A report surfaced Friday that Apu, The Simpsons' ultra-controversial Indian character, would be leaving the series permanently, and without explanation. However, just days after the news swept across the Internet, Simpsons producer/showrunner Al Jean is refuting the claims.
The initial report came from Indian-American producer Adi Shankar (Castlevania, Dredd), who spoke with IndieWire about the situation. "I got some disheartening news back, that I've verified from multiple sources now: They're going to drop the Apu character altogether," Shankar said. "They aren't going to make a big deal out of it, or anything like that, but they'll drop him altogether just to avoid the controversy."
On Sunday night, Jean responded to the claims, saying that Shankar doesn't work for The Simpsons, therefore can't know what the show is planning to do with its characters.
"Adi Shankar is not a producer on The Simpsons," Jean wrote in a tweet. "I wish him the very best but he does not speak for our show."
A few hours later, Shankar replied to Jean, saying that he wants to work towards "common ground" regarding Apu, and the best way to utilize him on the show.
"I wish you well too," he replied. "Let's work towards common ground. Ignoring only fans the flames. The world is polarized & getting more so, and the onus is on us to bring people together. Engage in a constructive way and this matter will go to bed. I see you, now I'm asking you to see me."
I wish you well too. Let’s work towards common ground. Ignoring only fans the flames. The world is polarized & getting more so, and the onus is on us to bring people together. Engage in a constructive way and this matter will go to bed. I see you, now I’m asking you to see me.— Adi Shankar (@adishankarbrand) October 29, 2018
The controversy surrounding Apu stems from the Indian stereotypes used to bring the character to life on the show, as well as the fact that he is voiced by a white actor, Hank Azaria. Over the past couple of years, the issue has reached new heights, following the release of a documentary called The Problem With Apu.
Shankar recently launched a competition to see if any writer could "solve the problem" with Apu on The Simpsons. He said that the goal was to develop a script that "in a clever way subverts [Apu], pivots him, writes him out, or evolves him in a way that takes a creation that was the by-product of a predominately Harvard-educated white male writers' room and transforms it into a fresh, funny and realistic portrayal of Indians in America."