>I find the first season to be the best in terms of substance.
I definitely appreciate how grounded in reality it feels in comparison to a lot of the later stuff. The same goes for Beavis and Butt-head as a show compared to how outlandish the plot of the movie was. It completely lost that slice-of-life feeling of two idiot teenagers trying to stave off boredom that made me love it so much.
That's not to say either of those were bad, but I don't think I like the more outlandish style as much.
>It's not out of nostalgia, it's unanimously held that in the 8th-10th seasons it went to shit.
I've seen some people say that "Behind the Laughter" should have been the last episode.
From what I remember of watching those later seasons back in high school, I found them funny enough but far more cartoonish in nature. Some of it felt like they were trying too hard to ride the coattails of shows like Family Guy and South Park though, as opposed to the balance between realism and cartoon humor that "Golden Age" Simpsons had.
But even in the classic Simpsons seasons cracks would occasionally show. "Deep Space Homer" is a fondly remembered episode from way back in season five, but the basic premise feels a lot like a forerunner of the over-the-top zaniness the Simpsons would later get up to. "Lisa the Vegetarian" was season seven, and that featured one of the poorly integrated celebrity appearances the show would later become known for. To get Paul and Linda McCartney on board, the show had to agree to keep Lisa as a vegetarian from then on. They should have just stopped sucking up to the McCartneys and told them to take a hike,