The Simpsons Season 34 Proves The Show Has Given Up On Several Characters

Warning: Spoilers for The Simpsons season 34, episode 16.Since The Simpsons season 34 has spent many episodes exploring the surprising internal lives of random supporting stars, it was disappointing to see that the series has given up on fleshing out some of its characters. With over 700 episodes and a penchant for introducing one-off joke characters, The Simpsons has inevitably ended up with one of the biggest casts in television history. There are thousands of named characters in The Simpsons, ranging from the main stars of the titular family to obscure, long-forgotten background characters. In season 34, The Simpsons has taken advantage of this sprawling cast.


Not only did The Simpsons season 34 give Carl a (second) backstory, but the series also delved deep into the origin stories of other oft-ignored figures. This allows the creators of The Simpsons to pull the show’s focus away from the central family and also makes the world of the series feel more vivid, detailed, and lived-in. However, The Simpsons season 34, episode 16, “Hostile Kirk Place” proves that The Simpsons has simply given up on some characters. While this isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, the decision to still center an entire outing around a one-note character does result in a weak watch.

Related: The Simpsons Season 34 Just Hinted At Bart’s Best Future Yet

Kirk Van Houten’s The Simpsons Season 34 Story Doesn’t Work

Kirk's demo tape in The Simpsons

Kirk Van Houten is a one-joke character. Whether he is recording mortifying love songs in a failed attempt to save his marriage or losing a hand to absurd misfortune in a throwaway gag, Kirk is only known for his endless failures. While The Simpsons season 34 mocked Homer’s age plot hole in “Hostile Kirk Place,” the show failed to add any nuance or new direction to Kirk’s story in the outing. One-note figures like Kirk can’t hold up an episode since they have no opportunity for growth and no character arc, which left “Hostile Kirk Place” with nowhere to go.

When Kirk began to complain that his family history was misrepresented in the Springfield Elementary history curriculum, this plot seemed like it would result in a journey of self-discovery for the eternal sad sack. When Carl insisted that his Icelandic ancestors weren’t the monsters that history portrayed in The Simpsons season 24, episode 21, “The Saga of Carl,” this resulted in a twisty story that eventually upended Carl’s worldview. However, while The Simpsons season 34 snuck its best celebrity roast into Carl’s second backstory, the show didn’t provide Kirk’s plot with an equally engaging resolution or surprising twist.

Why This Simpsons Season 34 Plot Was Disappointing

Bart raises a finger as Milhouse dressed as Kirk and Lisa look at him in The Simpsons.

From Duffman to Carl to two unrelated episodes about Nelson, The Simpsons season 34 has been all about fleshing out unlikely supporting stars and giving them unexpected depth. This made the predictable Kirk-centric storyline a wasted opportunity, as Milhouse’s father arguably plays a bigger role in The Simpsons than most of these characters. While season 34 didn’t need to give Kirk Van Houten a deep backstory, The Simpsons did need to do something new with the characters once he became the central focus of “Hostile Kirk Place.” However, The Simpsons season 34 failed to find any interesting new approach to the character, resulting in a flat, disappointing outing.

More: How The Simpsons’ Season 34 Bart Focus Returns To Show’s Original Goal

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