5 min read
Debt is a controversial topic and frequently considered taboo. As such, it’s not something widely spoken of or discussed. However, some television shows have attempted to tackle the issue – with varying degrees of success. One of those programs is the Simpsons.
Perhaps one of this country’s most beloved cartoons, it has had more than 630 episodes and premiered back in 1987. As a result, it’s hard to find a matter which the show hasn’t covered. When it came to discussing debt though, it made three mistakes:
One common cliché in television programs is when a character uses a credit card for frivolous spending. Eventually, the matter is resolved when bailiffs arrive to repossess all the purchased goods. The show then ends with that character learning credit cards aren’t to be used irresponsibly.
We see this in the episode ‘The Canine Mutiny’. Here, Bart fraudulently applies for a credit card and gets accepted. He then embarks on a reckless shopping spree. Soon, his creditors start making demands for repayment – which he ignores. Eventually, his goods are repossessed with no long-term consequences.
However, in reality, the situation would have been more serious. Let’s ignore that Bart committed credit card fraud because this is a different case altogether. If the credit card was gained legally, Bart’s credit rating would have probably have been ruined by the end of the episode. Next, his lenders might have also pursued legal action against them to reclaim interest and charges. Ultimately, given how Bart isn’t employed, this would have possibly resulted in bankruptcy.
Certain professions carry misconceptions or enduring stereotypes. For example, politicians are often associated with having a flexible approach to the truth. In a similar fashion, debt collectors are generally treated unfairly – frequently depicted as having loose morals and threatening debtors to reclaim money.
One of the characters in the Simpsons who embodies this attitude is ‘Mr Burns’. For example, in the episode ‘Homer vs Dignity’, Mr Burns hires Homer to pull pranks on the people of Springfield. Knowing how much he needs money, Mr Burns pushes Homer to do these tasks without any thought to his physical or mental health.
Similarly, debt collectors can’t harass or threaten you to reclaim funds. Furthermore, they can’t call outside sociable hours or speak to other people about your debt without permission.
This cliché is one we still see in television shows and often takes place in businesses such as restaurants. Here, a character finds they don’t have the funds available to pay what they owe. The manager then puts them to work in the kitchen, usually cleaning plates.
A similar situation occurred in the episode ‘MyPods and Boomsticks’. Here, Lisa overspends on her ‘MyPod’ downloads and finds she is unable to pay her bill. To resolve the situation, she is put to work as a living advertising billboard.
It’s a common cliché but one which – in the real world – would be illegal. This is for the same reason that indentured slavery is illegal. A business cannot put you to work without consent and must compensate you for your actions. If you cannot pay a bill with a company though, the firm would resolve this debt through several potential solutions – one of those could include legal action.
It’s worth noting the Simpsons isn’t the only show which got debt wrong – far from it. In fact, there are so many misconceptions about debt it’s not surprising when the issue is reported incorrectly.
Still, if you want a conversation with someone who understands debt you should get in touch with one of advisors today.
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