The Simpsons showrunner says he will try to find the "right" answer to Apu controversy
Simpson’s showrunner Al Jean acknowledged the outrage from fans of 'The Simpsons; that followed last Sunday episode to the controversy over Apu
The Simpsons showrunner and a Harvard graduate, Al Jean, said he’ll continue “to try to find an answer that is popular & more important right” after a couple days of engaging with Twitter followers on regarding the recent controversy over the show’s longstanding Apu character and the episode that made a brief reference to it.
The pros and cons referred to last Sunday’s episode that addressed the controversy about what some people observed as the stereotypes embodied by Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the Indian-American owner of Springfield’s Kwik-E-Mart convenience store. The controversy began with comedian Hari Kondabolu’s 2017 documentary 'The Problem with Apu' - a critique of the character.
The episode titled “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” included a scene in which Marge Simpson reads a book to daughter Lisa and Lisa commented noting that the “cisgender girl” heroine is “already evolved” and “doesn’t really have an emotional journey to complete.”
When Marge asked, “Well, what am I supposed to do?” Lisa responded, “It’s hard to say. Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” At that point, Lisa looked at a framed photograph of the Hank Azaria-voiced Apu inscribed, “Don’t have a cow,” the old Bart Simpson catchphrase was given a new and literal meaning coming from Apu.
“Some things will be dealt with at a later date,” Marge told Lisa, who responded, “If at all.” Kondabolu tweeted, among other observations about the scene, “Wow. ‘Politically Incorrect?' That’s the takeaway from my movie & the discussion it sparked? Man I really loved this show. This is sad.”
Since then, Jean has been discussing the situation with his Twitter followers. Jean tweeted, “For those who’d ask why Lisa would defend Apu: he’s her friend. He taught her to be vegan. She admires him.”
A commenter asked why hiring another actor besides Azaria (presumably meaning an Indian actor) is “such an issue?,” Jean said, “It’s not. We tried bringing in Utkarsh Ambudkar as Apu’s nephew. It was deemed unsatisfactory — there’s no solution I fear that will satisfy.”
That answer certainly did not satisfy everyone, as a commenter quickly asked, “You took one swing and that’s the end?”, to which Jean responded, “We’ve been trying to make Apu nuanced, sympathetic and (more than our other characters) admirable for 30 years.”
The fuss raged on and Jean shared pro-Apu articles that made a Twitter user comment; "99% of the press you got was bad. But you shared the one that agreed with you. That’s like fox news showing one black guy waving a confederate flag. You shared an article from the national review…obviously they are the forefront of racial equality and representation. Resign”.
Jean was quick to respond addressing the Kondabolu documentary; “The Problem With Apu got a 4.6 on imdb. Does that mean it’s worthless? No I think there were valid points made.”
Another person pointed out that apology is all that is needed to put the controversy at rest. Jean did not respond to that but when another commenter cited to hire more people of color in the writer's room, Jean responded 'Agree".