I grew up watching the Simpsons. Yes, I know this isn't a novel revelation, basically everybody in my generation is capable of communicating with each other entirely through a series of Simpsons quotes, but stick with me for a second here. As a kid, I thought Ned Flanders was the worst. His cheerful attitude sickened me. I was watching for the insanity of Homer, the smartass antics of Bart, the nihilism of Moe and the worldview of Comic Book Guy. Flanders' goody two-shoes act wore thin with me almost immediately.
But as I sat in my house over quarantine I ran out of shows to watch, as we all did, so I rewatched a ton of early Simpsons episodes. The one thing that really struck me during the rewatch was how much I ended up not only liking Flanders as a comic foil to Homer, but I found myself rooting for him.
No, I didn't become progressively wholesome over the years, but as an adult I started to understand Flanders' intentions. I no longer laughed at his earnestness, I respected it. Flanders is a man who consistently has things go astray, particularly when dealing with that family next door, and it never rattles him. He maintains his faith and good cheer, always pressing forward to the next challenge with positivity.
Do you understand how incredibly difficult that must be? If the last year has taught me anything, it's that I'm very often on the brink of completely burning out. Facing each day with a smile is unfathomably taxing, but Ned Flanders pulls it off. The man has gone through so much adversity—the Leftorium, losing Maude to a flaming tire, having Homer Simpson as a neighbor—and despite it all he stands there with a smile, greeting all his neighborinos and wishing them an okily dokily day.
As a grown-ass man I can admit it—I admire Ned Flanders. I also admire the creative minds behind all of these fan-diddly-tastic tattoos. Enjoy!