Apu, the longstanding Kwik-E-Mart owner on The Simpsons, might pack up shop and leave the show over the ongoing controversy that the character is racist. It’s not a new complaint, but it’s one that gained traction after the documentary The Problem With Apu debuted last year. The documentary, written and hosted by stand-up comedian Hari Kondabolu, showed how the character promoted Indian stereotypes.
According to producer Adi Shankar, The Simpsons’ showrunners have plans to retire the character. “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.”
While not outright denying the claim, The Simpsons’ executive producer, writer, and showrunner Al Jean had something to say about Shankar’s statement on Twitter.
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
Plans for the character remain unclear, but it’s worth noting that Apu (Hank Azaria), hasn’t spoken a line on the show in more than a year. On an episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in April, Azaria said that he’d be willing to step down from the show to be replaced with an Indian actor. “I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it,” Azaria said. “I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers room… including how [Apu] is voiced or not voiced. I’m perfectly willing to step aside. It just feels like the right thing to do to me.”