‘The Simpsons’ Is Eliminating Apu, But Producer Adi Shankar Found the Perfect Script to Solve the Apu Problem

As “The Simpsons” side-step the controversy and character altogether, Shankar will produce the contest winning script through his Bootleg Universe site.

In April producer Adi Shankar launched a spec script contest for “The Simpsons” to solve what has become known as the show’s “Apu Problem.” The long-running character, a convenience store owner voiced by Hank Azaria, has become a controversial figure because many believe him to be an inaccurate and hurtful portrayal of Indian-Americans.

It was Shankar’s intention to crowdsource a script that “in a clever way subverts him, pivots him, writes him out, or evolves him in a way that takes a creation that was the byproduct of a predominately Harvard-educated white male writers’ room and transforms it into a fresh, funny and realistic portrayal of Indians in America.”

Shankar’s primary hope was that Fox would produce the script as an episode of “The Simpsons,” but now that he has found what he calls the “perfect script” and announces the winner of his contest, he told IndieWire that he has heard from people who work for the show that “The Simpsons” is eliminating 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,” said Shankar in an interview with 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.”

Shankar clarified that he got this news from two people who work for “The Simpsons” and a third source who works directly with creator Matt Groening.

Reached for comment on Shankar’s allegations, a representative for “The Simpsons” at Fox provided a cryptic response: “Apu appeared in the 10/14/18 episode ‘My Way or the Highway to Heaven.’” In the episode, Apu only appears in a single wide shot (below) that showed dozens of characters gathered around God.

screen shot

“The Simpsons” episode “My Way or the Highway to Heaven”

Following Hari Kondabolu’s 2017 documentary “The Problem with Apu,” “The Simpsons” poked fun at the controversy in the ironically titled episode “No Good Read Goes Unpunished” that took a jab at the political correctness of the shows’ critics. Then in May, Matt Reiss, the only original writer still at the show, told Vanity Fair that the show dealt with the Apu problem back in 2016 episode, with the episode “Much Apu About Something,” and the character has “barely had a line in the past three seasons.”

Shankar believes the decision to yank the Apu character and avoid the controversy is a mistake, especially for a show known for its social satire.

“If you are a show about cultural commentary and you are too afraid to comment on the culture, especially when it’s a component of the culture you had a hand in creating, then you are a show about cowardice,” said Shankar. “It’s not a step forward, or step backwards, it’s just a massive step sideways. After having read all these wonderful scripts, I feel like sidestepping this issue doesn’t solve it when the whole purpose of art, I would argue, is to bring us together.”

Shankar who viewed his contest as an olive branch to the show, has picked a winning script from hundreds of submissions that he believes will be enjoyed by fans on both sides of the controversy. The Grand Prize winner is Vishaal Buch, a family doctor in Bethesda, Maryland.

Vishaal Buch

Vishaal Buch

Courtesy of Coverfly

In Buch’s script, Apu goes from a single store owner to a thriving businessman in Springfield. The spec episode doesn’t just focus on Apu, but pulls in other prominent Indian Americans in hilarious ways to highlight the importance of diversity and individuality through the lens of “The Simpsons.”

“The contest was never meant to be an attack against anyone, but I think in a lot of ways we weren’t asking for anything too radical than to be viewed in three-dimensions,” said Shankar. “I think the beauty of Vishaal’s script is it did just that. It wasn’t preachy. It wasn’t hammering us over the head. When a lot of people hear ‘The Problem with Apu’ they roll their eyes, ‘there is no problem with Apu, it’s these millennials, they’re out of control.’ I think in a lot of ways those people will really like this episode.”

Buch was like a number of the spec script contestants in that he had never written a screenplay before. In fact, Coverfly, the screenplay submissions management software company that administered the contest for Shankar, is helping the doctor this week translate his winning script into proper screenplay formatting.

“I think as entertainers we can be myopic in our view and it was really refreshing to read a script that was outside of our bubble, our ecosystem,” said Shankar. “It was clever and authentic.”

What Buch, a former US Air Force pilot, lacked in creative writing experience, he made up for with life experiences and a deep love and knowledge of “The Simpsons.”

“I was born in Oklahoma, moved to California, and have gone through all the ups and downs that comes with being an Indian-American,” said Buch. “To no one’s surprise I ended up in medicine, but what is different is that I actually practice in the US military. When you think of the US military you don’t necessarily think of an Indian guy, but that is how much the Indian-American has evolved. I grew up a huge fan of ‘The Simpsons,’ so to be able to help tell this story is a testimony to not only my hard work, but the hard work of others like me. It’s been a pleasure to work with Adi and his team, and I am incredibly excited for the journey.“

Shankar noted that the number of doctors who applied to the contest was enormous. He also noted that the guest star most often written into submitted spec scripts, by an extremely wide margin, was Elon Musk.

Adi Shankar

Adi Shankar

Project Bootleg

Shankar is working under the assumption “The Simpsons” will not produce and air Buch’s script, which Shankar is in the process of helping to hone, so he will do it himself through his Bootleg Universe YouTube page. In addition to producing big-budget action films like “Dredd” and “The Grey,” Shankar’s Bootleg Universe has been his outlet to produce short films that reimagine well-known franchises and characters, like James Bond, The Punisher, and most notably a 14-minute short based on the The Power Rangers — directed by Joseph Kahn, starring Katee Sackhoff and James Van Der Beek — which racked up over 11 million views in its first 24 hours online and that many believe Saban Film took its cue from in rebooting the “Power Ranger” franchise.

In addition to his work in live-action, Shankar also has roots in the animation world and is the co-showrunner of the animated Netflix series “Castlevania.” Shankar is confident that he is capable of producing an episode of “The Simpsons” that will sound and look like the Fox series. He is also open to inviting “The Simpsons” voice actors, including Hank Azaria, to lend their talents.

Below is a video Bootleg made for $3,000 to test how it would emulate the art and style of the show.

Shankar also named a second place winner: Tasha Dhanraj, a London-based comedy writer represented by Emily Wraith at Berlin Associates. The producer said he hasn’t 100 percent ruled out producing that script as well, but mostly he wanted to acknowledge Dhanraj’s “incredible talent.”

‘South Park’ Trolls ‘The Simpsons’ in ‘The Problem With a Poo’ Episode Twist Ending (Video)

It may not come as a surprise that a “South Park” episode titled “The Problem With a Poo” included a shot at “The Simpsons,” which has been criticized lately for it’s long-running Indian caricature-character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, most notably in documentary “The Problem With Apu.” But how Wednesday’s Comedy Central half-hour actually ended might jolt your system a bit.

