The Simpsons respond to criticism over the 'racist' depiction of Apu but fans are not happy
Indian-American standup comic Hari Kondabolu brought out the problem with the character, forcing the makers of The Simpsons to address the portrayal.
For a long time, there have been several controversies revolving around the character of Apu in The Simpsons and the show finally decided to address it. A recent documentary, by Indian-American standup comic Hari Kondabolu brought out the problem with the character as he pointed out how the persona of the character was inducing stereotypical views about south Asians on American television.
Sunday (April 8) night’s episode, No Good Read Goes Unpunished was the first time that the showrunners decided to address the criticism that the character usually got. However, the response wasn't what they had expected it to be. In the scene, it can be seen that Marge Simpson wants to read Lisa a book she loved when she was a girl, but realizes it is filled with racist stereotypes.
It is then that she decides to edit the stories and introduces “cisgender girl named Clara” who fights for “horse rescue and net neutrality”. Even though Marge had good thoughts behind changing the story, Lisa did not seem to believe that it was right. She complained that by making the story “inoffensive” and "perfect" Marge had stopped Clara from setting on her emotional journey.
“Well, what am I supposed to do?” Marge can be seen asking in the episode. It is then that Lisa turns to face the viewer and says: “It’s hard to say. Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” She then hints it to a photograph of Apu by her bed, inscribed with Bart Simpson’s catchphrase – “Don’t have a cow”.
“Some things will be dealt with at a later date,” Marge promises. To this Lisa adds, "If at all." Before the show had aired The Simpsons executive producer, Al Jean had prompted that the show is going to send the internet into a frenzy as he tweeted, "Twitter explosion in act three” and he was right. As soon as the episode aired, people were quick to respond. Unfortunately, it wasn't taken well by many.
Hari himself was the first one to respond and stated that the showrunners failed to see the point he was trying to make. "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," he tweeted.
The others seemed to agree with Hari as one wrote, "The fact that The Simpsons had Lisa (!) be the one to slap down the legitimate conversation around Apu is maybe the grossest part of this." While another could not believe that Lisa's character was the one who happened to deliver those lines. "That's really terrible. They have completely betrayed Lisa's beautifully defined character. We all know she would not have made such a comment," wrote another user.
However, there were a few who thought that this criticism against the character and the showrunners were absurd because the entire show is a satirical piece. "The outrage over Apu from the Simpsons astounds me. He’s a stereotype, who on that show isn’t? The show is a satirical reflection on suburban American living. Either you’re against the show stereotyping literally everybody or your not. You can’t hang your hat only on Apu," one fan debated.