Writers of The Simpsons have been criticized for their response to criticism over the show's character Apu. The beloved Kwik-E-Mart owner has been a fixture of the animated show for decades. However, recent discussion about him has called out the show for exploiting a character many feel works off racist stereotypes.
The show finally responded to the critics in an episode that aired on Sunday, April 8. The episode, titled "No Good Read Goes Unpunished," was flagged as a potential conversation point by executive producer Al Jean prior to its broadcast.
.@TheSimpsons New Simpsons in five minutes. Twitter explosion in act three.— Al Jean (@AlJean) April 8, 2018
The episode saw the subject tackled indirectly via a discussion between Marge and Lisa Simpson. Marge had edited a new version of an old book, updating it to bring it in line with 2018 standards. However, when she reads it to Lisa, the pair agreed the new version was lacking "an emotional journey" for the lead character.
Lisa was then shown looking at a picture of Apu as she said "something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?"
Comic Hari Kondabolu, who made 2017 documentary The Problem with Apu discussing the handling of race in The Simpsons and beyond, was among the first to respond to the episode.
"Wow. “Politically Incorrect?” That’s the takeaway from my movie & the discussion it sparked? Man, I really loved this show. This is sad," he tweeted.
In “The Problem with Apu,” I used Apu & The Simpsons as an entry point into a larger conversation about the representation of marginalized groups & why this is important. The Simpsons response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress.— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) April 9, 2018
He was joined by fellow fans and critics.
I think the fact that they put this "argument" in the mouth of Lisa's character, the character who usually champions the underdogs and is supposed to be the most thoughtful and liberal, is what makes this the most ridiculous (as in worthy of ridicule) and toothless response.— Wakanda Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) April 9, 2018
Beyond sad... they even threw this in for good measure pic.twitter.com/qjYthF0ckz— Soham (@soham_burger) April 9, 2018
And to have Lisa deliver the line... they are so unwilling to be in the wrong that they used the character who is least likely to say something like that.— Miranda George (@MirandaGeorge) April 9, 2018
I love when a bunch of Harvard white guys tell us what’s racist— osama bin eatin (@taIiban69) April 9, 2018
The FADER has contacted reps from Fox and The Simpsons for comment.