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‘The Simpsons’ Responds to ‘The Problem With Apu’

“Welcome to Qwik-E-Mart” is not a harmless catchphrase.

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“The Simpsons” is under fire after the show’s offhanded response regarding the controversy over the character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. Last year a documentary was released on TruTV titled “The Problem With Apu.” The documentary addressed the fact that the character of Apu is a racial stereotype of South Asian Americans, and how the portrayal of the character has affected how people treat South Asian Americans in the real world. The documentary even has a scene with actor Aziz Ansari saying how once a man asked him and his father where the nearest Quick-E-Mart was.

On Sunday’s episode of “The Simpsons” titled “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” there is a scene where Marge is reading Lisa a children’s book, but it has been changed from its original format so as to not be as controversial. The book wraps up very quickly and doesn’t have much a story with it, prompting Lisa to say, “something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” The shot then pans over to a photo of Apu on Lisa’s nightstand. Marge then says, “some things will be dealt with at a later date,” with Lisa responding, “if at all.”

The scene has created a lot of controversy from fans and critiques of the show alike. The creator of “The Problem With Apu” was insulted at the fact that all the show seemed to get out of his documentary was that Apu was politically incorrect, as seen in the Tweets below.


Other’s have criticized the show’s usage of Lisa to portray this controversial message, as she is normally the more forward-thinking character of the show. Comedia W. Kamau Bell was especially angered at the show’s use of Lisa, and it’s flippant response to the documentary.

The voice actor of Apu, Hank Azaria has recognized the backlash towards his character in the past, saying “I think the documentary made some really interesting points and gave us a lot of things to think about and we really are thinking about it,” in an interview with TMZ back in December.

“The Simpsons” doesn’t seem to have responded to the public uproar over last night’s episode yet, and it’ll be interesting to see what the future of the character of Apu will be. The full clip from last night’s episode can be viewed below.

Caitlin Wills is a senior journalism major at the University of Colorado Boulder with a minor in creative writing. She has written for various websites including The Odyssey Online and The Tempest, and currently writes album reviews for MXDWN. She is also an avid fiction writer and is working on writing a novel. Follow her on Twitter @caitlinjherrera.

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