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“The Simpsons” Says Goodbye to Apu Character

The character, Apu, will no longer appear on

The character, Apu, will no longer appear on "The Simpsons" (via Wikimedia Commons).

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After appearing on The Simpsons for the past 28 years, the character Apu may be leaving the show. Showrunner Adi Shankar told IndieWire that The Simpsons has recently decided to drop the controversial character.

“I got some disheartening news back, that I’ve verified from multiple sources now: They’re going to drop the Apu character altogether,” said Shankar. Shankar confirmed that his sources were from two people that works for The Simpsons and a third source who works directly with creator Matt Groening, IndieWire reported. Although Shankar has claimed to receive these confirmations, The SImpson’s Executive Producer AL Jean tweeted that “Adi Shankar is not a producer for the show and does not speak for our show.”

Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is an Indian-American who operates the Kwik-E-Mart convenience store in Springfield, where the show is located. Apu is voiced by actor Hank Azaria, who is not South Asian. This controversy came to the forefront after comedian Hari Kondabolu’s released a documentary titled The Problem with Apu last November. In his documentary, Kondabolu portrays Apu’s character as a negative stereotype of South Asians. The Simpsons cast responded to Kondabolu’s callout on the Apu character with an episode, featuring mother Marge Simpson reading a book to daughter Lisa in which she refers to the heroine as a “cisgender girl.”

Marge asks “Well what am I supposed to do?” and Lisa’s reply was a clear response to the Apu controversy. “Something that started decades ago was applauded and inoffensive is now politically correct, What can you do?” Lisa says before looking at a photo of Apu on her nightstand. This episode only seemed to make the “Apu problem” even worse.

In order to combat the “Apu Problem”, Adi Shankar announced the “Apu Screenwriting Contest: Crowdsourcing the Cure for the Simpsons.” His intention was to crowdsource a script that transforms the character into a funny and realistic portrayal of Indians in America.

“We are looking for a screenplay centering on the character ‘Apu’ set in the world and canon of ‘The Simpsons’ that takes the character of Apu and in a clever way subverts him…intelligently writes him out, or evolves it in a way that take a mean spirited mockery and transforms him into a kernel of truth wrapped in funny insight,” according to the site promoting the competition.

Pine Crest Sophomore Matthew Vega took a similar stance to Shankar and disagrees with the removal of the Apu character.

“The show is already full of stereotypes, to the points where it almost relies on it as a substitute for comedy. Regardless, its part of the shows character. There is the Mexican bee guy, the Italian mob boss, the Scottish groundskeeper…they are all stereotypes.” said Vega.

The controversial decision to potentially drop the Apu character has been building since the release of Kondabolu’s documentary. Even though the removal might satisfy some, it could leave many others longing for one of their favorite characters.

 

Sources: IndieWire, CNN, Coverfly, Twitter

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“The Simpsons” Says Goodbye to Apu Character