Cartoonist Mimi Pond wrote the very first episode of The Simpsons to air, but despite this groundbreaking achievement, she claims sexism kept her from securing a full time spot on the writing staff.
“[Show creator Matt Groening] was asking his cartoonist friends if they wanted to write episodes, and apparently I was the only one who said yes,” Pond told Jezebel, of her initial job. “When I wrote an episode, I wrote it and it just happened to air as the first one because they were behind schedule.”
The episode in question is ‘Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire’, in which Homer doesn’t get a Christmas bonus, and after spending their present money getting Bart’s newly-inked tattoo removed, works as a Santa, tries his luck at the race-track, and ends up adopting Santa’s Little Helper.
Good episode. Yet Pond wasn’t asked to join the staff, a decision she blamed on Sam Simon’s divorce, and his reluctance to have women around.
“I was never invited to be on staff, and I never knew why for the longest time”, she explains. “No one ever called me or explained to me or apologised or anything. And it wasn’t until years later that I found out that Sam Simon, who was the showrunner, didn’t want any women around because he was going through a divorce.
“It had remained a boys’ club for a good long time. I feel like I was just as qualified as anyone else who came along and got hired on the show, and it was just because I was a woman that I was, you know, not allowed entry into that club.
“I always wind up being the turd in the punchbowl because the show is so beloved and everything, and I’m sorry to burst bubbles but [laughs]. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for me.”
The first episode of The Simpsons to air, and the only one which Mimi Pond wrote.