The Simpsons did it, but this time, it definitely wasn’t the first. Joining numerous animated series reversing course this week on hiring white actors to voice Black characters, including Big Mouth, Central Park, and Family Guy, the long-running Fox animated series announced on Friday that it, too, would replace white voice actors currently voicing Simpsons’ characters of color, presumably including long-time Springfield residents like Dr. Hibbert, Carl Carlson, and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.
According to a statement from Lee Eisner, Fox’s senior VP of corporate communications, “Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters.” In 2017, comedian Hari Kondabolu premiered his documentary The Problem With Apu, which criticized the show’s use of stereotypes about South Asian people and the use of a white voice actor, namely Hank Azaria, to bring Apu, the Indian owner of Spingfield’s Kwik-E-Mart, to life.
Simpsons creator Matt Groening rebuffed Kondabolu’s argument following the release of the documentary on truTV, but in February, Azaria said he would no longer voice Apu going forward. “Once I realized that that was the way this character was thought of, I just didn’t want to participate in it anymore,” Azaria told the New York Times. “It just didn’t feel right.”