Did ‘The Simpsons’ Predict Dating Apps?

The idea that "The Simpsons" regularly predict future events is a common meme but is often misleading.

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Image via Screenshot, @simspsons_DG Twitter page

Claim

"The Simpsons" predicted the rise of dating apps.

Rating

Origin

On Sept. 6, 2021, the viral website Unilad published a variation on a theme of a meme that claims the long-running animated television comedy series “The Simpsons” predicted future events.

“The Simpsons Kind Of Predicted Dating Apps,” the headline read. The text of the story links to a clip in which the character Jonathan “John” I.Q. Nerdelbaum Frink, Jr., A.B., B.Sc., PhD M.R.S.C., C.Chem, M.Phil, M.A., often referred to as “Professor Frink,” talks about computers of the future:

When the character Apu asks if future computers could be used for dating, Frink responded they could, but that the matches would be “so perfect as to eliminate the thrill of romantic conquest,” a comment that seemed eerily prescient. With the advent of datings apps like Tinder, some people report that they find the process “depressing.”

As we have previously reported, “The Simpsons” is a popular show that has been on the air since 1989. From a story Snopes reported in 2019, “That’s more than 200 hours of content. If you watched ‘The Simpsons’ non-stop 24 hours a day, it would take you more than a week to finish the entire series. That’s a lot of content, a lot of jokes, and a lot of opportunities for coincidences to appear.”

In other words, claims that “The Simpsons” predicted some current event are sometimes based on items in the show that are written vaguely enough that they can fit whatever is percolating in the public consciousness. Other times, the content of “The Simpsons” episodes are purposely misrepresented in memes to give the false impression that the show predicted current events.

According to Frinkiac.com, a search engine dedicated to “The Simpsons,” the clip about computers of the future comes from the Season 7 episode titled, “Much Apu About Nothing,” which aired in 1996. The scene is part of a flashback showing Apu’s college years. In 1996, dating websites were already in existence. For example, Match.com, which is still a popular dating site, was launched in 1995.

So “The Simpsons” writers were probably riffing on something that had already happened, versus predicting future events. We therefore rate this claim “False.”


Sources:

“Are ‘swipe Left’ Dating Apps Bad for Our Mental Health?” BBC News, 6 Sept. 2018. www.bbc.com, https://www.bbc.com/news/business-45419105.

Kauflin, Jeff. “How Match.Com’s Founder Revolutionized the Dating World — and Walked Away with Just $50,000.” Business Insider, 14 July 2015, https://www.businessinsider.com/how-matchcom-was-founded-by-gary-kremen-2015-7.

Frew, Cameron. “The Simpsons Kind Of Predicted Dating Apps.” Unilad.com, 6 September 2021, https://www.unilad.co.uk/film-and-tv/the-simpsons-kind-of-predicted-dating-apps/. Accessed 13 Sept. 2021.