After 30 seasons of the epic sitcom, The Simpsons creators have reportedly decided to drop the character, Apu.
The Simpsons has received backlash recently over Indian character, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, who some have deemed inappropriate and racially insensitive.
Indian-American film producer, Adi Shankar, launched a contest in April to allow fans of The Simpsons to submit script ideas in which the ‘Apu problem’ could be rectified.
According to Indiewire, the producer hoped to find a script which ‘in a clever way subverts [Apu], pivots him, writes him out, or evolves him in a way that takes a creation that was the byproduct of a predominately Harvard-educated white male writers’ room, and transforms it into a fresh, funny, and realistic portrayal of Indians in America’.
Shankar found what he deemed the ‘perfect script’, written by family doctor, Vishaal Buch, in which Apu goes from a single store owner to a thriving businessman in Springfield.
Speaking about the competition and script, Shankar said:
The contest was never meant to be an attack against anyone, but I think in a lot of ways we weren’t asking for anything too radical than to be viewed in three-dimensions.
I think the beauty of Vishaal’s script is it did just that. It wasn’t preachy. It wasn’t hammering us over the head. When a lot of people hear ‘The Problem with Apu’ they roll their eyes, ‘there is no problem with Apu, it’s these millennials, they’re out of control.’
I think in a lot of ways those people will really like this episode.
However, Shankar heard from two people who work for the animated show, as well as a third source who works directly with creator, Matt Groening, that creators would be dropping Apu from the show.
He revealed the news to Indiewire, explaining the creators of the sitcom were going to quietly eliminate the character.
The producer explained:
I got some disheartening news back, that I’ve verified from multiple sources now: They’re going to drop the Apu character altogether.
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 added how he thought the decision was a bad move on behalf of the creators, saying:
If you are a show about cultural commentary and you are too afraid to comment on the culture, especially when it’s a component of the culture you had a hand in creating, then you are a show about cowardice.
It’s not a step forward, or step backwards, it’s just a massive step sideways. After having read all these wonderful scripts, I feel like sidestepping this issue doesn’t solve it when the whole purpose of art, I would argue, is to bring us together.
Series 30 of The Simpsons is currently airing on TV, though writer Matt Reiss has admitted to Vanity Fair in the past, Apu has ‘barely had a line in the past three seasons’.
Fans will have to keep an eye out for the character’s subtle exit from the show.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.