Despite Simpsons creator Matt Groening saying that those upset about the show’s stereotypical depiction of Indian convenience store owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon “love to pretend to be offended,” it appears the long-running animated might be axing the character. This news comes from producer and filmmaker Adi Shankar who, in his efforts to launch a spec script contest that would solve the “Apu Problem,” has learned from two Simpsons staffers and an employee of Groening that the character is on his way out.
In an interview with Indiewire, Shankar says the character won’t be given a proper farewell, but will rather be shuffled out quietly. “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.”
A representative for The Simpsons replied to an inquiry on the issue by telling Indiewire that “Apu appeared in the 10/14/18 episode ‘My Way or the Highway to Heaven.’” As Indiewire points out, Apu appears only in a single wide shot alongside dozens of other characters.
“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,” Shankar added. “It’s not a step forward, or step backwards, it’s just a massive step sideways.”
Shankar would like to The Simpsons produce the spec script he chose as the winner of his contest, which comes from a Maryland doctor named Vishaal Buch. “In Buch’s script, Apu goes from a single store owner to a thriving businessman in Springfield,” Indiewire writes. “The spec episode doesn’t just focus on Apu, but pulls in other prominent Indian Americans in hilarious ways to highlight the importance of diversity and individuality through the lens of The Simpsons.
Since Shankar doesn’t believe the show will take it on, he’s planning to do it himself through his Bootleg Universe, which has previously produced films like Dredd and The Grey in addition to that amazing Power Rangers short film from 2015.
The Simpsons previously addressed the Apu controversy in April’s “No Good Read Goes Unpunished.” It...wasn’t good.