It comes after several months of controversy regarding the Kwik-E-Mart owner and the portrayal of racial stereotypes.
Following a backlash regarding alleged racial stereotyping, ‘The Simpsons’ is set to write the character of Apu out of the long-standing animated series after 30 years, according to one of its producers.
Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the owner of Springfield’s convenience store the Kwik-E-Mart, will be quietly dropped from the series to “avoid the controversy”, Adi Shankar said.
Indian-American Shankar told IndieWire on Friday (October 26th) that he was told of the development by two staffers on the show, and a third source who works closely with ‘The Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening.
“I got some disheartening news back, that I've verified from multiple sources now: They're going to drop the Apu character altogether,” he said. “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 notably launched a contest back in April for the public to help write a script which transformed Apu from a bad stereotype into “a realistic portrayal of Indians in America”.
Later in the interview, he accused the show of “cowardice” and said it is “a massive step sideways”.
The controversy began in 2017, when Indian-American comedian Hari Kondabolu produced a documentary film titled The Problem With Apu, which generated a heated debate in the media about racial stereotyping in film and television.
He had said that, when growing up, Apu was one of the very few depictions of South East Asians on American television, and that many kids imitated the character to make fun of him at school. He also took issue with the fact that Apu was voiced by Hank Azaria, a white man.
If it is indeed true, the move comes after ‘The Simpsons’ tried in April this year to address the documentary's accusations in episode called ‘No Good Read Goes Unpunished’, poking fun at the controversy, but which only ended up making things worse.
In response to the character being dropped, Kondabolu tweeted at the weekend: “There are so many ways to make Apu work without getting rid of him. If true, this sucks.”