Apu will continue to feature in The Simpsons, the show’s creator has confirmed.
Matt Groening made the announcement during Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim over the weekend. It comes months after creators were accused of racial stereotyping via the character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.
Variety reports that when Groening was asked about Apu’s future in the show, he replied: “Yes. We love Apu. We’re proud of Apu.”
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In 2017 the long-running comedy series came under fire for its depiction of Kwik-E-Mart owner after Hari Kondabolu asked in his documentary The Problem With Apu how widely the character is considered to be an offensive stereotype to people of Indian and Asian descent.
Apu first appeared in The Simpsons episode ‘The Telltale Head’ in 1990, voiced by white actor Hank Azaria.
Azaria – who voices other Simpsons characters – said he’d be “perfectly happy and willing to step aside,” from the character with regards to the controversy, adding, “listening to voices means inclusion in the writer’s room. I really want to see Indians, South Asian writers in the room. Not in a token way, but genuinely informing whatever new direction this character may take. Including how it is voiced, or not voiced.”
Rumours of Apu’s exit emerged last October via YouTube personality and Castlevania producer Adi Shankar who told IndieWire that The Simpsons planned to “drop the Apu character” altogether “just to avoid the controversy.”
The 31st season of The Simpsons premieres on September 29.