While much has been made about Hank Azaria stepping down from playing Indian American character Apu on The Simpsons, the versatile actor will no longer voice another character from the animated show, and a gay actor has taken his place.
Starting with an episode that aired last last month, actor Tony Rodriguez now voices Julio, a gay friend of Homer’s and a fellow resident of Springfield.
Much as the documentary The Problem with Apu shed light on the negative impact Azaria’s characterization of the character has had on Indian Americans, the supercut exhaustively compiled every gay joke made in the 31-year history of the Emmy-winning series — and like many things viewed through a more modern lens, some of the lines are cringe-worthy.
The Apu flap led the long-running series to declare it will no longer employ white actors to voice non-white characters, breaking with the tradition of Azaria and Harry Shearer voicing show characters of every color. Azaria has since apologized for his part in the Apu controversy.
For his part, Shearer told the U.K.’s Sunday Times he didn’t agree with no longer playing Dr. Julius Hibbert or other characters of color. “I think there’s a conflation between representation,” he insisted. “People from all backgrounds should be represented in the writing and producing…so they help decide what stories to tell and with what knowledge…The job of the actor is to play someone who they’re not.”
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