Last Sunday’s episode of The Simpsons addressed controversy over the character of Apu (voiced by the very not-Indian Hank Azaria) in a scene which is, if anything, only intensifying criticism that the character is an insensitive caricature. A scene featuring Marge reading a bedtime story to Lisa leads to Lisa directly addressing the TV audience to say, “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” before panning to a framed photo of Apu with the inscription “Don’t have a cow!”
Unsurprisingly, the response did little to placate Hari Kondabolu, the comedian who produced the documentary The Trouble with Apu that spent much of its running time trying to explain that the character was not entirely or universally applauded or inoffensive even decades ago (describing Apu in the documentary as “A white guy doing an impression of a white guy making fun of my father” after learning that Hank Azaria modeled Apu’s accent after Peter Sellers’ imitation of an Indian man in the movie The Party). Other public comment decried using Lisa, the character who is most often used as the show’s moral center, to jab at the criticisms of Apu. Showrunner Al Jean continued to insist on Twitter that the criticism of Apu was a “non-issue” (because a white guy saying so must make it so, especially when it comes to matters of race in America) and re-tweeted several messages decrying political correctness. Representatives for Fox declined to comment to news outlets about the episode.