‘The Simpsons” may soon drop an Indian character from the show to avoid growing controversy, NBC News reported.
Apu Nahasapeemapetilon (voiced by Hank Azaria) has been a subject of some debate, particularly following last year’s documentary by comedian Hari Kondabolu — “The Problem With Apu” — which looks at Indian American stereotypes that Apu mimicked, the network said.
Then IndieWire on Friday published an interview with film producer Adi Shankar who said several people close to “The Simpsons” told him Apu soon would be shown the door, NBC News said.
Shankar isn’t affiliated with “The Simpsons” or Fox — the long-running animated comedy’s network — but he launched a contest in April calling for scripts in which Apu is portrayed beyond his current “stereotypical Indian immigrant” characterization, NBC News added.
He noted that “multiple sources” told him “they’re going to drop the Apu character altogether. 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.”
More from NBC News:
Shankar would not elaborate on his IndieWire interview when reached by phone by NBC News, stating that he didn’t want to give away his source. A spokesperson for Fox released a statement from “The Simpsons” executive producer Al Jean to NBC News stating, “Apu appeared in the 10/14/18 episode ‘My Way or the Highway to Heaven.'”
Before you assume too much
Kondabolu tweeted that the rumor of Apu’s apparent demise actually isn’t good news to him: “There are so many ways to make Apu work without getting rid of him. If true, this sucks.”
But Azaria — who’s voiced Apu since “The Simpsons” debuted in 1989 — told Stephen Colbert in April that he was willing to “step aside” from the character, NBC News said.
Kondabolu added that he’s always viewed Apu as a lazy representation of an entire culture as opposed to a hurtful character.
“I don’t find Apu offensive; I find him annoying and insulting,” he told the network. “But for me, one: It’s inaccurate. Two: It’s insulting to my parents. And three: When that’s the only depiction you have, that’s how the world sees you.”