Contrary to previous reports, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is not being written off The Simpsons. The character, who has been on the animated series since episode eight (of 662), is Springfield’s second most talked-about resident — after Gabbo — because, as comedian and The Problem with Apu filmmaker Hari Kondabolu put it, he’s voiced by “a white guy [Hank Azaria] doing an impression of a white guy making fun of my father.” The Simpsons responded to the controversy with a regrettable in-show comment, and then came word from producer Adi Shankar (who is not affiliated with the show) that “they aren’t going to make a big deal out of it or anything like that, but they’ll drop him.”
When asked by a young fan [at D23] whether Apu would remain on the show — following reports that the character had been written out of the show — Groening said, “Yes. We love Apu. We’re proud of Apu.” The issue of Apu was the centerpiece of the documentary The Problem with Apu, in which comedian Hari Kondabolu interviewed celebrities of South Asian descent about the negative impact that the character has had on them. Executive producer Al Jean previously said that he had watched the documentary and that it had been discussed in the writers’ room.
Groening previously dismissed Kondabolu’s documentary by saying that “we don’t want to be totally politically correct,” and “people love to pretend they’re offended.” The Simpsons returns for season 31 on September 29.