It looks like the Kwik-E-Mart will soon open back up on The Simpsons, as series creator Matt Groening has confirmed the series isn't done with Apu after all. As fans of the show will know, the popular character's fate was left uncertain as a result of the issues surrounding the use of Apu on the series. Because of concerns that the character was now considered by some to be too offensive for television, the convenience store clerk has been kept out of the show's storylines since the controversy. However, when asked at the D23 Expo if Apu was officially going to remain on the series, Groening had this to say.
"Yes. We love Apu. We're proud of Apu."
The Apu controversy began in 2017 with the release of Indian-American comedian Hari Kondabolu's documentary The Problem with Apu. Its narrative highlights the troublesome nature of Apu's stereotypical character, criticizing The Simpsons for using the character as a poor representation of Indian-Americans. The Simpsons team responded by directly acknowledging the controversy on the series, suggesting they needed to evaluate how to use the character going forward. "Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?" Lisa asks in a Season 29 episode. To that, Marge replies: "Some things will be addressed at a later date."
While Kondabolu has some supporters who agree that Apu has got to go, many fans of The Simpsons have been steadfastly defending Apu with the hopes of saving the beloved character. Indeed, Apu is definitely a stereotype, but the same can also be said for every other character on the show; removing one would have to open the door to removing them all. Defenders have also pointed out how Apu is in fact one of the most well-respected and appreciated members of the Springfield community. He's a highly-intelligent and devoted husband and father, a volunteer fireman, and a successful business owner who everyone in town loves, whereas most everyone else on the series is a bit of a buffoon.
Voice actor Hank Azaria, who provides the voice of Apu, had said he was willing to step away from the character as he only meant for the portrayal to be funny. It was later reported The Simpsons would be axing the character because of the controversy, seemingly putting an end to Apu's three-decade run on the show. However, producer Al Jean later debunked the report, stating they had not made that decision while stopping short of clarifying what exactly they were going to do with Apu. Now, their support for the Kwik-E-Mart clerk is much more clear and it's just a matter of time before we see the character's return.
As it now appears The Simpsons is more clear about the show's intent to continue using Apu moving forward, chances are we'll finally be seeing him back on the show soon. You can catch Season 31 of the series when it premieres on Fox on Sept. 29. This news comes to us from Variety.