The Simpsons creator Matt Groening weighed in on the controversial past and uncertain future of Apu, calling him “one of the most nuanced characters” on the show. The longest-running scripted primetime television series in American history, The Simpsons recently aired its 700th episode. With the show’s popularity comes scrutiny. In 2017, Indian-American comedian Hari Kondabolu wrote and starred in the documentary The Problem with Apu, examining the implications of the (in his opinion) largely stereotypical Indian-American character on the show Apu. The character is the owner of a convenience store with an exaggerated accent. He was also the only character of Indian descent to appear on American television for many years. In 2020 voice actor Hank Azaria took it upon himself to step down from voicing Apu.
Speaking to USA Today in the wake of The Simpsons airing its 700th episode, creator Matt Groening affirmed that he’s “proud of Apu” and discussed future plans for the character.
I think the Apu stories are fantastic, and he’s one of the most nuanced characters on a silly two-dimensional cartoon show. So, yeah, I’m proud of Apu. I’m trying not to open up another chasm of criticism, but it doesn’t matter what I say. I’ll get it anyway.