The Simpsons stayed right in character with its 25th anniversary salute to its network, Fox, on Sunday night, using the occasion to take a shot at Fox’s sister network Fox News Channel. The show pokes fun at all sorts of pop cultural figures — not least of all itself — as part of its creative DNA, and has never been shy about biting the hand that not only feeds it but co-owns the landmark show (along with Gracie Films). As a lead-in to the network’s anniversary special Sunday, Fox aired the pilots of Married…With Children and The Simpsons (it passed the 500-episode mark this season). The latter, titled “Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire,” had a card congratulating Fox on its silver anniversary, but making clear those good wishes don’t necessarily extend to the news channel. (As Deadline‘s Nellie Andreeva noted today, the card is factually correct, since Fox News isn’t yet 25 years old — it launched Oct. 7, 1996).
This is hardly the first time The Simpsons has made jokes at the expense of Fox News. On November 21, 2010, for example, a news helicopter shown in the “Fool Monty” episode bore the Fox News logo, with the tag line: “Not Racist, But No. 1 With Racists.” In October, Fox renewed The Simpsons for two seasons beyond this current 23rd, extending its lead as the longest-running scripted TV show ever in primetime.