by 👨💻 Graham Pierrepoint
The Simpsons, which is a record-breaker in terms of longevity and has been regarded as one of the most influential TV shows of all time – has been making the news for rather different reasons in the past few years. This year, certainly, it’s all been about Apu Nahasapeemapetilon – the Indian Kwik E Mart store clerk who has been part of the show’s main cast since its first season. Apu as a character has been a mainstay and is one of the show’s most popular – though concerns have continued to reverberate over whether or not he is a basic racial stereotype – particularly as Hank Azaria, a white actor, has been providing his voice.
Concerns over Apu were brought to the fore via comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary, The Problem of Apu, which examined the debate of cultural sensitivity and stereotyping surrounding the character. He had discussed how, as Apu was one of very few TV characters of South East Asian origin on US TV at the time, he was subjected to imitations of the character during his youth.
It’s been discussed whether or not Apu is still relevant in 2018 – and following much fervent debate, and following a brief, seemingly nonplussed response in-show, it appears The Simpsons may be doing away with the character altogether.
It’s thought that Apu will be quietly written out of the show, according to reports from Adi Shankar, a producer who heard the news from sources close to the programme. Shankar had previously attempted to encourage a script which would focus on transforming Apu from a stereotype, as he is perceived, into a more realistic depiction of an Indian-American.
▶ Controversy Leads "The Simpsons" To Retire Apu
Kondabolu tweeted with regard to the news. “There are so many ways to make Apu work without getting rid of him. If true, this sucks.” Certainly, Kondabolu’s documentary sought to discuss the character in a different light – looking at potential new ways for Apu to become relevant in 2018.
There has been no official confirmation with regard to what will happen to Apu barring a statement that confirmed he last appeared in an episode dated October 14th. Does this mean we’ve seen the last of the character? With Azaria already having stated he was willing to step aside to make way for an Indian voice actor, it seems this may be a decision no one was quite expecting – if true.