We’re as excited as anyone not named Hari Kondabolu for The Problem with Apu, the comedian’s much anticipated documentary on The Simpsons’ iconic convenience store stereotype. And like Hari, we’re critical of Apu, but still fans of the show. It’s okay to be both.
“It’s still my favourite show,” Kondabolu told us earlier this fall. “It still influenced me more than anything on television.”
So why make a documentary putting the show blast? Kondabolu said it’s because he likes the show that he made the doc. “You want it to be better,” he says, adding that the show is “a smart and cutting show, a show that influenced a whole generation of writers and comedians. The expectation should be higher.”
“I remember seeing this interview when I was younger where Hank does the Apu voice, and it was just a shock, like oh my god, it’s a white dude doing a voice in front of a mostly white audience,” explains Kondabolu. “That’s what the cartoon is essentially, we just don’t hear the laughs when we watch the show. When you actually hear the audience laugh when he does the accent, it’s horrifying. There’s a long history of this. This wasn’t a new phenomenon. This is the history of representation in America, like, how do you clown the person with less power for a joke?”
The Problem with Apu premieres tonight.