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The Simpsons’ Al Jean Reveals Why “The Force Awakens From Its Nap” Exists

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The Simpsons staff produced two spinoff shorts centered around Maggie, the smallest Simpson, titled The Longest Daycare and Playdate With Destiny respectively. There was a gap of eight years between the first and second shorts, and now suddenly we have a third, the Star Wars-themed “The Force Awakens From Its Nap.” The short made its debut today on Disney+….seemingly out of nowhere. It was announced and there it was.

Both Daycare and Playdate were intended for theatrical release, and both technically made it there, though Playdate was attached to Pixar’s Onward, whose stay in theaters lasted all of two weeks before the shutdown. Most people aren’t even aware there was a Pixar movie that opened with a Simpsons short…instead, Playdate was shuttled to Disney+ the following month (along with Onward). According to showrunner Al Jean, this got the staff thinking about producing more.

Executive producer James L. Brooks informed Jean that The Simpsons library was one of the most consistently well-performing shows on Disney+, and it might be a good idea to start producing original content specifically for the streaming channel. Jean agreed, and got to thinking…”if we’re on Disney+ with all those other properties, we should do shorts that riff on some of them.”

Both Disney and Lucasfilm approved “The Force Awakens From Its Nap,” but then threw the team a curveball: the short had to be ready for Star Wars Day, May the 4th. Jean pitched the short last January, which meant the whole thing had to be turned around in just three months. The average Simpsons episode takes NINE months to complete.

“We’ve been working on that [short] with us and David and the animation ever since. We finally finished the mix on Friday last week. So I would say about three months is about as fast as you can do these things,” Jean told Variety. It’s the briefest Maggie short at just three minutes in length (one minute per month apparently).

“The Force Awakens From Its Nap” is streamable now on Disney+ and from the sounds of it, there could be more shorts on the way. “I won’t say what [the next one] is but it’s also very exciting in different ways,” Jean hinted. “The only goal is to sort of walk across the Disney Plus tiles from Star Wars to Nat Geo and plant our seed everywhere.”