The Simpsons' second season originally aired on the Fox network between October 11, 1990 and May 9, 1991, and contained 22 episodes, beginning with "Bart Gets an "F"". Another episode, "Blood Feud", aired during the summer after the official season finale. The executive producers for the second production season were Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, and Sam Simon, who had also been EPs for the previous season. The DVD box set was released on August 6, 2002 in Region 1, July 8, 2002 in Region 2 and in September, 2002 in Region 4. The episode "Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment" won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour), and was also nominated in the "Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy Series or a Special" category.
"Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish" was the first episode produced for the season, but "Bart Gets an "F"" aired first because Bart was popular at the time and the producers had wanted to premiere with a Bart themed episode. The second season featured a new opening sequence, which was shortened by fifteen seconds from its original length of roughly 1 minute, 30 seconds. The opening sequence for the first season showed Bart stealing a "Bus Stop" sign; whilst the new sequence featured him skateboarding past several characters who had been introduced during the previous season. Starting with this season, there were three versions of the opening: a full roughly 1 minute 15 second long version, a 45-second version and a 25-second version. This gave the show's editors more leeway.
The season saw the introduction of several new recurring characters, including Mayor Quimby, Kang and Kodos, Maude Flanders, Bill and Marty, Dr. Hibbert, Roger Meyers, Jr., Sideshow Mel, Lionel Hutz, Dr. Nick Riviera, Blue Haired Lawyer, Rainier Wolfcastle, Troy McClure, Groundskeeper Willie, Hans Moleman, Professor Frink and Comic Book Guy.
Due to the show's success, over the summer of 1990, the Fox network decided to switch The Simpsons timeslots in hopes that it would result in higher ratings for Beverly Hills, 90210 and Babes which would follow the show. It would move from 8:00 PM on Sunday night to the same time on Thursday where it would compete with The Cosby Show on NBC, the number one show at the time. Many of the producers, including James L. Brooks, were against the move because The Simpsons had been in the top 10 while airing on Sunday and they felt the move would destroy its ratings. All through the summer of 1990, several news outlets published stories about the supposed "Bill vs. Bart" rivalry. At the time, NBC had 208 television stations, while Fox only had 133.
"Bart Gets an "F"" was the first episode to air against The Cosby Show and averaged an 18.4 Nielsen rating and 29% of the audience. In the weeks ratings, it finished tied for eighth behind The Cosby Show which had an 18.5 rating. However, an estimated 33.6 million viewers watched the episode, making it the number one show in terms of actual viewers that week. At the time, it was the most watched episode in the history of Fox. The next week, "Simpson and Delilah" had a 16.2 rating and 25% share while the Cosby Show managed to maintain its 18.5 rating. However, viewer-wise, The Simpsons won again with 29.9 million viewers.
The next week, "Treehouse of Horror" fell in the ratings, finishing 24th. Ratings wise, new episodes of The Cosby Show beat The Simpsons every time during the second season and The Simpsons eventually fell out of the top 10.
"Three Men and a Comic Book" would boast the only victory over The Cosby Show, finishing 23rd in the weekly ratings while a rerun of Cosby finished 26th. At the end of the season, Cosby averaged as the fifth highest rated show on television while The Simpsons was 38th. It would not be until the third season episode "Homer at the Bat" that The Simpsons would beat The Cosby Show in the ratings. The show remained in its Thursday timeslot until the sixth season.
On aggregate review website Metacritic, a site which uses a weighted mean score, the season scored a 91/100 based on seven critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
The DVD boxset for season two was released by 20th Century Fox in the United States and Canada on August 6, 2002, eleven years after it had completed broadcast on television. As well as every episode from the season, the DVD release features bonus material including commentaries for every episode.