The Simpsons' problem with Apu might just be one that won't be solved easily, at least not in the eyes of fans.
Last fall, a documentary by comedian and filmmaker Hari Kondabolu called The Problem with Apu explored how the long-running character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon presented a problematic stereotype of South Asian people. Now, earlier this week it was reported that the long-running Fox animated series will quietly cut Apu from the series and fans are very conflicted about the prospect.
Producer Adi Shankar told IndieWire on Friday that the series has plans to simply eliminate Apu altogether just to avoid having to further address 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."
The controversy -- that Apu is a minstrel, a brown character played by white people for laughs -- is one that The Simpsons has already attempted to dodge dealing with to an extent. During an episode in April, Lisa turned to directly address the audience with a message that Apu was originally "inoffensive" while Marge noted that the show would address things "at a later date if at all." While Shankar, who himself is Indian-American, launched a screenwriting contest in May to help solve the problem with Apu, it now seems like the show's solution is to just walk away. It's something that Shankar says is a mistake.
"If you are a show about cultural commentary and you are too afraid to comment on the culture, especially when it's a component of the culture you had a hand in creating, then you are a show about cowardice," he said.
For fans, however, the issue is a little more complicated. Some feel that the character cannot be redeemed as any changes to Apu would effectively make him a different character entirely so removing him makes sense. Others feel like removing Apu is a missed opportunity to combat the South Asian stereotypes the show helped create and reinforce with Apu in the first place. Still others don't see a problem at all and continue to insist that The Simpsons has multiple other problematic stereotypes that no one seems to mind.
Read on to find out where fans of The Simpsons stand on the problem with Apu and his potential removal from the series and let us know your take in the comments.
The Simpsons airs Sundays on Fox.
Missing The Pointprevnext
Write Off The Whole Show
EVERY. SINGLE. CHARACTER. IS. A. CONTROVERSIAL. STEREOTYPE.October 27, 2018
They Could Have Used Apu To Educate
I only wish @TheSimpsons had used #Apu to draw attention to Indian issues, like how not all Indians are Hindu, the oppression of the Dalit-Bahujan and their fight for rights in India, and even your dilemma, how so many Indian-Americans don't get credit for assimilation.— TheLogicJunkie™ (@TheLogicJunkie) October 27, 2018
Agreed. There are so many ways to make Apu work without getting rid of him. If true, this sucks. https://t.co/czBDIvaTV0— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) October 26, 2018
Never Liked The Show Because of Apu
That may be fair. I don’t know about the campaign or the process by which it happened. All I know is that never liked or watched the show and it was almost solely because of #Apu and the worst imitation of an Indian accent known to man.— Ajay Kirtane MD SM (@ajaykirtane) October 27, 2018
Getting Rid of Apu Is Racistprevnext
Give Apu A Better Life
#Apu shouldn't be killed off. Let him have a mid life crisis and give him a new career.
Maybe he goes on vacation to India. Comes back and isn't happy. He goes to school gets his MBA and turns his shop into a "amazon go". Now he has more money and time for his family.#Simpsons— Ana Aguirre (@AnaAguirre90) October 28, 2018
Removing Apu Removes All Meaning
#TheSimpsons Removing #Apu is equivalent to Mark Twain removing Jim from Huck Finn. The show is meant to educate and challenge people. Provoke thoughts on family, religion, morals, etc... Removing Apu removes all meaning from any message the show ever tried to send.— James Garlock (@JamesGarizzle) October 28, 2018
People Can't Take A Joke
I'm brown and grew up watching The Simpsons with Apu. He was the man. Owned his store and was successful, and had a family. He put brown people on the map in the 90s in a good way.
Really sad to see them caving to super sensitive people that can't take a joke. #Apu— Ti (@chumboslice) October 28, 2018