‘The Simpsons’ finally responds to criticisms of Apu stereotyping
The Simpsons has responded to the Apu stereotyping controversy, and not everyone is down with how it was handled.
In the fifteenth episode of Season 29, “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” Marge reads Lisa “her favourite book ever,” The Princess in the Garden, which has troubling stereotypes of Irishmen and South Americans.
Aghast at the depictions she didn’t recognise as a youngster, Marge edits the book to make it ostensibly less offensive for this day and age. The book’s lead character Clara is now a “cisgender girl,” who releases wild horses and fights net neutrality.
Lisa dismisses the story as having “no point” because the character is already well-developed, leading to a discussion that indirectly references the Apu controversy.
“Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” Lisa said. It follows with a shot of a framed picture of Apu.
“Some things will be dealt with a later date,” Marge replied. “If at all,” Lisa said, before the pair look into the camera.
Last year, comedian Hari Kondabolu was behind the documentary The Problem With Apu. It unpacked The Simpsons‘ damaging South Asian caricature, Apu, who has had to grapple with the troubling stereotype of a convenience store clerk with an exaggerated, fake Indian accent since the show’s existence.
Actor Hank Azaria, who voiced Apu, said earlier in the year that the show’s writers would “definitely address” the criticism, but in light of Sunday’s episode, it appears they don’t care.
Kondabolu said on Twitter on Sunday the show’s response was a jab against “what many of us consider progress.”
In “The Problem with Apu,” I used Apu & The Simpsons as an entry point into a larger conversation about the representation of marginalized groups & why this is important. The Simpsons response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress.
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) April 9, 2018
There were also many people who weren’t cool with the show’s writers using Lisa, the show’s most socially progressive character, to be the voice of the response.
I think the fact that they put this “argument” in the mouth of Lisa’s character, the character who usually champions the underdogs and is supposed to be the most thoughtful and liberal, is what makes this the most ridiculous (as in worthy of ridicule) and toothless response.
— Wakanda Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) April 9, 2018
They should and could have done an entire episode with Apu responding to @harikondabolu‘s movie. They wouldn’t have to agree with him but they missed a huge opportunity to add in more layers and be topical. Instead, they went the lazy route and did this. https://t.co/ciUq39A4t6
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) April 9, 2018