The Simpsons showrunner Al Jean took to Twitter on Friday to engage with fans on both sides of the show's Apu controversy.
The animated convenience store clerk, voiced by Hank Azaria, has come under fire recently for perpetuating a stereotype for South Asian immigrants. Backlash against Apu kicked into high gear following Hari Kondabolu's 2017 documentary The Problem with Apu which critiqued the depiction of the Indian-American Kwik-E-Mart owner.
The Simpsons finally responded to the controversy in Sunday's (April 8) episode when Lisa explained to Marge why the book she was reading to her daughter didn't hold up in 2018. When Marge asked what she could do about it, Lisa looked fondly at a picture of Apu, which was signed, "Don't have a cow," and said, "Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?"
Many fans, including Kondabolu, tweeted after the episode that the response to the Apu criticism was insensitive and misinformed. Jean promised in his tweets on Friday to find a better answer to the issue.
.@TheSimpsons I truly appreciate all responses pro and con. Will continue to try to find an answer that is popular & more important right— Al Jean (@AlJean) April 13, 2018
"I truly appreciate all responses pro and con," Jean wrote. "Will continue to try to find an answer that is popular & more important right."
Previous to that tweet, Jean also defended Lisa standing up for Apu and explained the eternal 8-year old's reasoning for doing so.
.@TheSimpsons For those who'd ask why Lisa would defend Apu: he's her friend. He taught her to be vegan. She admires him.— Al Jean (@AlJean) April 13, 2018
Time will tell if the animated show can strike a balance between being respectful to its South Asian audience and honoring a character that has been such an important part of the iconic franchise.
The Simpsons airs Sundays at 8/7c on Fox.