“The Problem With a Poo” centered on Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo, who is a talking piece of poo in a Santa Claus hat that’s been in and out of “South Park” since the very beginning. In a hearing meant to mock Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination testimony, Mr. Hankey defended offensive tweets he posted.

The whole circus really turned into a Kavanugh-Roseanne Barr hybrid joke when the literal piece of crap blamed Ambien for his unkind social media posts. Yeah, the cast-off “Roseanne” star did that in real life.

Also Read: Catholic League President Calls ‘South Park’ Creators ‘Cowards’ Over ‘A Boy and a Priest’ Episode

At the end of last night’s episode, Mr. Hankey was sent packing from the lovely little town of South Park, where nothing offensive ever happens.

“Where will he go?” Stan Marsh asks.

“He’ll have to find a place that accepts racist, awful beings like him,” dad Randy replies. “There are still places out there who don’t care about bigotry and hate.”

Also Read: ‘South Park’ Season 22 Premiere: ‘Dead Kids’ Bags 1.5 Million Viewers on Wednesday

Cut to: A relative facsimile of “The Simpsons” opening music and its classic scroll-down from the clouds.

Apu welcomes Mr. Hankey in the Springfield Square, and the the whole thing closes with a #cancelthesimpsons hashtag. That’s a play on the #cancelsouthpark hashtag that Comedy Central has used in its promotion of this current season.

Watch the ending of “The Problem With a Poo” below.

Also Read: ‘Simpsons’ Showrunner Jokes That 17 People Were Fired Over This Huge Mistake From 23 Years Ago

South Park just went there on @TheSimpsons and Apu #cancelthesimpsons pic.twitter.com/djT8eTRgfn

— Matt Wilstein (@mattwilstein) October 11, 2018

Also Read: Matt Groening Finally Explains That Michael Jackson ‘Simpsons’ Cameo (Video)

“Simpsons” home Fox did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on the “South Park” swipe, nor did it’s studio, 20th Century Fox. Comedy Central did not immediately elaborate on it either.

Here’s what “Simpsons” showrunner Al Jean had to say about the episode:

.@TheSimpsons Please don’t cancel @SouthPark

— Al Jean (@AlJean) October 11, 2018

Also Read: Hank Azaria Says He’s ‘Happy and Willing to Step Aside’ as Voice of Apu on ‘The Simpsons’ (Video)

This isn’t the first time the two popular animated shows have commented on one other. “South Park” Episode 607 was titled “Simpsons Already Did It,” and the whole plot basically revolved around the fact that the Fox comedy has been on TV for so long there are no original plot devices left for a younger show. Fast-forward to now, and “South Park” is in its 22nd year of existence.

“The Simpsons” have mostly relied on Bart to fire off a few rounds at its cable rival.

Below are video compilations of both shows getting their licks in.

Also Read: ‘The Simpsons’ Unkillable ‘Steamed Hams’ Meme Explained by Its Creator



Related stories from TheWrap:

‘The Problem With Apu’ Trailer: Doc Shreds ‘Simpsons’ Most Stereotypical Character (Video)

‘Simpsons’ Showrunner Promises to Seek ‘Popular’ and ‘Right’ Solution to Apu Problem

‘Simpsons’ Producers ‘Haven’t Talked About’ Retiring Apu

It may not come as a surprise that a “South Park” episode titled “The Problem With a Poo” included a shot at “The Simpsons,” which has been criticized lately for it’s long-running Indian caricature-character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, most notably in documentary “The Problem With Apu.” But how Wednesday’s Comedy Central half-hour actually ended might jolt your system a bit.

“The Problem With a Poo” centered on Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo, who is a talking piece of poo in a Santa Claus hat that’s been in and out of “South Park” since the very beginning. In a hearing meant to mock Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination testimony, Mr. Hankey defended offensive tweets he posted.

The whole circus really turned into a Kavanugh-Roseanne Barr hybrid joke when the literal piece of crap blamed Ambien for his unkind social media posts. Yeah, the cast-off “Roseanne” star did that in real life.

At the end of last night’s episode, Mr. Hankey was sent packing from the lovely little town of South Park, where nothing offensive ever happens.

“Where will he go?” Stan Marsh asks.

“He’ll have to find a place that accepts racist, awful beings like him,” dad Randy replies. “There are still places out there who don’t care about bigotry and hate.”

Cut to: A relative facsimile of “The Simpsons” opening music and its classic scroll-down from the clouds.

Apu welcomes Mr. Hankey in the Springfield Square, and the the whole thing closes with a #cancelthesimpsons hashtag. That’s a play on the #cancelsouthpark hashtag that Comedy Central has used in its promotion of this current season.

Watch the ending of “The Problem With a Poo” below.

“Simpsons” home Fox did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on the “South Park” swipe, nor did it’s studio, 20th Century Fox. Comedy Central did not immediately elaborate on it either.

Here’s what “Simpsons” showrunner Al Jean had to say about the episode:

This isn’t the first time the two popular animated shows have commented on one other. “South Park” Episode 607 was titled “Simpsons Already Did It,” and the whole plot basically revolved around the fact that the Fox comedy has been on TV for so long there are no original plot devices left for a younger show. Fast-forward to now, and “South Park” is in its 22nd year of existence.

“The Simpsons” have mostly relied on Bart to fire off a few rounds at its cable rival.

Below are video compilations of both shows getting their licks in.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'The Problem With Apu' Trailer: Doc Shreds 'Simpsons' Most Stereotypical Character (Video)

'Simpsons' Showrunner Promises to Seek 'Popular' and 'Right' Solution to Apu Problem

'Simpsons' Producers 'Haven't Talked About' Retiring Apu

South Park will somehow tackle both Brett Kavanaugh and The Problem With Apu simultaneously

It’s only been a couple episodes, but South Park seems pretty serious about tackling hot-button issues this season. The premiere was about becoming desensitized to school shootings and last week’s episode was about Catholic priests molesting children, …

It’s only been a couple episodes, but South Park seems pretty serious about tackling hot-button issues this season. The premiere was about becoming desensitized to school shootings and last week’s episode was about Catholic priests molesting children, and next the show is going to be addressing both the Brett…

Read more...

15 ‘Simpsons’ Episodes That Stirred the Apu Stereotype Conversation (Photos)

“I never heard anyone say I like Apu because he exposes the idiocy and bigotry of the average American and showed the struggle of the immigrant,” comedian Hari Kondabolu says in his documentary “The Problem With Apu.” And yet pa…

“I never heard anyone say I like Apu because he exposes the idiocy and bigotry of the average American and showed the struggle of the immigrant,” comedian Hari Kondabolu says in his documentary “The Problem With Apu.” And yet part of the reason Apu has remained a more central character to “The Simpsons” is that, over many seasons, the show has provided him with back stories and human flaws. Yet still, the discussion about Apu’s stereotypical roots, how he’s voiced by white actor Hank Azaria, and whether the character should remain on the show, still continues. Below, we’ve examined some of Apu’s most prominent moments on “The Simpsons” and how these have shaped the character and the controversy around him.

