Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is a familiar cartoon face to at least two generations of The Simpsons’ viewers. But some believe the South Asian Kwik-E-Mart owner is reinforcing cultural stereotypes that are more hurtful than they are funny. Simpsons creator Matt Groening says that wasn’t the show’s intention, but how much does that matter? It can seem difficult to find the line separating comedy from offensive stereotypes, but is it lazy to think that way? Will Simpsons fans ignore the issues? Or is it time to find a new punch line? 

Sadiya Ansari covers issues of race, representation and stereotyping in popular culture for a number of publications. On today’s episode of The Big Story, Ansari offers a fresh perspective on an aging character. “Comedy that relies on stereotypes just isn’t that smart, to be honest,” says Ansari of Apu. “People aren’t offended for no reason.”

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You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.