The Simpsons character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon faced racial backlash. Picture: Supplied
The Simpsons character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon faced racial backlash. Picture: Supplied

‘Thank you, come again’: Apu to stage return

THE Simpsons fans were devastated when much-loved character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon was axed from the show last year.

But the Kwik-E-Mart owner could be poised to make a triumphant return - albeit, with some significant changes.

The news emerged in a new interview with showrunner with Al Jean, where The Daily Beastreported he was "very sorry" for "anyone who was bullied because of Apu".

He added the character was "a work in progress", a remark at odds with claims last year that Apu had been quietly phased out.

There were rumours Apu had been axed from The Simpsons last year. Picture: AP
There were rumours Apu had been axed from The Simpsons last year. Picture: AP

Controversy began to shroud the character - who debuted on the show in 1990 - following the 2017 release of comedian Hari Kondabolou documentary The Problem with Apu.

Kondabolou claimed the Apu and his thick Indian accent was based on hurtful stereotypes.

In the new interview, Jean addressed the concerns, saying: "I apologise for anyone who was bullied because of Apu. I hate bullies. I was bullied, and if you're a bully I'll kick your a**, so certainly that was wrong.

"But as a writer, I always wanted to make Apu an original character - more noble, more hardworking, and more intelligent than the average Simpsons character.

The Simpsons showrunner Al Jean said Apu was “a work in progress”. Picture: Supplied
The Simpsons showrunner Al Jean said Apu was “a work in progress”. Picture: Supplied

"When we were doing Episode 4, there was a big joke that Reverend Lovejoy didn't even know what religion he was, and Apu was just being this wonderful volunteer fireman, and there was an article in the Guardian recently by a South Asian writer who said that moment made him feel really proud.

"So I think there are a lot of things about Apu that have made South Asians very proud, and it's a very complicated issue. But no one should be bullied because of him, and I'm very sorry about that."

Jean also addressed Michael Jackson voicing the character of Leon Kompowsky. Picture: Supplied
Jean also addressed Michael Jackson voicing the character of Leon Kompowsky. Picture: Supplied

Jean's comments pour cold water on producer Adi Shankar's remark's last year that Apu would no longer be part of the show.

"I've verified from multiple sources now: They're going to drop the Apu character altogether,"

producer Adi Shankar told IndiWire.

"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 said.

Jean went some way in disputing the claims, which came to light at the end of a contest Shankar ran which asked the public for scripts on how to reform, or phase out the "problematic" character.

"Adi Shankar is not a producer on the Simpsons. I wish him the very best but he does not speak for our show," Jean tweeted.

In the interview with The Daily Beast, Jean also explained his decision to axe the episode Stark Raving Dad, which featured a voice cameo from Michael Jackson, saying it was an "appropriate" course of action.

"I think it was part of what he used to groom boys," Jean said of Jackson. "I really don't know, and I should be very careful because this is not something I know personally, but as far as what I think, that's what I think. And that makes me very, very sad," he said.


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