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‘The Simpsons’ shrug “What Can You Do?” to ‘The Problem with Apu’ (watch)


Last year, Hari Kondabolu‘s documentary The Problem With Apu looked at South Asian stereotypes in popular culture, using The Simpsons’ character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon (voiced by white actor Hank Azaria) as a starting point. Azaria declined to be interviewed for the documentary but did later say it “made some really interesting points and gave us a lot to think about and we really are thinking about it.”

On Sunday night’s episode, The Simpsons responded to the documentary — at least vaguely (and dismissively). In a subplot that involved Marge rediscovering a book she had loved as a child but now realizes is culturally offensive, she asks. “Well, what am I supposed to do?” Lisa replies, “It’s hard to say. Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect,” then adding, “What can you do?” as the camera pulls back to reveal a picture of Apu on Lisa’s nightstand, signed “Don’t have a cow.” Marge then adds “Some things will be dealt with at a later date,” with Lisa finally saying “If at all.” You can watch the clip here:

Hari Kondabolu responded, saying “The Simpsons response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress.”

W. Kamau Bell, whose Comedy Central series was where the idea for Kondabolu’s documentary originated, tweeted:

Here are a few more Twitter reactions, including ones from Geoff Rickly:

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