I've probably purchased every DVD compilation of the show. I've likely watched every single episode in syndication, and most, several times. I can't help but laugh in advance of the best parts of a show, because I know they're coming. I have a bad habit of telling people, "This is a good episode", or shushing them in advance of a much-anticipated one-liner.
In college, I made sure my classes wouldn't go too late, so that my roommate and I would be in front of our TV to see back to back episodes on local cable in the early evening. At times, in fact, my roommate and I could hold entire conversations, just by utilizing Simpsons quotes. This was also the year he and I discovered the newsgroup alt.tv.simpsons, where fans around the world, starting East and moving West, would voice their jubilation and/or displeasure about the show they had just seen, with many gleefluly announcing, "Worst Episode Ever!"
In fact, that year, it seemed like The Simpsons and Fox were on to us, when Comic Book Guy declared:
"Last night's 'Itchy & Scratchy' was, without a doubt, the worst episode ever. Rest assured that I was on the Internet within minutes, registering my disgust throughout the world."
-- Reference SNPP.com
But my Simpsons fandom was gradual. When the show debuted on Fox, my family lived so far into the boonies, we didn't even get Fox. I had friends at school that would rave about the show, and we didn't have access. Instead, we only got media warnings about how The Simpsons were emblematic of a declining society. But once, when in Sacramento at my maternal grandmother's home, we stayed late and caught our first Simpsons, Life on the Fast Lane, in 1990. I was 13, and hooked.
But the Simpsons didn't make it easy for me to keep watching. The show announced it would go head to head with The Cosby Show, a ratings behemoth, on Thursday nights. My family, with one TV, continued in its conservative ways, supporting the Huxtables. Later, once the Cosby Show had been trumped, The Simpsons moved to Sunday, and again, my family's conservative background decided such fare wasn't appropriate for the Sabbath.
That left ample time for me to catch up. Many seasons worth of shows on syndication were new to me. On a great week, we would catch anywhere from 5 to 8 new episodes, sometimes at the rate of two a day. That meant a serious injection of Itchy and Scratchy, Homer, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, Marge, and dozens of minor characters that would occasionally steal the show, including Cletus the slack-jawed yokel, Willy the school janitor, Comic Book Guy, Ned Flanders, and Ralph Wiggum.
And now... today is a big day. It's huge, in fact. After more than a decade of anticipation, The Simpsons family is hitting the big screen in a full feature-length film. If you thought the level of anticipation around Harry Potter was high, you haven't seen anything like Simpsons fans, who are no doubt going to regale you with tales of their fandom and drop quotes like they are going out of style, now with new lines from the movie.
Will I be in line for the show's premiere? Sadly, no. We're going to be less extreme, but we already have tickets to see the show tomorrow, with friends from high school and college and my wife. The six of us will be converging from our different geographies, each with differing Simpsons knowledge, and take in a little bit of Springfield. And if it's good, maybe I'll be dropping in to the theater a few more times.
If you're not quite the Simpsons afficionado, start here for the definitive resource of all things yellow: SNPP.com