Showrunner of The Simpsons Al Jean has said that, if they were casting for the series now, they would pick somebody “ethnically correct” to play Springfield shop owner Apu.
Jean will be a familiar name to fans of the show, having held important roles in its production since it started airing back in 1989.
Apu Nahasapeemapetilon has been a regular face on the series since its first season, running the local Kwik-E-Mart store and occasionally featuring in stories with The Simpson family.
The character is of Indian descent, but from 1990 up until very recently, he was voiced by American actor Hank Azaria.
Jean told Radio Times: “If we were casting the character now, we’d cast someone who was ethnically correct to play Apu. The way we always wrote him, though, was as a hardworking, thoughtful family man who was smarter than everyone else in Springfield. The majority of the jokes were about Springfield not appreciating what a gem he is. So we’re proud of him.”
Many people have claimed that Apu is a racial stereotype, most notably comedian Hari Kondabolu in a documentary titled The Problem with Apu.
Following calls for him to stand down from the role, Azaria announced he would no longer be playing Apu as of January 2020, leaving the future of the character in doubt.
The Simpsons will be available to stream on Disney+