Published Mar 25, 2020Last month, after years of debating the social morality of Apu from The Simpsons, actor Hank Azaria stepped down from his role voicing the Kwik-E-Mart character, later admitting that he regrets taking it on in the first place.
It seems that finally, showrunners are also in agreement with their misstep casting the role with a white actor, as producer Al Jean has come forward with a message that he would cast an "ethnically correct" actor if given the chance now.
In conversation with Radio Times, the producer expressed his regret surrounding the racially charged controversy about the character, while also making no concrete plans to rectify the situation:
If we were casting the character now, we'd cast someone who was ethnically correct to play Apu. The way we always wrote him, though, was as a hardworking, thoughtful family man who was smarter than everyone else in Springfield. The majority of the jokes were about Springfield not appreciating what a gem he is. So we're proud of him.
In recent years, the Azaria-voiced character has come under scrutiny by the larger public, as well as comedian Hari Kondabolu, who called the depiction a racially inaccurate "immigrant caricature."
Kondabolu famously called out The Simpsons creators in his documentary The Problem with Apu. In the documentary, Kondabolu interviews South Asian people to talk about the impact that stereotypical representations like Apu had on them in their lives.
Cast and crew have had a mixed bag of reactions to the ongoing scrutiny. Creator Matt Groening spoke with Exclaim! in 2018 about his latest series Disenchantment and at the time, he refused to comment on the Apu debate.
It remains unclear what the show will do with the character — but we do know he won't be written off the show.