The Simpsons showrunner Al Jean delivered a response to the continuing Apu controversy on Twitter to kick off this weekend. While the show seemed to finally address the controversy one week ago, Jean’s comment seems to indicate that the show isn’t finished addressing the issue.
The way the show decided to tackle the issue didn’t please everybody, drawing more criticism for missing the point of the discussion or sidestepping the actual issue by labeling it “political correctness.” It also gained supporters, as we saw with Bill Maher on Friday night during his “New Rules” segment. For Jean, he seems to be opening his ears to listen and this hints that the show’s initial response won’t be the last one:
Will continue to try to find an answer that is popular and more important right
Jean continued to respond in the thread to fans who were reaching out but didn’t drop any other hints about the show’s future with the character — he did mention that we will find out something about Bart’s new teacher, though.
The showrunner also shared a link to a column by Andrew Sullivan defending The Simpsons and how they handled the issue and stereotypes across its long history. Sullivan does end up working in a reference to The Atlantic / Kevin Williamson saga, but he joins Maher in applauding the show standing its ground against criticism and singled out the focus on Lisa Simpson during the scene in question:
The one objection to the scene that had a point, it seems to me, is that Lisa is the wrong character to say this. By 2018, surely her do-goody, NPR-listening, 1998, liberal egghead persona would have morphed into a permanently aggrieved racial activist, intent on removing every lamentable obstacle on the march toward boundless diversity. But maybe Lisa, I like to think, is too smart for that (as are many liberals in private). Maybe she’s precisely the right person to push back against the left’s latest attempt to police and stymie artists and writers.
Jean adds that the article doesn’t mean the show is right, but maybe is there to show that the debate has multiple sides. Still, you have to feel that the response made things worse than anything the show had done with Apu. If anything, The Simpsons will have plenty of chances to deal with it through the end of this season and the next.