After much controversy surrounding the Apu Nahasapeemapetilon character on popular Fox animated series, The Simpsons, the show’s creators have reportedly decided to completely remove the character from the series.
Apu, an Indian immigrant who runs the town’s Kwik-E-Mart, made his first appearance on the long-running series in Episode 8, and has been a reoccurring Springfield resident ever since. In 2017, the portrayal of Apu’s character came under heavy criticism after Indian American comedian Hari Kondabolu created a documentary called The Problem with Apu, which highlighted the racial impact of the character.
Kondabolu explored a number of negative South Asian stereotypes that some people of South Asian decent found to be racist and made them uncomfortable. He also pointed out that Apu was written to have a thick accent, but is actually voiced by a white man. As Kondabolu’s documentary gained traction, so did the controversy surrounded The Simpsons’ beloved Apu. Apu’s future was also called into question, as many wondered what direction the show’s creators would take to address the onslaught of critisim.
The show eventually tried to address the matter in an episode called “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” but that did very little in the way of course-correcting. Instead, it seems the show’s creators will be quietly dismissing the issue, according to reports from IndieWire.
“I got some disheartening news back, that I’ve verified from multiple sources now: They’re going to drop the Apu character altogether,” producer Adi Shankar said. “They aren’t going to make a big deal out of it, or anything like that, but they’ll drop him altogether just to avoid the controversy.”
It’s worth noting that Shankar isn’t a part of the show’s team, but claims this information comes from “two people who work for The Simpsons and a third source who works directly with creator Matt Groening.”
While talking to USA Today, Groening expressed his displeasure with the criticism of Apu.
“I’m proud of what we do on the show,” Groening said. “And I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended.” His comment went on to spark even more criticism.
It was previously reported by the Inquisitr that Groening had no plans on retiring the character, but it seems things may have changed.
Meanwhile, Hari Kondabolu has made multiple appearances in an attempt to better explain his stance. While appearing on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Noah said it could be argued that The Simpsons does a good job of “offending everyone equally” with stereotypes, to which Kondabolu responded.
“There are a lot of different white characters and we just have the ‘convenience store guy’ voiced by a white guy with brown paint.”
In “The Problem with Apu,” I used Apu & The Simpsons as an entry point into a larger conversation about the representation of marginalized groups & why this is important. The Simpsons response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress.
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) April 9, 2018
For Kondabolu, it’s a matter of bringing attention to the issue of misrepresation of South Asian characters in media.
It’s not yet known how exactly Apu’s exit will be handled, but fans will likely find out in an upcoming episode.