The Simpsons Responds To Apu Controversy--And Some Fans Are Upset
"What can you do?"
Sunday night's episode of The Simpsons addressed the recent controversy surrounding the character Apu--and not everyone enjoyed what the show had to say. First, some background. In 2017, comedian Hari Kondabolu released a documentary called The Problem With Apu that put forth the idea that the convenience store owner is shown with negative racial stereotypes. Actor Hank Azaria, who voices Apu and won an Emmy for his performance, responded by saying the situation was "upsetting" and that the documentary made some good points.
A scene in Sunday night's episode, "No Good Read Goes Unpunished," shows Marge and Lisa trying to make a book, "The Princess in the Garden," inoffensive to people in 2018. In a fourth wall-breaking moment, Lisa turns to the camera and says, "Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?"
#TheSimpsons completely toothless response to @harikondabolu #TheProblemWithApu about the racist character Apu:— Soham (@soham_burger) April 9, 2018
"Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect... What can you do?" pic.twitter.com/Bj7qE2FXWN
The camera then moves to show a picture of Apu on Lisa's bedside table with the line "Don't have a cow" written on it." Then Marge chimes in with, "Some things will be dealt with at a later date." Lisa responds, "If at all." You can watch the full scene in the embed above.
This didn't go over so smoothly, something that executive producer Al Jean predicted would happen. Some viewers said it was a tone deaf response by the writers, one of whom was Simpsons creator Matt Groening. Jean defended his show in a series of tweets. He also thanked the fans who spoke positively about the episode and re-tweeted some messages of support, including one that said this matter is a "non-issue."
You can see screencaps of these exchanges below.
Kondabolu, the director of "The Problem With Apu," also responded. He said it's "sad" what The Simpsons did with the episode, suggesting the writers went down that path merely to get ratings.
TO THE JOURNALISTS WHO HAVE ASKED ME FOR A PUBLIC STATEMENT ABOUT LAST NIGHT’S SIMPSONS EPISODE, I JUST WANT SAY: “Congratulations to the Simpsons for being talked about & being seen as relevant again.”— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) April 9, 2018
Wow. “Politically Incorrect?” That’s the takeaway from my movie & the discussion it sparked? Man, I really loved this show. This is sad. https://t.co/lYFH5LguEJ— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) April 9, 2018
Et tu, Lisa?— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) April 9, 2018
The Simpsons, which is one of the longest running shows on TV, is currently in its 29th season. New episodes air Sunday nights on Fox.
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