“The Telltale Head”

Apu’s first appearance came in the series’ eighth episode, in which Bart orders four Squishees for his friends, only to realize he was used as a distraction so they could steal while Apu’s back was turned.

“A Streetcar Named Marge” and “Marge vs. the Monorail”

These two episodes are early instances of Apu singing, which Kondabolu says in the film makes him a minstrel character. The first comes in a musical production of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” where Apu has a small walk on part in the stage play and gets a brief solo. Apu’s accent gets laid on thick before he yelps in excitement when Marge kisses him on stage. In the famous Monorail episode written by Conan O’Brien, Apu sings, “Is there a chance the track could bend,” which is rhymed with, “Not on your life, my Hindu friend.”

“Marge in Chains”

In this episode, Apu prosecutes Marge for shoplifting after she accidentally tries to walk out of the Kwik-E-Mart with a bottle of bourbon. He and Sanjay celebrate with stereotypical sounding Indian music. And on the witness stand, he reveals he knows the number pi to 400,000 digits. “The last number is one,” he says.

“Homer’s Barbershop Quartet”

In this Beatles parody, Homer, Principal Skinner, Apu and Barney form a barbershop quartet and hit super stardom. But before they do, an agent tells Apu that he has to change his last name when he reveals for the first time it’s Nahasapeemapetilon. The agent says it’ll never fit on a marquee, to which Apu responds, “it is a great dishonor to my heritage and my God, but okay!” And when a reporter asks Apu if he’s actually Indian, he denies it by saying, “By the many arms of Vishnu, I swear it’s a lie.”

“Homer and Apu”

This fifth season episode was the first dedicated solely to Apu. Homer poses as an (unwitting) informant who gets Apu exposed, shamed and fired for selling spoiled, rotten food at exorbitant prices. He then comes to Homer with his hands outstretched, which Apu explains is a gesture of apology, and not as Homer initially interprets, Apu coming to strangle him. After a quick song-and-dance number, they travel to India to the first ever Kwik-E-Mart, perched on top of a massive mountain, to win Apu’s job back. The Indian CEO of the Kwik-E-Mart repeats Apu’s “Thank you, come again” catch phrase and is voiced by Harry Shearer, also a white man. Once back in Springfield, Apu takes a bullet for guest star James Woods, who gets Apu his job back.

“Lisa the Vegetarian”

In this episode, Apu reveals that he’s a vegan, teaching Lisa, who has converted to being a vegetarian and insists on lecturing everyone in her family, a lesson about tolerance in the process. But he does so with a little help from his friends, Paul and Linda McCartney. He explains that he met Paul back in their Maharishi days in India and came to be known as “The Fifth Beatle.” He then regales Lisa with his own rendition of “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band,” sung in Apu’s thick dialect.

“22 Short Films About Springfield”

This episode provides a rare glimpse into Apu’s social life, in which his brother Sanjay convinces him to take five minutes off work for a 4th of July party. He very quickly paints the town red, even getting in a quickie in a pool shed, before heading back to a life of eternal work at the Kwik-E-Mart.

“Much Apu About Nothing”

Another landmark episode for Apu, when a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment hits Springfield, Apu reveals that he’s a “semi-illegal alien.” The episode dives into Apu’s backstory and Indian heritage in a way no episode had previously. He says he graduated first in his class out of 7 million students from Caltech, “Calcutta Tech.” He then came to America to study before taking a job at the Kwik-E-Mart to pay his student loans, but keeping the job because he loved the work. Apu passes his citizenship exam and gets to remain in Springfield legally. It’s also worth noting that all of the actors voicing Apu’s family in flashbacks are done by white actors.

“The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons”

Apu briefly plays the ladies man in Springfield before his mother contacts him from India informing him that his arranged marriage, set up when he was a child, will now come to pass. He makes an excuse that he’s already gotten married and convinces Marge, Bart and Lisa to pose as his wife and kids. His ruse doesn’t last when Apu’s mother comes to visit, but he immediately takes to his bride to be, Manjula, who has since become a recurring character. Apu and Manjula have a traditional Indian wedding, which Homer tries to spoil by dressing up as a Hindu god. An academic in Kondabolu’s documentary points to this episode as how Apu’s backstory isn’t necessarily specific to Indians but south Asians broadly.

“Eight Misbehavin'”

Apu finds that Manjula was slipped too many fertility drugs by the Simpsons in an attempt to get pregnant, resulting in the Nahasapeemapetilans giving birth to octuplets. In their desperation to care for them, Apu can be seen wearing a makeshift bladder on his chest that can hold eight milk bottles, and Manjula resorts to carrying two babies while balancing a laundry basket on her head.

“The Sweetest Apu”

When Apu gets caught cheating on Manjula with one of his delivery ladies, the show probed the couple’s marital problems in much the way it did with Milhouse’s ultimately divorced parents.

“Kiss Kiss Bang Bangalore”

When Homer is sent to Bangalore to lead the nuclear power plant’s outsourcing, Apu tells him to meet with his cousin, described as having medium height, dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair, the joke being that this describes just about everyone in India. Homer looks out over thousands of faces and starts surveying the crowd, but manages to find Apu’s cousin after asking just two people.

“Much Apu About Something”

Several years before Kondabolu made his documentary, “The Simpsons” addressed the Apu controversy with an episode in which comedian Utkarsh Ambudkar voiced Apu’s millennial nephew in which the character confronts Apu for just being a stereotype. But Ambudkar ultimately was disappointed by the episode, saying in Kondabolu’s documentary that the show then undercut his monologue with the equally stereotypical Luigi shrugging that all of “The Simpsons” characters are caricatures.

“No Good Read Goes Unpunished”

Apu doesn’t appear in the episode where “The Simpsons” address his controversy, but a photo of him with the line “Don’t have a cow man” appears next to Lisa’s bedside. Marge has redacted all the offensive lines from an old book that used to be her favorite, which Lisa says has made it lose all its value. “Some things will have to be addressed at a later date,” Marge says. “If at all,” Lisa replies, before glancing at the photo of Apu. The episode was widely criticized as being an inadequate response, including by Kondabolu.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Simpsons' Producers 'Haven't Talked About' Retiring Apu

'The Simpsons' Creator Brushes Off Apu Criticism: 'People Love to Pretend They're Offended'

Hank Azaria Says He's 'Happy and Willing to Step Aside' as Voice of Apu on 'The Simpsons' (Video)

Producer Adi Shankar Wants to Fix ‘The Simpsons’ Apu Problem, Launches Spec Script Contest To Crowdsource a Cure

Exclusive: If “The Simpsons” writers room rejects the winning script, Shankar’s Bootleg Universe will produce the episode as a fan film that will look exactly like the real show.

