In the course of reading up to ground myself in Springfield’s esteemed academic circles, I came across a work called Atomistic Politics and the Nuclear Family. The article presents a case – though it has a few holes – that The Simpsons actually presents a strong image of family. The family values are couched in contrast to an uncaring, absent, or overly therapeutic state and institutions. (This argument about the role of the state is based on one episode, in which the Simpsons kids are removed by child services and placed with the Flanders family).
Despite its flaws, I found some interesting ideas in the article, beginning with a reinterpretation of Homer (Cantor 1999, p738):
Many people have criticised The Simpsons for its portrayal of the father as dumb, uneducated, weak in character, and morally unprincipled. Homer is all of those things, but at least he is there.
He continually fails at being a good father, but he never gives up trying, and in some basic and important sense that makes him a good father.