Is Apu leaving The Simpsons? The character is one of the show’s most-familiar faces, but also one of the most controversial. This is a character who has long perpetuated a South Asian-American stereotype, and the fact that he has been played by Hank Azaria, a white performer, has only added to the controversy.
While there has been discussion about Apu and his presence on the long-running Fox series for ages, a new documentary has led to even more people examining the subject. Comedian Hari Kondabolu recently created a documentary entitled The Problem with Apu, one that addressed the various flaws with the character — Kondabolu remains a fan of The Simpsons, and the idea of the documentary was not meant to be a take down of the series itself. (Kondabolu recently took part in a really interesting Nerdist Podcast that is worth a listen if you want more context on where he’s coming from with the documentary.)
In the wake of its release, Azaria himself (who did not take part in the project) addressed some of the criticism and admitted that the show could make changes as a result of it. Here is what he had to say on the matter to TMZ:
“I think the documentary made some really interesting points and gave us a lot to think about, and we really are … To hear that anybody that was hurt and offended by any character or vocal performance is really upsetting, that it was offensive or hurtful to anybody.”
What will The Simpsons do?
They have a number of different options that are at their disposal at the moment, and not all of them necessarily have to involve writing out or killing off the character. It could be as easy as hiring a new performer for the role or modernizing the character and admitting to some past mistakes. The Simpsons isn’t in the same era that it was in several decades ago; if a character like Apu was conceived in the modern-day it’d be subject to much more criticism than he is. He’s almost been glossed over the past ten years or so just because he was so established on a show and overlooked as a result of it.
What do you think about Azaria’s comments, and should The Simpsons make some changes to the Apu character? Be sure to share now in the attached comments!