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'The Simpsons' Creator Is 'Still Proud' of This Controversial Character

The Simpsons is a sitcom that has redefined the boundaries of animated shows, a long-running program that serves as a satirical depiction of American family life. The Simpsons has been running on television since 1989 and is showing no signs of fading away into obscurity anytime soon.

The series has weathered controversy after controversy, but nothing has haunted the show’s legacy quite like the character of Apu, a gas station attendant who has been slammed for being racially insensitive. In spite of the criticism that has been leveled at the character, series creator Matt Groening admitted in a recent interview that he is “proud” of the character. 

‘The Simpsons’ is a critically-acclaimed TV show

The Simpsons premiered on Fox in 1989 — inadvertently changing the course of the television landscape. Set in the fictional town of Springfield, The Simpsons provides a fresh, funny, witty take on events and situations that affect many average American families.

The family members — including Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa, and Maggie — all have their own neuroses and problems but are always able to overcome difficult situations. Still, the most enduring legacy of The Simpsons is likely the way that the show has not only been able to “predict” major pop culture events, but also to remain relevant with each passing year.

The Simpsons has won a slew of awards over the years, including 34 Primetime Emmy Awards and 2 Peabody Awards. While the Simpson family is the heart and soul of the series, there are a variety of supporting characters who play a big role in the mythology of the series — with the funny yet problematic Apu earning his own place early on in the series run. 

Who is the character Apu on ‘The Simpsons’?

The character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is an Indian-American man who operates a popular gas station in Springfield. Voiced by actor Hank Azaria, Apu was introduced in the first season.

Although he became a fan-favorite character right out of the gate, in more recent years, viewers have found a number of issues with the character. Many fans have slammed writers for creating a character that can be seen as racially insensitive, a stereotype of Indian-Americans. 

In 2020, increased backlash prompted Azaria, the actor who had voiced Apu from the beginning, to speak out and state that he would no longer lend his voice to the character of Apu and that he was willing to work with the network to find a new, more appropriate direction for Apu. 

What did creator Matt Groening say about Apu?

For the time being, the character of Apu is on a temporary hiatus from new episodes of The Simpsons. While the character could certainly be seen as casting a shadow on the legacy of The Simpsons, series creator Groening is definitely not ready to say goodbye to Apu just yet.

According to TheWrap, Groening spoke out in a recent interview, claiming that not only does he hope to bring back Apu in the near future for something “ambitious,” but he feels no shame about the character.

“I think the Apu stories are fantastic, and he’s one of the most nuanced characters on a silly two-dimensional cartoon show. So, yeah, I’m proud of Apu,” Groening said.

He also said that at this time, executives have not yet chosen a new voice actor to play Apu — so it could be a while before fans see the new incarnation of the character on The Simpsons

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