Started in 1989, The Simpsons is one of the longest running shows in America. Currently in its 29th season, The Simpsons has become an iconic fictional family and has become part of the American culture. Everyone knows and love Bart and Homer Simpson. But recently, the show has been drawn into a controversy about one of its second characters, Apu.
For those who do not know about the character or do not remember him in detail, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is an Indian immigrant, owner of the store Kwik-E-Mart in Springfield. Known for his catch phrase "Thank you, come again", he is portrayed by the voice of Hank Azaria - known to all Friends fans by playing David, the scientist character in love with Phoebe Buffay.
The character of Apu is clearly a stereotyped caricature of Indian immigrants. But because of the wild popularity of The Simpsons series, some are arguing that the character is actually having a negative impact on the Indian community.
Last year, stand-up comic actor Hari Kondabolu wrote and starred in a documentary titled The Problem with Apu. Directed by Michael Melamedoff, the film centered around the fact that some Indians find the character of Apu offensive. In an era of social media, the press caught up with the controversy until the show actually had to reply, in some form.
The series actually referred to it in its episode No Good Read Goes Unpunished. Aired on April 8, 2018, the episode includes a scene in which Marge (the mother) and Lisa (the daughter) talk about a book that Marge loved as a child. Marge explains that the book contains material that could be found offensive nowadays. Marge starts to erase parts of the book, but says that she will miss the emotional journey. When Marge asks her daughter what to do, Lisa then replies "It's hard to say. Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?" They then look at a picture of Apu.
After the episode aired, Kondabolu commented and said that he did not appreciate that the show would summarize the controversy by only referring to it as being politically incorrect. While some argues that Apu is an offensive character and should be either edited or replaced, some other argue that The Simpsons series is also showing many other stereotypes, such as the Italian mob boss, as one of its well-known examples.
If you want to make up your own mind, we suggest you to watch The Simpsons, as well as the documentary The Problem with Apu.