“The Simpsons” finally addressed the controversy surrounding Apu Nahasapeemapetilon in the wake of comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary “The Problem With Apu”, which examines how one of the show’s most popular characters is also perpetuating racist stereotypes.
At issue is Apu’s voice, which has been performed by Hank Azaria for decades, which has led to criticism of a white man performing a wildly over-the-top impression of an Indian accent.
On the April 7 episode, discussion of a new edition of The Princess in the Garden that had to be altered to make it inoffensive in 2018 led Lisa to remark, “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”
This was quickly followed by a shot of a signed photo of Apu, who had written, “Don’t have a cow, man.”
Added Marge, “Some things will be dealt with at a later date,” with Lisa responding, “If at all.”
While the show’s writers clearly thought that would provide some semblance of closure to the issue, the opposite occurred when viewers took to Twitter to slam the show’s approach, reigniting the controversy.
As a result, exec producer Al Jean engaged with fans on Twitter, and he’s promising to try and come up with a solution that won’t anger fans.
“I truly appreciate all responses pro and con,” wrote Jean on Twitter on Friday. “Will continue to try and find and answer that is popular & more important right.”
Jean’s tweet follows days of Twitter discussion with fans, with Jean explaining the various approaches that he and the show’s writers have taken to “make Apu nuanced, sympathetic and (more than our other characters) admirable for 30 years.”
Jean also retweeted a fan’s assessment of one way the show should have handled it.
In the meantime, “The Simpsons” has a big milestone coming up when it airs its 636th episode on Sunday, April 29th, when the show will break the record that’s been held by “Gunsmoke” for more than 40 years to become the longest-running scripted primetime series on television.