Al Jean, Live Feed, Television, The Simpsons, THR Online

‘The Simpsons’ Showrunner Addresses Apu Controversy, Vows to Find “Right” Answer

“I truly appreciate all responses pro and con,” Al Jean says of the hot-button issue.

Al Jean on Friday thanked Simpsons fans for all their feedback — negative and positive — over the recent episode that addressed the controversy around one of the show’s most recognizable and oldest characters, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.

“I truly appreciate all responses pro and con. Will continue to try to find an answer that is popular & more important right,” The Simpsons showrunner said via Twitter. 

Both Jean and the show were criticized for the recent episode, “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” in which the Fox series addressed the outcry over the stereotypical portrayal of Springfield’s Kwik-E-Mart owner, voiced by Hank Azaria.

In the episode, Marge Simpson reads a book to daughter Lisa that has been changed from its original version to something not so controversial.

“Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?,” says Lisa. The show then panned to a picture of Apu.

While some viewers were fine with the response (before the show aired, Jean tweeted, “New Simpsons in five minutes. Twitter explosion in act three,” and he retweeted numerous positive takes right afterward), there were those who felt like the moment was a slap in the face.

Comedian Hari Kondabolu, who last year released the documentary The Problem With Apu, was among those displeased with how the show handled it. 

“Wow. ‘Politically Incorrect?’ That’s the takeaway from my movie & the discussion it sparked? Man, I really loved this show. This is sad,” Kondabolu tweeted. “In ‘The Problem with Apu,’ I used Apu & The Simpsons as an entry point into a larger conversation about the representation of marginalized groups & why this is important. The Simpsons response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress.”

Jean was also criticized after the episode aired for tweets that appeared to many fans as flippant. “Can’t wait to see what’s on my twitter account today!” he wrote in one instance. 

Jean declined all interview requests after the show aired, saying that producers preferred to let the episode “speak for itself.”

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