We here at The A.V. Club continue to bask in the afterglow of our unexpected cameo in last night’s episode of The Simpsons. But how did it come about? How did a reference to our humble publication end up in this most venerable, beloved and influential of pop-culture institutions? For an answer, we emailed Matt Selman, the episode's writer, who was kind enough to give us the following explanation for our appearance:
“I love it when The Simpsons references specific real world things that people are passionate about. It's what drew me to the show when I was just a fan, and I love putting those specific references in now that I have some power over these things. To include The Onion and The A.V. Club is an honor.
I was writing an episode about Marge feeling awkward and uncool around the new mom next door. I remembered a friend of mine's father had recently thought an Onion article was real, then feeling lame afterwards when he found out the truth. I thought this was perfect for Marge, who probably wouldn't know what the Onion is, and this misunderstanding would be a great awkward and embarrassing moment for her.
When we were rewriting the script in the room, the fantastic Matt Warburton then pitched the double-embarrassment that Marge, after not knowing The Onion was fake, trying to roll with it, and playing along that The A.V. Club was also made up. To me, it was a super character moment that came from a real situation. That we could reference the beloved institutions of The Onion and The A.V. Club made it even more fun.
The hard part, that we didn't think about, was that in order to show The Onion we would have to write Onion-quality jokes for Marge to think are real. This was intimidating. I hope the ones we put in are ok. We weren't making fun of The Onion, we were just trying to do what they do. Much tougher. I wanted to put in one headline about a "Local Man" but forgot.
One more thing. I am a huge fan of The A.V. Club. I read it often, and think its tone and depth really speaks to me. Sometimes I look forward more to The A.V. Club because it makes me feel smart, as opposed to The Onion, which is so funny it makes me feel stupid.”
[Paul Harvey voice] And now you know the rest of the story!