‘The Simpsons’ Will Revisit Apu Controversy to Find ‘Right’ Answer
Days after The Simpsons tried to address criticisms of Apu, showrunners have acknowledged their mistake. Writer Al Jean promises the long-running animated comedy will find a better way to address the character’s controversial history, and hopefully stay “popular.”
It was this past Sunday that saw “No Good Read Goes Unpunished” using a politically incorrect children’s book to dismiss concerns about Apu’s South Asian stereotypes, as outlined by comedian Hari Kondabolu in 2017 documentary The Problem With Apu. The series has since come under fire for using Lisa and Marge’s fourth-wall breaking moment to absolve themselves of responsibility for Hank Azaria’s characterization, and subsequently doubt changes would be made. Producer Jean initially spent Sunday retweeting praise of the scene, but now hints The Simpsons will revisit the issue:
Shortly after the episode aired, Kondabolu wrote over Twitter “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.” FOX itself deferred to the episode over any criticism, claiming producers wanted the scene to “speak for itself.”
Jean’s choice of the word “popular” notwithstanding, it isn’t outside the question that The Simpsons might address Apu’s characterization more thoughtfully, without needing to retire the character altogether. If nothing else, the series could at least make better use of Lisa, whose dismissal of political correctness felt wildly out of line with the character.
TruTV will actually re-run The Problem With Apu this Sunday, and we’ll stay tuned in the meantime.
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