The Simpsons character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, who has been criticized for promoting negative stereotypes about South Asians (and is voiced by white guy Hank Azaria), may be getting cut from the show. "I got some disheartening news back, that I’ve verified from multiple sources now: They’re going to drop the Apu character altogether," producer Adi Shankar tells IndieWire, claiming he heard the news from two people who work on the show and a third person who works directly with creator Matt Groening. "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." Shankar was talking to IndieWire about Apu because he recently held a spec script contest for an episode dealing with the show's "Apu problem" and had been hoping Fox would agree to produce the script.
Reached for comment, a rep for the show told IndieWire simply that "Apu appeared in the 10/14/18 episode 'My Way or the Highway to Heaven.'" IndieWire notes that the only shot Apu appears in during the episode is one in which dozens of characters are gathered around God. Comedian Hari Kondabolu, who made a recent documentary about Apu, responded to the news by tweeting, "There are so many ways to make Apu work without getting rid of him. If true, this sucks." The Daily Dot rounds up other critical and mournful responses on Twitter. Shankar, producer of films including Dredd and The Grey and co-showrunner of Castlevania on Netflix, plans to produce the winning script (which sees Apu going from Kwik-E-Mart owner to thriving businessman) himself on his Bootleg Universe YouTube page. (Here's what Azaria thinks should happen with Apu.)