The TV series has been running for almost 30 years, and standout plotlines have been hitting too close to home as they start to happen in real life.

While 2020 is turning out to be quite a memorable year- especially due to the coronavirus outbreak- TV enthusiasts have noticed that a clip from The Simpsons 1993 episode “Marge in Chains” features a virus called Osaka Flu spreading through the town when residents ordered juicers from Japan. The episode shows juicers being packed into boxes and one of the workers says, “Please don’t tell the supervisor I have the flu.” He then coughs into the box, sending the virus to the U.S. The juicers arrive in Springfield, and most of the residents fall ill. A panicked crowd appears outside Dr. Hibbert’s office, demanding a cure, and the only thing Dr. Hibbert recommends is bed rest because “anything I give you would only be a placebo.” Unaware of what a placebo is, the crazed masses tip over a truck searching for one, inadvertently cracking open a crate labeled “DANGER: KILLER BEES.”

Sounds a bit familiar? Is The Simpsons predicting the future again, specifically the year 2020? 

Nancy Cartwright, who voices Bart Simpson believes that this is more of a longevity phenomenon, while Yardley Smith, who voices Lisa Simpson, states: “If you’ve been on for three decades, probably you’re going to hit it once in a while.”

Bill Oakley, who wrote for the series, has told The Hollywood Reporter that he’s not a believer in the conspiracy theories around the show. “I don’t like it being used for nefarious purposes,” Oakley said. “The idea that anyone misappropriates it to make coronavirus seem like an Asian plot is terrible. In terms of trying to place blame on Asia — I think that is gross. I believe the most antecedent to (Osaka Flu) was the Hong Kong flu of 1968. It was just supposed to be a quick joke about how the flu got here.”

It was meant to be absurd that someone could cough into box and the virus would survive for six to eight weeks in the box,” he continued. “It is cartoonish. We intentionally made it cartoonish because we wanted it to be silly and not scary, and not carry any of these bad associations along with it, which is why the virus itself was acting like a cartoon character and behaving in extremely unrealistic ways.”

There are very few cases where The Simpsons predicted something,” Oakley added. “It’s mainly just coincidence because the episodes are so old that history repeats itself. Most of these episodes are based on things that happened in the 60s, 70s or 80s that we knew about.”


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