The Character Apu Removed From The Simpsons

In November, comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary called ‘The Problem with Apu’ addressed The Simpsons‘ stereotypical portrayal of Apu as a South Indian.  


In it he describes how The Simpsons is stuck in the past and, unlike other TV shows and movies, has been unable to create a three-dimensional character out of the Kwik-E-Mart owner. In the show, Apu is an Indian immigrant, voiced by a white actor Hank Azaria. 


On the late night talk show Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, Kondabolu explained his beef with Apu’s voice: “A cartoon character voiced by Hank Azaria, a white guy. A white guy doing an impression of a white guy making fun of my father.” Other South Asian actors and comedians interviewed in the documentary agree with Kondabolu, and many described how Apu and his catchphrase “Thank you, come again” was used to taunt them when they were younger. 


In The Simpsons’ recent episode titled “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” Marge and Lisa are reading a book called The Princess in the Garden which Marge updated to remove racist stereotypes. However, she then admits that by taken so she has taken “the spirit and character out of the book” and asks Lisa for advice. Lisa responds with “something that started decades ago, and was applauded and inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” 


After this episode twitter fan were disappointed with how this was dealt with especially because it used Lisa’s character to give the line when Lisa’s character is the most informed and liberal character. After this backlash, The Simpsons may be completely removing the character of Apu in order to get rid of the issue quickly.  


Fans were disappointed because they chose to ignore the issue insteading of slightly changing that character of Apu. Fans suggested that they could change it so that he owns a chain of kwik-i-marts and that his children could all speak however The Simpsons felt that because the show has been on for years that it’s too late to change a character.  


The concept of political correctness in comedy is a tricky one to navigate. For many people, they believe that there should be no limits to comedy and what can be deemed funny. What was considered acceptable and humorous in the 80s, when the show first aired, does not always translate well into the modern era. 


Some people believe that because The Simpsons is full of stereotypes that removing Apu is useless because it would mean considering removing other racist stereotypes. For example, Fat Tony is an Italian mafia member, many Irish characters are drunks, Comic Book Guy is a nerd and Chief Wiggum is an overweight cop who eats donuts and is terrible at his job.  


Adi Shanker, a youtube personality, launched a contest to create a new Simpsons episode centered around Apu in a way that evolves him insteading of killing the character.  


The script which won Mr Shanker's competition saw him as a thriving businessman in Springfield and add more prominent Indian-Americans.