The Simpsons Made Its Apu Problem Even Worse
At nearly 30 years old, The Simpsons has been a pop culture institution for longer than many people reading this have probably been alive. And it goes without saying that the series has courted its fair share of controversy in that time. However, thanks to the most recent episode, “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” the series has managed to take an already delicate situation and make it even worse. And it’s all thanks to everybody’s favorite Kwik-E Mart owner, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.
The problem arose as the series finally acknowledged the 2017 documentary The Problem With Apu. That film traces the pop culture impact of the character, noting that while Apu shattered critical barriers when it comes to representing characters of South Asian descent on TV, it arguably did more harm than good. Apu is a character who reinforces negative stereotypes about Indian Americans. The film features interviews with celebrities like Aziz Ansari, Kal Penn and Maulik Pancholy, all of whom relate stories about being bullied and teased by people for whom Apu was their only point of reference for how South Asian people speak and behave.