The Simpsons this Sunday alluded to The Problem With Apu — and the maker of that November 2017 documentary didn’t care for the Fox comedy’s dilution of his message.
In the episode “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” Marge reads to Lisa her self-edited, inoffensive version of a book called The Princess in the Garden, which in its original form was rife with antiquated stereotypes and mores. When Lisa carps about the main character’s now-lost emotional journey, Marge asks, “What am I supposed to do?”
“It’s hard to say…,” Lisa answered. “Something that started out decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect.” Turning to a framed photo of Kwik-E-Mart proprietor Apu on her nightstand, Lisa added: “What can you do?”
“Some things will be dealt with at a later date,” Marge suggested, as the ladies looked at the proverbial camera. “If at all,” Lisa added. (Watch the scene below.)
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Getting wind of the barely veiled reference to his documentary (which we will note is on iTunes), Hari Kondabolu exclaimed on Twitter, “Wow. ‘Politically Incorrect?’ That’s the takeaway from my movie and the discussion it sparked? … This is sad.”
Noting that The Simpsons’ Apu, who as mainstream TV’s first regular South Asian character, was merely his film’s springboard for a larger conversation about stereotypes and misperceptions that have only started to abate, Kondabolu added, “The Simpsons response … is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress.”