Ever since the 2017 documentary, The Problem with Apu, The Simpsons star Hank Azaria had a change of heart when it came to the character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon vowing never to play the role ever again. Appearing on the Armchair Expert podcast hosted by Dax Shepard and Monica Padman, the voice actor opened up about his soul-searching journey about understanding the pain he felt he caused from the cultural stereotypes those offended by the character endured.
"I was speaking at my son's school, I was talking to the Indian kids there because I wanted to get their input," Azaria said. "A 17-year-old … he's never even seen The Simpsons but knows what Apu means. It's practically a slur at this point. All he knows is that is how his people are thought of and represented to many people in this country…I really do apologize. It's important. I apologize for my part in creating that and participating in that. Part of me feels like I need to go to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize. And sometimes I do." In The Problem with Apu, comedian Hari Kondabolu spoke with Indian-Americans across the entertainment industry on how they were personally affected growing up with the stereotypes a character like Apu perpetuated. As much as The Simpsons addressed the issue of breaking the fourth wall calling the controversy a "politically correct" issue in an episode, the problem ultimately lies within the creators themselves.
While the series now vow to not have white actors voice ethnic roles, let's break down the diversity. There are numerous African-American characters in the series. There are more than 10 characters of Latin descent including Marge Simpson. There are also multiple East Asians on the series, but only one Indian family? As much as Azaria's just doing his job, the blame ultimately lies in the apathy of The Simpsons' EPs and showrunners for letting it get this way in this very teachable moment.