'The Simpsons': Springfield could be seeing the back of Apu
The character Apu became controversial in the recent past, when a lot of critics began arguing Apu is the amalgamation of several stereotypes from the Indian subcontinent
You read that right. Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is running the risk of being dropped from the highly popular TV show, 'The Simpsons.' After years and years of debate and criticism of how racist the entire character actually is, it looks like the show's producers may finally have paid heed and addressed claims of the character being written off the show.
It all started last week when producer and Youtuber Adi Shankar shared 'The Simpsons' planned to "drop the Apu character altogether". Soon after, executive producer Al Jean responded on Twitter saying Shankar "does not speak for our show". The character Apu became controversial in the recent past when a lot of critics began arguing Apu is the amalgamation of several stereotypes from across the Indian subcontinent.
Adi Shankar is not a producer on the Simpsons. I wish him the very best but he does not speak for our show.— Al Jean (@AlJean) October 28, 2018
Following that, Shankar - a producer on the Netflix show Castlevania - shared with IndieWire he had heard about Apu's run on the show coming to an end. According to him, he received the news from two people who worked on the show, and a third source who worked with 'The Simpsons' creator, Matt Groening.
However, executive producer Jean - whose journey with the show started way back in 1989 - tweeted: "Adi Shankar is not a producer on the Simpsons. I wish him the very best but he does not speak for our show." He did not add anything further on whether Apu would be staying on the show or not.
However, earlier this year, Shankar also launched a competition to write a script which "in a clever way subverts [Apu], pivots him, writes him out, or evolves him." This, according to Shankar, would solve the "Apu problem." He also claimed he would turn those scripts into episodes on his YouTube channel, where he posts parodies of films.
The Apu controversy started when Indian-American comedian Hari Kondabolu released a documentary called "The Problem with Apu," last year. He said the stereotypical portrayal of Apu had led people to make fun of him, based on the representation by the character on the show. "After a while, you'd watch The Simpsons on a Sunday and you'd get a sense of how you'd be made fun of at school on Monday, based on what Apu did in the latest episode," Kondabolu told the BBC last year.
"Apu was the only Indian we had on TV at all so I was happy for any representation as a kid. And, of course, he's funny, but that doesn't mean this representation is accurate or right," Kondabolu added. 'The Simpsons' addressed this issue, but the manner they adopted - by bringing it up in an episode this year - had left audiences divided over it.
The scene showed Marge and Lisa Simpson engage in a conversation, where Marge changes a bedtime story to make it seem more politically correct; surprisingly, however, Lisa objects to it and when Marge, distressed, asks her what she is supposed to do, Lisa tells the camera: "It's hard to say. Something that started a long time ago, decades ago, that was applauded and was inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?" What follows is her signaling to a photo of Apu by her bedside, which is signed: "Don't have a cow - Apu".
I think the fact that they put this "argument" in the mouth of Lisa's character, the character who usually champions the underdogs and is supposed to be the most thoughtful and liberal, is what makes this the most ridiculous (as in worthy of ridicule) and toothless response.— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) April 9, 2018
This caused outrage among certain audiences over how the important debate had been simply brushed aside, while others argued practically every Simpsons character is a staunch stereotype.
Loved how you guys handled this non-issue. People just want to cry about everything nowadays b/c it makes them feel like they’re doing something.— Vikram (@Vikram662) April 9, 2018
Don’t ever change!
Oh and I’m Indian and according to Twitter my opinion matters more on this topic, 😂.#ILoveApu #DontHaveACowMan
As of now, however, the show gave Newsbeat a one-line statement about Apu's future. "Apu appeared in the 14 October episode My Way or the Highway to Heaven (US airdate)." They did not mention if he will appear in any future episodes.