How “Lisa The Scientopteran” Always Influenced The Simpsons

In the years since the episode was vetoed, the story of the family caught up in a cult was revisited in “The Joy of the Sect” (season 9, episode 13) and Lisa converting to another religion when ‘she was disillusioned with Christianity was revisited in’ She of Little Faith ‘(season 13, episode 6), one of many The simpsons Christmas promotions. While the final episode presents still sharp critiques of the for-profit megachegy phenomenon, the former is a more pointed parody of cults, and writers have acknowledged that Scientology has influenced their portrayal of Movementists. Perhaps to avoid litigation, the team was quick to add that Jim Jones and the People’s Temple were also inspirations for this classic. the Simpsons out, making sure the show attributes its inspiration for the plot to incidents that are undisputed examples of dangerous worship, rather than just the Church of Scientology.

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