Mike Reiss pulls back the curtain in his new book, cheekily titled Springfield Confidential. Cheeky, because as a behind-the-scenes peek at a long-running Hollywood production, this is no kiss-and-tell tome. Even at its most dishy, it is closer to a sketch-and-kvetch. Yet don’t let that dissuade you, because Springfield Confidential—a title that nods, of course, to the Simpsons’ unmappable home town—offers a wealth of great anecdotes, all peppered with punchlines that make Reiss’s memoir as hilarious as whichever season of The Simpsons you recall most fondly.
In this always entertaining and frequently laugh-out-loud-hilarious memoir, Reiss and coauthor Klickstein take us behind the scenes not only of the long-running sitcom, but also of Reiss’ own life ... There have been a lot of books written about The Simpsons, some of them good but most not so much, and this is hands down one of the very best.
It’s the first book of its kind by a true Simpsons lifer and offers an informative, frequently hilarious, and occasionally frustrating glimpse into the long career of the world’s most famous four-fingered family ... Reiss’ book is stuffed with jokes, many of which are really funny: About two-thirds of the way through, there’s one at the expense of Moe, my favorite Simpsons character, that made me laugh out loud in public. But it never feels like Reiss fully settles on what sort of book he’s trying to write, a behind-the-scenes tour of an iconic show or a personal memoir of a life in comedy writing, with the latter often feeling a bit half-assed ... Springfield Confidential works best as fan service, and I don’t mean that as a dig. Reiss knows his audience, and it’s unlikely that many people will read this book who aren’t already Simpsons obsessives ... Reiss does briefly address the ongoing controversy over the voicing of Apu and does so defensively and poorly ... Mike Reiss wrote the goddamn Simpsons. It can be up to the rest of us to write the great books that the show deserves.
The book reads like a slightly more focused commentary track as Reiss answers fans’ burning questions; explains the show’s process; offers insights on characters, jokes, and controversies; and digs into his life as a comedy writer ... Each chapter comprises short, easily digestible chunks that may or may not have much to do with what comes before or after them ... For hardcore Simpsons nerds, little in Springfield Confidential will qualify as new information, and some of it is super basic for the Comic Book Guys among the show’s fan base ...The hook is that Reiss filters it through his experiences and opinions, and he has an endless supply of both ... Reiss’ candor frequently skews as dismissive or glib, which can be funny ... and other times shortsighted (see the section on Apu). The whole book reads as quickly written and a little undercooked. Springfield Confidential is fitfully informative, but too self-satisfied and meandering to do justice to The Simpsons.
Always honest, playful, and engaging, the book will provide fans with deep insight into the show’s history but also into its daily production and future. Superfans might even be tempted to go back to the first episode and experience the show all over again. A charming look at a cherished American show.