“‘The Simpsons’ is sick and this contest is crowdsourcing the cure.” That’s the pitch for producer Adi Shankar’s (“Lone Survivor,” “Dredd,” “The Grey”) spec script competition, which he is launching today in an effort to find a solution to what has become known as the show’s “Apu Problem.” The long-running character, a convenience store owner voiced by Hank Azaria, has become a controversial figure because many believe him to be an inaccurate and hurtful portrayal of Indian Americans.

“Apu is not even a stereotype, that’s what everyone is missing out on,” said Shankar, who was born in India, in an interview with IndieWire. “The stereotype of Indians is we’re doctors, we’re smart people, leaders in tech, the CEO of Microsoft, CEO of Google. We’re high achievers and we are that because to immigrate here from India there were so many restrictions literally only the best of the best and the brightest of the brightest were allowed to come over to this land of opportunity. [Apu] is an inaccurate, fabricated archetype that was created by ‘The Simpsons’ and carved into the American conscientiousness through blunt force over 30 years.”

Shankar’s contest is searching for a spec screenplay of “The Simpsons” that centers on the Apu character and — according the contest website — “in a clever way subverts him, pivots him, writes him out, or evolves him in a way that takes a creation that was the byproduct of a predominately Harvard-educated white male writers’ room and transforms it into a fresh, funny and realistic portrayal of Indians in America.” Shankar will personally take the winning script to “The Simpsons” writers’ room and Fox, urging them to turn the script into an episode (as well as hire the winning writer) for the upcoming season. If rejected, Shankar is promising that he will finance the winning script and produce it as a fan film for his Bootleg Universe.

In addition to producing big-budget action films like “Dredd” and “The Grey,” Shankar’s Bootleg Universe YouTube channel has been his outlet to produce short films that reimagine well-known franchises and characters, like James Bond, The Punisher, and most notably a 14-minute short based on the The Power Rangers — directed by Joseph Kahn, starring Katee Sackhoff and James Van Der Beek — which racked up over 11 million views in its first 24 hours online and that many believe Saban Film took its cue from in rebooting the “Power Ranger” franchise.

While rights holders, like Saban Film and MGM (James Bond) have claimed copyright infringement and had the Bootleg shorts temporarily taken down, Shankar has ultimately prevailed in each case under the umbrella of “Fair Use” — the legal principle that secures the public’s right to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for purposes of commentary and criticism — and the argument that his shorts, beyond the recognizable actors and big budget Hollywood production value, are no different than the tens of thousands of pieces of other fan art in which the creators don’t profit from sharing online.

“With the past bootlegs it nearly got to a head legally, but the reality is the fair use of it all has always withstood,” said Shankar. “I view Project Bootleg as video street art, but also [a chance] to peak under the hood of some of these brands and really look at what they were saying. What is this show actually about? In a way, these were all love letters to these franchises.”

In addition to his work in live-action, Shankar also has roots in the animation world and is the co-showrunner of the animated Netflix series “Castlevania.” Shankar is confident that he is capable of producing an episode of “The Simpsons” that will sound and look like the Fox series, but he hopes it doesn’t come to that.

Since the Apu controversy was sparked by Hari Kondabolu’s 2017 documentary “The Problem with Apu,” which aired on TruTV, Shankar has spoken up, most notably in an open letter taking comedian Bill Maher and current “Simpsons” showrunner Al Jean to task for their arguments that the Apu character was “celebrated” and seen as “inoffensive” in the 1980s and ’90s.

“You know this accent I’m talking to you in,” said Shankar, who doesn’t speak with any form of noticeable Southeast Asian accent. “This is an accent I made up at the age of 16 when I immigrated to America by myself, two days before 9/11 happened, because I knew that Apu was a thing and I made a cosmetic change to the way I speak. I should sound closer to Kunaul Nayyar or Kumail Nanjiani, but I invented this accent. There are ripple effects through my own personal life.”

Shankar told IndieWire that it was “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening’s recent comments to USA Today — “I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended” — regarding the Apu controversy, that drove him to anger and eventually to take action. Shankar admits at first he busied himself thinking up immature ways to get back at Groening — like having battle rappers record themselves making fun of “The Simpsons” creator, or getting street artists to draw Apu doing bad things to Groening while warning him to not be offended — but that ultimately he decided he needed to do something productive.

“I was angry, very angry, I’m now approaching this from a place of love,” said Shankar. “I want to find a solution that is acceptable to everyone, so we can just stop and go back to being on the same side. This doesn’t need to be a thing. We just need to stop debating how severe the problem is and just address the problem. Set a good example for future creators and then move on.”

Shankar has partnered with Coverfly — a screenwriting talent discovery platform, that is building a roster of top undiscovered talent — for the contest, which will start taking submissions today and close on June 30th. Judges include several high profile Indian-Americans including Amar Shah, Nayan Pardari, Sheetal Vyas, Rupak Ginn, Michelle Matsunaga, Nancy Redd, and Kailey Marsh.

Adi Shankar

Adi Shankar

Project Bootleg

Shankar emphasizes that the contest is open to “all humans” and that he is hoping non-screenwriters with ideas about how to handle the “Apu problem” don’t let screenwriting formatting and jargon keep them from applying. He also emphasizes that taking a politically correct approach to the spec script story is not a likely path to victory.

To learn more, click here.

Hank Azaria Is Willing to Stop Voicing Apu and Hopes ‘The Simpsons’ Hires South Asian Writers

“My eyes have been opened,” the actor said of the controversy surrounding Apu.

Who needs the Kwik-E-Mart? Hank Azaria is ready to say goodbye to Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. The actor told “The Late Late Show” host Stephen Colbert on Tuesday that he was “perfectly willing and happy to step aside, or help transition it into something new. I really hope that’s what ‘The Simpsons’ does. It not only makes sense, but it just feels like the right thing to do, to me.”

Azaria has voiced Apu since “The Simpsons” launched nearly three decades ago. But concerns over the stereotypical nature of the character have gained more attention after being the subject of the documentary “The Problem with Apu.” In that film, comedian Hari Kondabolu interviewed celebrities of South Asian descent about the negative impact that the character has had on them. Azaria has previously expressed concern that Apu might be deemed offensive or hurtful, and has said that the show will address the issue.

Indeed, “The Simpsons” recently broached the subject of Apu in the episode “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” in a scene where Marge and Lisa noted the show still isn’t sure what to do with the character.

