Bill Oakley, former producer and writer for The Simpsons, is admitting to something we knew all along. The long-running animated series predicted practically everything that has happened in 2020.
In the 1993 episode titled "Marge in Chains," which Oakley is credited as a co-writer, an outbreak of the flu occurs in Springfield after a sick factory worker in Osaka, Japan coughs inside the box of a juicer before being shipped off to the fictitious town. Local newscaster Kent Brockman later reported that over 300 Springfield residents had been infected with a virus referred to as the "Osaka flu."
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in March, Oakley rejected the notion that The Simpsons predicted the coronavirus pandemic, claiming that the "Osaka flu" was meant to be a "quick joke" referencing the Hong Kong flu of 1968.
"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. It is cartoonish," he said. "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."
It's also worth noting that the "Marge in Chains" episode first aired the same year as the Four Corners hantavirus outbreak. Named after the Four Corners region in the U.S., which connects Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico, this disease caused flu-like symptoms and shortness of breath, similar to COVID-19.
Oakley argued that in many cases, The Simpsons isn't predicting anything, but rather, it's a case of history repeating itself. "There are very few cases where The Simpsons predicted something," he continued. "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."
However, Oakley seems to have begrudgingly changed his tune after seeing that the show also predicted the stateside arrival of murder hornets. In the episode, an angry mob of people stand outside Dr. Hibbert’s medical clinic demanding a vaccine, but he informs them that he can only provide placebos. Out of desperation, the frantic group tips over a nearby truck, thinking that the placebos are inside the vehicle. Instead, a box filled with killer bees breaks open, causing the people to disperse in fear and panic. See the clip in the above tweet.
It was reported last week that a species of hornets, known as "murder hornets," have made their way to the United States for the first time ever. The New York Times reports that, in Japan, the murder hornets kill up to 50 people every year.
In the same vein as history repeating itself, Oakley wholeheartedly agrees that nobody will learn anything from this latest moment in history.