After 26 seasons, The Simpsons can do little to shock its viewers, but the showrunners did create some waves online when they released spoilers for season 27.
News hit that Homer and Marge, would split, with Homer having an affair with a character played by Girls star and creator Lena Dunham. The spoilers appeared in Variety and also revealed that the murderous Sideshow Bob would get to kill Bart Simpson in the annual Halloween special.
But fans quickly took to social media to express their outrage.
One fan, @revengevirgin on Twitter, said “so in the next series of the Simpsons; Marge and Homer get a divorce and Bart is murdered along w my childhood.”
Another Twitter user, @courtthecat, gave this shocking confession: “I’m more upset by Homer and Marge Simpson’s divorce than the divorce of my own parents.”
There could be good reason for fans to react to the news. Nearly half of all marriages in the United States are thought to end in divorce, with lack of commitment being the most common reason to split and a major reason for 73% of couples.
But showrunner Al Jean claims he never said anything about Marge and Homer hiring a divorce lawyer, just that they would “legally separate,” as he told Variety.
On his own Twitter account, Jean answered fans by saying, “What I said is correct/was completely misinterpreted as you will see 9/27.”
Even the official Simpsons Twitter page has displayed an image of Bart Simpson writing “Homer and Marge are not breaking up” on a chalkboard.
This isn’t the first time that Homer and Marge have had their marriage shaken up by the writers. The couple legally divorced back in season eight and questioned their commitment to one another in the Simpsons movie from 2007.
Where divorce used to be a controversial topic on TV, today it has been featured in a number of story lines, from the plots of Friends to Modern Family.
Time Magazine writer Daniel D’Addario suspects that the reconciliation between Homer and Marge will at least be “novel,” since that part of separation and divorce is so rarely focused on in TV dramas and sitcoms.
Jean says that fans will have to wait until September 27 to find out what happens between Homer and Marge.