“It’s hard to say,” said Lisa, next to a photo of Apu. “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” But the show’s decision to focus on political correctness, and use normally sensitive and progressive Lisa as the sounding board, disappointed many critics.

Weighing in on “The Simpsons” while promoting Season 2 of his live-action IFC comedy “Brockmire,” Azaria said he wasn’t aware until air (since Apu isn’t voiced in that scene) that it was going to be handled that way.

“I think that if anybody came away from that segment feeling that they should lighten up or take a joke better or grow a thicker skin or toughen up — yeah, that’s certainly not the way I feel about it,” Azaria said. “And that’s definitely not the message that I want to send.”

Azaria said he has given a lot of thought to the fare of Apu and how the show might properly address the character.

“It’s come to my attention more and more over the past couple years,” he told Colbert. “My eyes have been opened. And I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people in this country, when they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character, and what their American experience of it has been.

“In television terms, listening to voices means inclusion in the writers’ room,” he added. “I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers’ room, not in a token way, but genuinely informing whatever new direction this character may take, including how it is voiced or not voiced.”

In January, Azaria told reporters that “the idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased or worse based on the character of Apu on ‘The Simpsons,’ the voice or any other tropes of the character is distressing.”

“The Simpsons” executive producer Al Jean has limited his comments on the aftermath of the episode, only writing on Twitter that  “I truly appreciate all responses pro and con. Will continue to try to find an answer that is popular & more important right.”

Here’s a clip from Azaria’s appearance on “The Late Late Show”:

‘The Simpsons’ Showrunner Al Jean Promises to Find a More ‘Popular’ Answer to the Apu Problem

After a week-long Twitter war with fans following Sunday’s episode, the showrunner continues to court bad publicity. Now, he’s promised a solution of sorts.

The Simpsons” showrunner Al Jean hasn’t stopped responding to fans on Twitter since Sunday’s controversial episode, and days of bad publicity don’t seem to be coming to an end. The episode, titled “No Good Read Goes Unpunished” — an ironic title, given the slang usage of “read” as a synonym for criticism in modern social media — was intended to be a commentary on political correctness. Instead, it was met with widespread criticism when it briefly referenced and seemingly shrugged off the controversy surrounding its long-standing supporting character, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.

One of the most known South Asian characters on primetime television, Apu has always been a point of contention for the award-winning show. His exaggerated accent, mannerisms, and quirks are all indicative of offensive Indian stereotypes, further exacerbated by the fact that his voice actor (Hank Azaria) isn’t even Indian. A 2017 documentary, “The Problem with Apu,” finally brought the issues to the attention of viewers who were perhaps unaware of the controversy.

In response, Jean and Azaria promised that the controversy would finally be brought up on the show, with the former even tweeting:

The so-called “explosion” is a shoehorned scene with Marge and Lisa. After Marge tries and failed to make a childhood book politically correct, she asks her daughter how to address the issue. Lisa, replies that “something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”

She looks at a framed photo of Apu by her bed. “Don’t have a cow,” it reads.

And that’s it. That’s how “The Simpsons” addresses the long-awaited response to a racist caricature. Days later, Jean was back on Twitter again, saying:

The lackadaisical response only gained more ire from fans and critics alike, kickstarting a week of Twitter wars between the showrunner and nearly every person who replied to his comments. Jean even linked an article to the conservative site “National Review” to defend the continued use of the character.

Some fans used equally incendiary language toward the showrunner. Others wondered why it was so difficult for him to admit his wrongdoing.

Additionally, the episode was poorly received and viewed by critics as indicative of a larger series problem, most notably by Dennis Perkins of “The A.V. Club.” “Man, is this episode unfunny,” he writes, before going on to ask in the review: “Why are present-day Simpsons writers averse to telling a main story?”

Following the weeklong Twitter war, Jean seemed to somewhat remove himself from the issue, at least for now.

But the aftermath of this social media war now seems to raise new questions: How can a show that’s won numerous accolades for its wit continue to rely on sloppy racial humor? And what “popular” answer will Jean come up with next?

“The Simpsons” advised its viewers to not have a cow over Apu. If Jean’s Twitter is any indication, it seems that it was unable to follow its own advice.

‘Simpsons’ Showrunner Promises to Seek ‘Popular’ and ‘Right’ Solution to Apu Problem

“The Simpsons” showrunner Al Jean has answered some of the criticism to the show’s response to “The Problem With Apu” documentary, ultimately promising to contemplate the issue further.

“I truly appreciate all responses pro and con,” Jean wrote in a tweet on Friday after engaging with several of his followers about Sunday’s episode. “[We] will continue to try to find an answer that is popular & more [importantly] right.”

The statement echoes what was said in the episode, set up as a response to comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary criticizing the show for its stereotypical Indian-American character Apu (voiced by Hank Azaria with a thick accent). Titled “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” the episode delves into the issue through the lens of a beloved children’s book that seems racist and offensive from a modern day perspective.

Also Read: ‘The Simpsons’ Pushes Back at Critics of ‘Politically Incorrect’ Apu (Video)

“Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” one character says in the episode. The line is met with the response, “Some things will be dealt with at a later date.”

In a separate tweet, Jean explained the moment to a confused viewer: “There’s no answer that will satisfy.”

Kondabolu’s truTV documentary, “The Problem With Apu,” released in November, studied the effects of what he believed to be negative stereotypes perpetuated by the popular Eastern Indian character. The show’s fans and critics have spent the intervening months waiting to see how “The Simpsons” would answer those criticisms.

“In ‘The Problem with Apu,’ I used Apu & ‘The Simpsons’ as an entry point into a larger conversation about the representation of marginalized groups & why this is important,” Kondabolu wrote on Twitter following the episode. “‘The Simpsons’ response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress.”

Also Read: ‘The Simpsons’ Oral History of ‘Last Exit to Springfield,’ The Best Episode Ever

Up until Friday, however, Jean continued to defend the episode, saying it “could be unpopular but still be right” and equating the entire debate to a “free speech issue.”

“We tried bringing in Utkarsh Ambudkar as Apu’s nephew. It was deemed unsatisfactory — there’s no solution I fear that will satisfy,” Jean wrote in reply to one fan. “We’ve been trying to make Apu nuanced, sympathetic and (more than our other characters) admirable for 30 years.”

.@TheSimpsons For those who’d ask why Lisa would defend Apu: he’s her friend. He taught her to be vegan. She admires him.

— Al Jean (@AlJean) April 13, 2018

To me it’s a free speech issue.
I favor open expression of all types to a pretty large degree.

— Al Jean (@AlJean) April 13, 2018

It’s not. We tried bringing in Utkarsh Ambudkar as Apu’s nephew. It was deemed unsatisfactory –there’s no solution I fear that will satisfy.

