Kal Penn explains his hatred of The Simpsons and Hari discovers he wasn’t the only brown person bullied because of Apu.
Turner’s truTV today announced the premiere date for its highly-anticipated comedic documentary The Problem with Apu as Sunday, November 19 at 10PM ET/PT. In the hour-long film, creator and star Hari Kondabolu, a South Asian-American comedian, confronts his long-standing “nemesis” Apu Nahasapeemapetilon – better known as the Indian convenience store owner on The Simpsons. Kondabolu discusses how this controversial caricature was created, burrowed its way into the hearts and minds of Americans, and continues to exist – intact – nearly three decades later.
In this highly-personal, insightful and timely exploration of minority media representation, Kondabolu speaks with prominent South Asian actors about the damaging legacy of Apu – an animated character voiced by a white actor with a heavily exaggerated, stereotypical Indian accent. Aziz Ansari, Kal Penn, Aasif Mandvi, Hasan Minjaj, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Aparna Nancherla, Russell Peters, Sakina Jaffrey and Maulik Pancholy share poignant stories about their own experiences with Apu and the broader questions about the comedy and representation he evokes. With additional interviews with EGOT-winner Whoopi Goldberg, W. Kamau Bell, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Mallika Rao, and many more, The Problem with Apu takes a humorous look at how even a beloved television series can have a blind spot.
“I was obsessed with The Simpsons growing up and it has greatly influenced my comedy. However, as my mother proves, you can criticize something you love because you expect more from it,” said Kondabolu. “For the longest time, Apu was the most prominent representation of South Asian Americans – and despite how much our society has changed in the last three decades – the character persists today. I made this film to not only talk about the origin of Apu and highlight the impact of such images in media, but also to celebrate the diversity and complexity of my community.”
Hailed as “one of the most exciting political comics in stand-up today” by The New York Times, Brooklyn-based comedian Kondaboluis the host of the popular podcast “Politically Re-Active” alongside W. Kamau Bell.
The Problem with Apu is executive produced by Kondabolu, Marobru, Inc.’s Michele Armour and Avalon Television’s Isaac Horne, David Martin, Richard Allen-Turner and Jon Thoday. Michael Melamedoff serves as director. The film will be made available on all platforms following its linear premiere on November 19.