Last weekend, The Simpsons aired its 636th episode, officially surpassing Gunsmoke as the longest-running scripted show on primetime TV. During the past quarter-century, the series has evolved from a rough-edged satire to a brilliant, absurdist free-for-all to an established pop culture behemoth and finally, into the limping relic it is today, in dire need of being put out of its misery by a well-placed shot from Maggie's rifle.
But as the rest of The Simpsons grew and changed over the years—Barney got sober! Edna started fucking Ned!—one character somehow stayed the same: Apu. Hari Kondabolu's brilliant 2017 documentary The Problem with Apu made a concise case that the show's bad South Asian caricature was long overdue for an update, but so far, the show has avoided facing the issue, save for one pitiful attempt to address it during an April episode.
Now, The Simpsons creator Matt Groening has finally spoken out about the Apu controversy—by basically shrugging the whole thing off.
In an interview with USA Today last weekend about the show's record-breaking new episode, Groening was asked if he had any thoughts on Apu. "Not really," he said. "I’m proud of what we do on the show. And I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended." When the interviewer pushed him on the question, Groening said, simply, "We'll let the show speak for itself," and left it at that.
"Well, that seals it," Kondabolu wrote on Twitter following the USA Today interview. "Matt Groening finally responded & sounds like every other troll on the internet who didn’t see the documentary."
Groening's remarks come in stark contrast to Apu voice actor Hank Azaria's thoughtful comments on The Late Show recently, when Azaria acknowledged that it was important "to listen to Indian people and their experience with it" and said he'd be "perfectly willing to step aside" and hand the role to a South Asian actor. But between Groening and the half-assed attempt at discussing Apu last month, it doesn't seem like we'll be getting a strong or nuanced response to the controversy from the show anytime soon—unless producer Adi Shankar can actually pull off that plan to "crowdsource a cure for The Simpsons" and get the show's writer's room onboard.
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