Fox has finally addressed The Simpsons Apu controversy and they don't really have a whole lot to say about the matter. Fox chairman and CEO Dana Walden was asked about the situation and basically said that they're letting the show sort it out themselves. Walden also commented on the future of the hit show and said that it won't be coming to an end any time soon, even though it's pretty costly to make. The Simpsons is preparing to launch into their 30th season and continue to be the longest running scripted primetime series in television history.
While speaking at the Television Critics Association press tour, Dana Walden was asked about the Apu controversy surrounding The Simpsons. Walden said that they had spoken to the team and that they're leaving it up to the creative team behind the show. Walden went on to say that the show creators know what's best when it comes down to it. She had this to say.
"We have had the conversation with (executive producer) Jim Brooks and his team and we've basically left it up to them. They've treated the characters with so much respect. We trust them to handle it in a way that will be best for the show... ultimately we decided that would be their decision."
The controversy surrounding The Simpsons character Apu came to a head last fall when comedian and filmmaker Hari Kondabolu made the documentary The Problem with Apu, which told the story of the Indian convenience store owner becoming the most well-known character from South Asia in the world at one point in time. In addition, the documentary addresses negative stereotypes, racial microaggressions, and slurs against people of Indian and South Asian heritage disseminated through the character.
The Simpsons addressed the Apu issue last season, but faced backlash after the episode. In the show, Lisa and Marge were debating about an old book, which has stories that are no longer deemed politically correct. Nothing is really resolved and it basically ends with Lisa saying, "what can you do?" Well, that answer was not what fans of the hit show were wanting to hear. Dana Walden admits that they were not surprised by the negative reaction. She explains.
"In a day of social media where fans are able to have a public forum, I can't say ultimately we were surprised. I think it's good information for the creators to receive ... they focused on the reaction and I think that's partially informing how they will move forward."
Apu voice actor Hank Azaria recently addressed the controversy, stating that he would have no problem leaving the character behind in the future of The Simpsons. It's Azaria's hope that the show will figure out a way to have the show progress by bringing in consultants who can help inform the way that the Apu character should be portrayed. The actor says that he's totally fine stepping aside to let the transition happen. The Simpsons returns to Fox on September 30th. You can read more about the Apu controversy at Entertainment Weekly.