— Al Jean (@AlJean) April 13, 2018

.@TheSimpsons I truly appreciate all responses pro and con. Will continue to try to find an answer that is popular & more important right

— Al Jean (@AlJean) April 13, 2018

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‘The Simpsons’ Pushes Back at Critics of ‘Politically Incorrect’ Apu (Video)

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“The Simpsons” showrunner Al Jean has answered some of the criticism to the show’s response to “The Problem With Apu” documentary, ultimately promising to contemplate the issue further.

“I truly appreciate all responses pro and con,” Jean wrote in a tweet on Friday after engaging with several of his followers about Sunday’s episode. “[We] will continue to try to find an answer that is popular & more [importantly] right.”

The statement echoes what was said in the episode, set up as a response to comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary criticizing the show for its stereotypical Indian-American character Apu (voiced by Hank Azaria with a thick accent). Titled “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” the episode delves into the issue through the lens of a beloved children’s book that seems racist and offensive from a modern day perspective.

“Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” one character says in the episode. The line is met with the response, “Some things will be dealt with at a later date.”

In a separate tweet, Jean explained the moment to a confused viewer: “There’s no answer that will satisfy.”

Kondabolu’s truTV documentary, “The Problem With Apu,” released in November, studied the effects of what he believed to be negative stereotypes perpetuated by the popular Eastern Indian character. The show’s fans and critics have spent the intervening months waiting to see how “The Simpsons” would answer those criticisms.

“In ‘The Problem with Apu,’ I used Apu & ‘The Simpsons’ as an entry point into a larger conversation about the representation of marginalized groups & why this is important,” Kondabolu wrote on Twitter following the episode. “‘The Simpsons’ response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress.”

Up until Friday, however, Jean continued to defend the episode, saying it “could be unpopular but still be right” and equating the entire debate to a “free speech issue.”

“We tried bringing in Utkarsh Ambudkar as Apu’s nephew. It was deemed unsatisfactory — there’s no solution I fear that will satisfy,” Jean wrote in reply to one fan. “We’ve been trying to make Apu nuanced, sympathetic and (more than our other characters) admirable for 30 years.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

'The Simpsons' Pushes Back at Critics of 'Politically Incorrect' Apu (Video)

'The Big Sick' Director Michael Showalter Signs TV Production Deal With Annapurna

Annapurna, Plan B to Produce Miranda July's Family Heist Movie

‘The Simpsons’ Pushes Back at Critics of ‘Politically Incorrect’ Apu (Video)

“The Simpsons” (finally) acknowledged and addressed documentary “The Problem With Apu” last night. We knew this was coming, but filmmaker Hari Kondabolu isn’t feeling satisfied with the Fox cartoon’s response.

On Sunday’s episode, mom Marge painstakingly edited a bedtime story for Lisa to make it “inoffensive as a Sunday in Cincinnati.” Unfortunately, in doing so, the story has now become pointless, per the middle Simpson kid.

“What am I supposed to do?” an exhausted Marge asks.

“It’s hard to say,” Lisa responds. “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”

Also Read: Hank Azaria: ‘Simpsons’ Producers ‘Will Definitely Address’ Apu Racial Stereotypes Criticism

 

With that last rhetorical line, Lisa glanced at a picture of Apu, which rests on her nightstand. “Don’t have a cow,” the autographed photo reads.

“Some things will be dealt with at a later date,” Marge said.

“If at all,” Lisa added.N

Also Read: ‘The Problem With Apu’ Trailer: Doc Shreds ‘Simpsons’ Most Stereotypical Character (Video)

 

Read Kondabolu’s reaction to the moment below.

Also Read: ‘So It’s Come to This:’ The Story Behind the First ‘Simpsons’ Clip Show

Wow. “Politically Incorrect?” That’s the takeaway from my movie & the discussion it sparked? Man, I really loved this show. This is sad. https://t.co/lYFH5LguEJ

— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) April 9, 2018

In “The Problem with Apu,” I used Apu & The Simpsons as an entry point into a larger conversation about the representation of marginalized groups & why this is important. The Simpsons response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress.

— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) April 9, 2018

Watch the scene via the video above.

“The Simpsons” (finally) acknowledged and addressed documentary “The Problem With Apu” last night. We knew this was coming, but filmmaker Hari Kondabolu isn’t feeling satisfied with the Fox cartoon’s response.

On Sunday’s episode, mom Marge painstakingly edited a bedtime story for Lisa to make it “inoffensive as a Sunday in Cincinnati.” Unfortunately, in doing so, the story has now become pointless, per the middle Simpson kid.

“What am I supposed to do?” an exhausted Marge asks.

“It’s hard to say,” Lisa responds. “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”

 

With that last rhetorical line, Lisa glanced at a picture of Apu, which rests on her nightstand. “Don’t have a cow,” the autographed photo reads.

“Some things will be dealt with at a later date,” Marge said.

“If at all,” Lisa added.N

 

Read Kondabolu’s reaction to the moment below.

Watch the scene via the video above.

‘The Simpsons’ Team Considering How to Handle Apu Backlash, Hank Azaria Says

The voice of the controversial Indian character says the show is definitely taking Hari Kondabolu’s documentary “The Problem With Apu” into consideration.

The Simpsons” team is looking at how to handle longtime Springfield resident Apu Nahasapeemapetilon after a recent wave of criticism of the controversial Indian character. Notably, Hari Kondabolu’s documentary “The Problem With Apu” examined how the character reinforced hurtful cultural stereotypes. But Hank Azaria, who has voiced the character since 1990, has remained quiet publicly about the matter. TMZ recently spoke with Azaria, who said that the documentary was definitely food for thought and could inspire change on the show.

“I think the documentary did make some really interesting points, and gave us a lot at ‘The Simpsons’ to think about and we really are thinking about it,” he said. “Definitely anybody that was hurt or offended by any character or vocal performance is really upsetting that was offensive or hurtful to anybody. I think it’s an important conversation and one definitely worth having. We’re just really thinking about it and it’s a lot to digest.”

Kondabolu recently spoke with IndieWire about why he decided to take the show to task while still being a fan.

“Loving ‘The Simpsons’ is like loving America, right? So there’s certain things about it I disagree with, so I protest,” he said. “It’s like the anthem thing, with [Colin] Kaepernick. I’m not saying this is equivalent to it, but I’m saying it’s that kind of public discussion that we’re having. Is it OK to criticize things we hold sacred? Isn’t that what makes us good Americans, good ‘Simpsons’ fans, thoughtful viewers, thoughtful humans, right? So I think that’s definitely a part of it.”

