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Relax everyone, Marge and Homer Simpson have already been divorced

Homer Simpson is to separate from Marge and fall in love with a pharmacist voiced by Lena Dunham

A few days ago, buried in a Q&A with "The Simpsons" executive producer Al Jean, Variety dropped this devastating spoiler: Homer and Marge Simpson will legally separate in the upcoming season.

And there's more: Homer will fall in love with his pharmacist, who will – naturally – be voiced by actress Lena Dunham.

“We wanted to take a serious look at what it would really be like to be Mrs. Homer Simpson. … For those who are sick of marriage crisis episodes, it goes in a completely different direction than any before,” Jean told Entertainment Weekly in January.

It took some time for the Internet's collective gasp to reach full tilt, but it's here now: "Homer and Marge are splitting up on 'The Simpsons' because love is dead," bemoaned Mashable, and “D’Oh! Marge and Homer Simpson will call it quits. (Thanks, Lena Dunham.)” the Washington Post says. The Guardian cried, sarcastically, that the revelation is “nothing short of a full-blown tragedy.”

Lost amid the tizzy over the split of TV’s favorite golden couple is the fact that the Simpsons have been divorced before – for 12 whole seasons -- according to various summaries of "Simpsons" episodes.

In Season 8’s “A Milhouse Divided,” Homer secretly divorces Marge because he believes she deserves better but then quickly remarries her at the end of the episode in a proper ceremony in front of all her friends.

Twelve seasons later, it’s revealed in “Wedding for Disaster” that at the time of their second wedding, the Rev. Lovejoy’s license to officiate weddings had expired. So, unbeknown to them, the couple had apparently been divorced that whole time. It was an error they rectified, of course, by the end of the episode.

Marge and Homer’s more minor marital problems are not novel, either. Some examples: Marge’s flirtations with bowling instructor Jacques and Homer’s temptations by country western singer Lurleen Lumpkin and power plant worker Mindy, with whom he shared a kiss.

At this point, we don’t even know how long the split will last. Most of the past dalliances have been resolved within a single episode, with Marge and Homer back together again in their endless, ageless love. So much drama, but then again, "The Simpsons" is America's longest-running scripted prime-time TV series, longest-running sitcom and longest-running animated series.

After Dunham's guest starring role was announced, Jean said, “we wanted to do something that wasn’t like the other ones.”

We'll have to wait until the first episode of the new season in September to see what will really happen. One tweeter, Jenny, had this to say: "Homer and Marge are splitting up. I don't know what's real anymore."

For more breaking news, follow me @cmaiduc

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