The Simpsons has come under fire over the past couple of years for the show’s depiction of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the Kwik-E-Mart owner of South Asian descent. Many fans and critics of the show have called for producers to address the problems around the stereotypes reinforced with the depiction of the character.
Over the weekend, reports surfaced that The Simpsons was set to remove the Apu character from the show. Animator Adi Shankar, who is not actually affiliated with The Simpsons, told IndieWire that mulitple sources had informed him that the character would be quietly removed from the show without formally addressing the problem.
“I got some disheartening news back, that I’ve verified from multiple sources now: They’re going to drop the Apu character altogether,” Shankar told IndieWire. “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.”
Al Jean, a writer and producer for The Simpsons, has since refuted Shankar’s claims, saying he does not speak for the show.
Adi Shankar is not a producer on the Simpsons. I wish him the very best but he does not speak for our show.
— Al Jean (@AlJean) October 28, 2018
I wish you well too. Let’s work towards common ground. Ignoring only fans the flames. The world is polarized & getting more so, and the onus is on us to bring people together. Engage in a constructive way and this matter will go to bed. I see you, now I’m asking you to see me.
— Adi Shankar (@adishankarbrand) October 29, 2018
Hank Azaria, who voices the Apu character, previously said he was willing to step aside from playing the role.
The Apu issue was the subject of the 2017 documentary The Problem with Apu, which examined the depiction of Indian immigrants presented by the portrayal of the character.