Watch Azaria speak out about Apu below, via TMZ:

‘The Problem with Apu’: Hari Kondabolu Doesn’t Want to Punish ‘The Simpsons,’ but He’s Looking for a Shift in the System

The comedian talks about his new documentary on controversial “Simpsons” character Apu and the conversation with Hank Azaria that never made it to air.

For a movie meant to start conversations, “The Problem with Apu” follows its own advice and includes plenty of its own. In his search for answers about the origins, impact, and continued inclusion of “The Simpsons” character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Hari Kondabolu gives over much of the runtime of his new truTV documentary to his talks with South Asian performers and professionals about how Apu has affected not just their careers, but their lives.

Kondabolu’s film argues that as a character, Apu isn’t just a vehicle for promoting misguided and harmful stereotypes about South Asian people. For him, it’s a symptom of a system that never had anyone at the table to explain why the Kwik-E-Mart owner might be a caricature that would fundamentally shape understanding of the South Asian-American experience for everyone from playground bullies to well-intentioned businessmen.

This need for an honest evaluation of what Apu might represent, even for fans, is the same force that’s been an unspoken part of many South Asian performers who’ve been saddled with similar flat stereotypical characters. It’s something that particularly bothered Kondabolu after sit-down interviews with actors and comedians like Kal Penn, Aziz Ansari, Aparna Nancherla, and Hasan Minhaj.

“It was frustrating to see how much was put on the actor,” Kondabolu said in a recent interview with IndieWire. “They’re forced to write and they’re forced to fix something because they know their community deserves more. You have to do extra work the other actors don’t do because you’re not just representing yourself.”

One of the standout sequences of “The Problem with Apu” is a segment that first aired on TV five years ago, Kondabolu’s biggest previous public addressing of this issue. On “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell,” Kondabolu talked about the then-debuting “The Mindy Project” airing on the same network that continued to feature Apu in new “Simpsons” episodes. Kondabolu is quick to draw a distinction between drawing attention and calling for shame, a line that can get easily blurred elsewhere.

“At the end of the day, this isn’t supposed to be punitive. It’s supposed to be something that’s reconciliatory. Let’s figure out how we got to where we got and what we can learn from this,” Kondabolu said. “That’s what I feel like is always a good goal with things like this. I don’t need to punish somebody, this isn’t about call-out culture. I’m not calling somebody out, I want to have a discussion with somebody.”

So with a new, fresh forum in this documentary, Kondabolu sought out Apu voice actor Hank Azaria to participate. The ultimate endpoint of that journey is surprising in ways that are hard to avoid spoiling, but Kondabolu explains that he nearly had a different ending.

“We didn’t show this in the film because it was a private conversation but Hank called me, we chatted,” Kondabolu said. “When we were trying to get him, he was very nice, he told us about how much he liked my work, and how he thinks the film is very interesting. And I was a little starstruck because it’s Hank Azaria and I love ‘The Simpsons.’ He seemed hesitant to be in the film because he was worried about the edit. So he said, ‘How about we record it on ‘Fresh Air’ or ‘WTF with Marc Maron’ and find that neutral territory?’ When the full version with context is out there, I can’t screw with context. I can’t edit it in a way where he looks terrible.”

While Kondabolu eventually agreed, he says that Azaria ultimately opted out of the alternate idea.

“I said ‘yes,’ because the film is partly about accountability. It’s about accountability and growth, honesty,” Kondabolu said. “It was in his best interest to do the film because there’s enough stuff he’s said in the past and other archival things that show the history of how [Apu] happened. But him talking about it, you hope that’s firsthand, you hope that it’s honest and truthful and also I think people give you more credit when you have the guts to try. I felt like we had a chance there.”

Kondabolu explains in the film how having this now-pervasive character be a part of a show he loves is a tremendous source of internal conflict. But he explains that the process of wrestling with a troubling element of a beloved institution has become, for many people, a regular part of our changing national dialogue.

“Loving ‘The Simpsons’ is like loving America, right? So there’s certain things about it I disagree with, so I protest. It’s like the anthem thing, with [Colin] Kaepernick. I’m not saying this is equivalent to it, but I’m saying it’s that kind of public discussion that we’re having. Is it OK to criticize things we hold sacred? Isn’t that what makes us good Americans, good ‘Simpsons’ fans, thoughtful viewers, thoughtful humans, right? So I think that’s definitely a part of it,” Kondabolu said.

And as with many other areas of a changing industry structure, he explains that success for one group of people doesn’t have to come at the expense of another.

“Historically, South Asians and other minority groups have never really had a voice and all of a sudden they have a voice and people don’t know what to do with it. They don’t know what to do now that their institutions are being questioned by people who were never allowed to speak for themselves. And I think that’s something that we’re dealing with now,” Kondabolu said. “White people feel like they’re under attack because for the first time there are people of color who’re trying to be on the same standing with them. You’re not under attack, we’re just looking at you eye to eye. We haven’t had that before.”

As he does on Politically Re-Active, the podcast he co-hosts with W. Kamau Bell, Kondabolu talked about how this is an issue that doesn’t merely affect cultural representation. One segment of “The Problem with Apu” shows that “The Simpsons” is far from simply a national staple: The animated series’ 620+ episodes have become a massive international export, too. As a result, characters like Apu can deepen misunderstandings with even bigger implications than who appears on screen.

“Think about what we know of other countries. Not just people, but other countries. It’s whatever we’re told, right? When we think of Iraq, are we thinking about this incredible history of Mesopotamia? No, we think about Saddam Hussein, war, oil. It’s whatever we’re presented with, so I think the same thing is true with images,” Kondabolu said. “I think about post-9/11 a lot. Post-9/11 had a lot of brown people being beaten up by fellow Americans and I thought about why. And I realized, ‘Well, there’s two major images of brown people: One is this harmless cartoon character that’s ridiculous and the other one is of a terrorist.” So when you only have two major images, which side are you going to err on? You’re probably going to err on the side of the terrorist because you’re scared, and that’s a problem when you have limited images. We’re human beings, we think about self-preservation, we think about all of these other things and we forget each other’s humanity. To clarify, I’m not saying ‘The Simpsons’ is responsible for post-9/11 backlash, but there’s something to be said about why images matter.”

Read More:  Asian-American TV Producers Speak Out About Making the Shows They Want, Whether or Not Networks Are on Board

For that same reason, “The Problem with Apu” doesn’t restrict its focus to how the South Asian community is affected by limited representation. In a segment on the lingering effects and efforts to reclaim some of the damage done by minstrelsy in popular American entertainment, Kondabolu enlisted the help of Whoopi Goldberg.

