Simpsons writer wows hometown crowd

Tim Long praises SHDHS

Story and photos by Casey Lessard

It’s a long road from Exeter, Ontario to Los Angeles, California, but Tim Long found his way back. When he arrived, an entire school of fans awaited.
“If you keep trying and following your dream,” said Taryn Dougall of Exeter, “you can be successful like Tim.”
Tim Long’s success comes from his long association with the Simpsons, the animated series that has fans around the world. That fan base extends to South Huron District High School, where he graduated 20 years ago.
“It’s exciting to see him come back and talk to all the kids,” says dad Earl Long, whose work at Huron Tractor brought the family to the area; he and his wife Dorothy now live in London.
“We never thought we’d have a son who would end up writing for a television show that is as widely known. I would mention to people that he writes for the Simpsons and they wouldn’t believe me, so I keep a card of his in my wallet to prove that I’m not being dishonest.”
The Longs were celebrities by proxy at South Huron November 21 when their son visited the school with his wife Miranda. Celebrating their one-year anniversary weeks before, it was Miranda’s first time in Exeter. Commenting on the school and its services, she told the Strip it was impressive compared to her high school in New York City. Her husband agrees.
“South Huron is a really, really good school,” Tim said. “In my work I’ve ended up working with a lot of people who went to fancy schools in the States. They all have one thing in common. They’re not that bright. You really are getting a first-rate education and you’re getting it for free. A kid from Exeter can do anything, even me.”
Long also noted that growing up in the area influenced his writing, including an overnight stay at Exeter Public School during a blizzard that inspired the Skinner’s Sense of Snow episode. When asked who watches the Simpsons, students showed their support. They roared and cheered while watching Long’s favourite Simpsons moments, including Homer’s failed canyon jump, the land of chocolate, Homer in space, the gay steel mill, and Bart’s White Stripes tribute.
While criticized by some for its edgy content, Long defended the Simpsons for having a moral code stronger than many other shows on television.
“Simpsons is really pro-family,” he said. “The family stays together, they look after each other, Marge and Homer stay faithful to each other, and interestingly they’re also the only (characters) on TV that regularly attend church.”
Watching television may be fun for his teen fans, but Long insists they should look forward to the real fun – being an adult.
“People will tell you that your teenage years are the best years of your life. Those people are crazy. It gets better,” he said, giving words of encouragement for his South Huron fans.
“If nothing else, I prove that an overweight Grade 9er with no friends can go on to become a Hollywood big shot. Maybe you can, too.”