Simpsons' Response to Apu Controversy Not Going Over Well

The show is being widely criticized for its response to documentary
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2018 7:09 PM CDT

Last November, a documentary looked at the Indian Simpsons character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and the way the exaggerated mannerisms of the Springfield Kwik-E-Mart owner push negative stereotypes of South Asians. On Sunday, The Simpsons responded to The Problem With Apu—and that response is not going over well. In Sunday night's episode, Marge is seen reading Lisa an updated, "politically correct," and much abbreviated version of a bedtime story. Bemoaning the newly sanitized version of the story, Lisa says, "Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?" She's looking pointedly at a photo of Apu inscribed with the Bart Simpson catchphrase, "Don't have a cow," while saying it. Reactions:

  • The Hollywood Reporter notes that Hari Kondabolu, who wrote and starred in The Problem With Apu, tweeted a response to the episode Sunday night. "Wow. 'Politically Incorrect?' That’s the takeaway from my movie & the discussion it sparked? Man, I really loved this show. This is sad," he wrote. His Twitter feed is full of more thoughts on the matter.
  • At GQ, Joshua Rivera writes that the Simpsons' response to the documentary is "a 'f*** you' if I've ever seen one, and it's not even subtle. It's also completely unacceptable."
  • CNN host W. Kamau Bell said the show's response was especially "toothless" given that it came from "Lisa's character, the character who usually champions the underdogs and is supposed to be the most thoughtful and liberal."
  • Kotaku notes that the documentary actually started after Kondabolu did a segment with Bell and complained that Apu, who is voiced by Hank Azaria, sounds like "a white guy doing an impression of a white guy making fun of my father."
  • The Washington Post notes that some Twitter users were on the Simpsons' side, and that showrunner Al Jean was on Twitter defending the episode.
  • Vanity Fair sums things up with this headline: "The Simpsons Still Doesn't Understand the Problem With Apu."
(Read more The Simpsons stories.)

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