“To me, it’s part of the same legacy. That’s why Whoopi was so important in the film. Talking about the history of minstrelsy and the black community, we also had a lot of images of indigenous people and East Asians. There’s a lot of it. And I think it’s important to know where this comes from,” Kondabolu said. “The black community has had it hardest in so many ways and they still do. I think that it’s important to understand that when we’re moving forward. It is part of a larger legacy of racism and representation in this country, minority representation. That was crucial to me, absolutely necessary.”

So what comes next? Kondabolu is quick to reiterate that one decision won’t magically reinvent the system, but he’s clear that simply saying “I’m sorry” won’t fix any of these problems.

“I mean, apologies are empty, right? Unless they are balanced with some kind of action, something that actually shows a change,” Kondabolu said. “It’s easy to apologize. It’s easy to make a statement. Self-reflection is great, but then self-reflection is about themselves. What about everybody else? What about the folks it’s impacted? That’s the larger discussion.”

“The Problem with Apu” premieres November 19 at 10 p.m. on truTV.

Comedian Hari Kondabolu on Making ‘The Problem With Apu’

On Sunday night, Comedian Hari Kondabolu hosts an one-hour special on TruTV about Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, “The Simpsons’” neighborhood convenience store owner and operator who’s been voiced by Hank Azaria for nearly 30 years. “The Problem with Apu” interviews South Asian-Americans in the media about their experience of growing up with Apu as the only representative of […]

On Sunday night, Comedian Hari Kondabolu hosts an one-hour special on TruTV about Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, “The Simpsons'” neighborhood convenience store owner and operator who’s been voiced by Hank Azaria for nearly 30 years. “The Problem with Apu” interviews South Asian-Americans in the media about their experience of growing up with Apu as the only representative of […]

The Problem With Apu wades into a bigger issue: The evolution of comedy

No one wants to think that the pop culture they love doesn’t love them back, but that’s the situation in which people of color (any marginalized group, really) often find themselves. They’re underrepresented on screen, which makes every appearance significant—and all the more disappointing when their inclusion is…

Read more…

No one wants to think that the pop culture they love doesn’t love them back, but that’s the situation in which people of color (any marginalized group, really) often find themselves. They’re underrepresented on screen, which makes every appearance significant—and all the more disappointing when their inclusion is…

Read more...

‘The Problem With Apu’: Before Aziz and Mindy, ‘The Simpsons’ Character Was TV’s Only South Asian Representation

Hari Kondabolu uncovers the consequences of “walking stereotype” “Simpsons” character Apu in his new documentary.

Through a few decades and 600 episodes of “The Simpsons,” the convenience store owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon has transformed an unfortunate stereotype into the basis for South Asian representation on television. In his new documentary, comedian Hari Kondabolu explores the blatantly racist portrayal that has been so generally accepted for the past 30 years.

In a clip from the upcoming truTV documentary, “The Problem With Apu,” Kondabolu and actor Utkarsh Ambudkar discuss the impact Apu had on them growing up. The consequences derived from Apu are devastating, specifically because there were no positive images of South Asians at the time of his debut to combat his flaws.

Joining Ambudkar in the documentary are Hasan Minhaj, Sakina Jaffrey, and Kal Penn who all share details about how Apu has personally affected them. “There was no Aziz, no Mindy, no Kal,” Ambudkar says about the lack of influential South Asian representation.

It’s fiercely irresponsible to administer a negative racial image in today’s political climate, which is why the continuation of the character is so shocking. Because many people respect “The Simpsons” for its profound influence on comedy as a whole. As a result, unfair representation has forced South Asian actors into adhering to stereotypical roles to secure work, among many other negative consequences.

It remains unclear if Hank Azaria, the white man who voices Apu, will discuss his thoughts on the manner in the documentary. However, there are many clips that feature Azaria performing the voice in public settings.

Check out the exclusive clip below and make sure to weigh in on the conversation by catching “The Problem With Apu” on truTV Sunday, Nov. 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

‘The Problem With Apu’ Trailer: Doc Shreds ‘Simpsons’ Most Stereotypical Character (Video)

A lot of people have a problem with Apu Nahasapeemapetilon — Hari Kondabolu just happens to be the one who made a movie about it.

In the appropriately titled “The Problem With Apu,” the comedian confronts his long-standing “nemesis”: the heavily stereotyped Indian convenience store owner on “The Simpsons.”

Watch the trailer for Kondabolu’s feature-length documentary above, a sneak peek that begins on a conversation with Kal Penn. The “Lone Survivor” star and “Harold and Kumar” alum says he “dislikes” the generally revered Fox animated series solely based on that one character.

Also Read: Amy Sedaris’ truTV Homemaking Series Delivers First Clip, Which Is All About Glue Selection (Video)

The preview also features conversations with Utkarsh Ambudkar (“The Mindy Project”), Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”), Maulik Pancholy (“Star Trek: Discovery”) and Sakina Jaffrey (“House of Cards”), each of whom hail from Indian descent. There are also interviews with “Simpsons” writer and executive producer Dana Gould and the voice of Apu Hank Azaria, who decidedly do not.

Produced by Marobru, Inc. and Avalon Television, “The Problem with Apu” will debut on truTV this fall.

TruTV debuted the trailer Thursday during the Turner network’s Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour time.

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A lot of people have a problem with Apu Nahasapeemapetilon — Hari Kondabolu just happens to be the one who made a movie about it.

In the appropriately titled “The Problem With Apu,” the comedian confronts his long-standing “nemesis”: the heavily stereotyped Indian convenience store owner on “The Simpsons.”

Watch the trailer for Kondabolu’s feature-length documentary above, a sneak peek that begins on a conversation with Kal Penn. The “Lone Survivor” star and “Harold and Kumar” alum says he “dislikes” the generally revered Fox animated series solely based on that one character.

The preview also features conversations with Utkarsh Ambudkar (“The Mindy Project”), Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”), Maulik Pancholy (“Star Trek: Discovery”) and Sakina Jaffrey (“House of Cards”), each of whom hail from Indian descent. There are also interviews with “Simpsons” writer and executive producer Dana Gould and the voice of Apu Hank Azaria, who decidedly do not.

Produced by Marobru, Inc. and Avalon Television, “The Problem with Apu” will debut on truTV this fall.

TruTV debuted the trailer Thursday during the Turner network’s Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour time.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'The Simpsons' Rejected Donald Trump's Request for Guest Spot, Showrunner Says

'The Simpsons' Skewers Trump With Visit from Richard Nixon's Ghost (Video)

'The Simpsons' Skewers Trump's First 100 Days: 'We're 6.8 Percent of the Way Home' (Video)

'The Simpsons' 30th Anniversary: 12 Best. Memes. Ever. (Photos)

12 Times 'The Simpsons' Predicted the Future (Photos)