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Hank Azaria gave an honest answer about his controversial 'Simpsons' role.

If you're a fan of "The Simpsons," you definitely know — and may even adore — Apu.

The Indian Kwik-E-Mart owner who reliably tells his customers, "Thank you, come again" is a clownish series favorite among many "Simpsons" diehards.

But in recent months, more attention has been paid to "The Problem with Apu" — both in the actual sense and the documentary from comedian Hari Kondabolu, which premiered last year on TruTV.

[rebelmouse-image 19491114 dam="1" original_size="492x326" caption="GIF via "The Simpsons."" expand=1]GIF via "The Simpsons."


Now, Hank Azaria — the actor whose voice has brought Apu (and a host of other "Simpsons" characters) to life onscreen for decades — has spoken out about the controversy that's ensnared his contentious character since the documentary aired.

And, fortunately, he hit all the right notes.  

But hold on! *pumps brakes*

Before you roll your eyes thinking this is just another one of those stories about an actor bowing to the P.C. police, you should at least know that Kondabolu, a New Yorker of Indian descent, has never criticized the show for its lack of political correctness.

The Fox series has long held a special place in his heart and personal history; he simply wanted it to do better.

"I was obsessed with 'The Simpsons' growing up and it has greatly influenced my comedy," Kondabolu said in a statement in September 2017.

"However," he noted, "as my mother proves, you can criticize something you love because you expect more from it."

A month later, in November 2017, Kondabolu explained to the BBC why Apu — who speaks in a caricatured accent and is often defined by the stereotypes associated with his South Asian identity — has been so harmful:

“Apu was the only Indian we had on TV at all so I was happy for any representation as a kid. And of course he's funny, but that doesn't mean this representation is accurate or right or righteous. It gets to the insidiousness of racism, though, because you don't even notice it when it's right in front of you. It becomes so normal that you don't even think about it. It seeps into our language to the point we don't even question it because it seems like it's just been that way forever.”

After months of silence from the series' creators, "The Simpsons" addressed the controversy in an episode that aired in early April 2018 — but totally botched the response. The episode used a conversation between Marge and Lisa as an attempt to illustrate the predicament the show found itself in.

"Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect," Lisa said in the episode, as the camera panned to include a picture of Apu. "What can you do?"

In a series of tweets, Kondabolu reiterated that his criticisms weren't about political correctness, but the problems that result from a lack of proper media representation.

Clearly, "Simpson" critics were not pleased. So finally, on April 24, Azaria addressed the issue as a guest on "The Late Show."

It went much better.

Speaking with Stephen Colbert, Azaria said his "eyes have been opened" to the problem with Apu.

He continued:

"I think the most important thing is that we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people, in this country when they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character, and what their American experience of it has been."

The actor called for more artists of South Asian descent to have a seat at the writers' table for shows like "The Simpsons" so that characters like Apu are shaped by those who've actually lived similar experiences, and noted that he's open to evolving or ending his work on the show, if it's decided that's what's best.

"I'm perfectly willing and happy to step aside or help transition [Apu] into something new," Azaria said. "I really hope that's what 'The Simpsons' does. It not only makes sense, but it just feels like the right thing to do to me."

Like I said: This isn't a story about an actor forced to apologize for being un-P.C. It's a story about an actor understanding exactly how his character exacerbates a bigger cultural problem.

Characters like Apu are not only steeped in harmful, inaccurate stereotypes, but they're often the only depictions of marginalized groups many white Americans see on TV. If "The Simpsons" had featured other prominent South Asian characters in its nearly three decades of fictional storylines, the problem with Apu would be far less scarring to fans like Kondabolu. (He's not calling for Apu to be scrubbed from past episodes, by the way.)

“After a while, you’d watch 'The Simpsons' on a Sunday and you’d get a sense of how you’d be made fun of at school on Monday, based on what Apu did in the latest episode," the comedian told the BBC.

Apu's depiction really did have — and still has — real-world consequences.

Kondabolu, however, saw Azaria's interview with Colbert. And he's happy with how the comedian broached the topic.

Azaria's response to the controversy is an encouraging sign, but the problem with Apu remains.

So, until our TV screens reflect the real world we live in — where marginalized groups are portrayed both frequently and fairly — let's follow Kondabolu's lead and demand better of the shows we love.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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Architectural Digest/Youtube

This house was made with love.

Celebrity home tours are usually a divisive topic. Some find them fun and inspirational. Others find them tacky or out of touch. But this home tour has seemingly brought unanimous joy to all.

“Stranger Things” actor David Harbour and British singer-songwriter Lily Allen, whose Vegas wedding in 2020 came with an Elvis impersonator, gave a tour of their delightfully quirky Brooklyn townhouse for Architectural Digest, and people were absolutely loving it.

For one thing, the house just looks cool. There’s nothing monotone or minimalist about it. No beige to be seen.

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Pop Culture

Buffy Sainte-Marie shares what led to her openly breastfeeding on 'Sesame Street' in 1977

The way she explained to Big Bird what she was doing is still an all-time great example.

"Sesame Street" taught kids about life in addition to letters and numbers.

In 1977, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie did something revolutionary: She fed her baby on Sesame Street.

The Indigenous Canadian-Ameican singer-songwriter wasn't doing anything millions of other mothers hadn't done—she was simply feeding her baby. But the fact that she was breastfeeding him was significant since breastfeeding in the United States hit an all-time low in 1971 and was just starting to make a comeback. The fact that she did it openly on a children's television program was even more notable, since "What if children see?" has been a key pearl clutch for people who criticize breastfeeding in public.

But the most remarkable thing about the "Sesame Street" segment was the lovely interchange between Big Bird and Sainte-Marie when he asked her what she was doing.

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Health

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to run their YouthLine teen crisis hotline

“Each volunteer gets more than 60 hours of training, and master’s level supervisors are constantly on standby in the room.”

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to man YouthLine teen crisis hotline

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Mental health is a top-of-mind issue for a lot of people. Thanks to social media and people being more open about their struggles, the stigma surrounding seeking mental health treatment appears to be diminishing. But after the social and emotional interruption of teens due the pandemic, the mental health crises among adolescents seem to have jumped to record numbers.

PBS reports that Oregon is "ranked as the worst state for youth mental illness and access to care." But they're attempting to do something about it with a program that trains teenagers to answer crisis calls from other teens. They aren't alone though, as there's a master's level supervisor at the ready to jump in if the call requires a mental health professional.

The calls coming into the Oregon YouthLine can vary drastically, anywhere from relationship problems to family struggles, all the way to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Teens manning the phones are provided with 60 hours of training and are taught to recognize when the call needs to be taken over by the adult supervisor.

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Family

Mom shares her brutal experience with 'hyperemesis gravidarum' and other moms can relate

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe case of morning sickness that can last up until the baby is born and might require medical attention.

@emilyboazman/TikTok

Hyperemesis gravidarum isn't as common as regular morning sickness, but it's much more severe.

Morning sickness is one of the most commonly known and most joked about pregnancy symptoms, second only to peculiar food cravings. While unpleasant, it can often be alleviated to a certain extent with plain foods, plenty of fluids, maybe some ginger—your typical nausea remedies. And usually, it clears up on its own by the 20-week mark. Usually.

But sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes moms experience stomach sickness and vomiting, right up until the baby is born, on a much more severe level.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), isn’t as widely talked about as regular morning sickness, but those who go through it are likely to never forget it. Persistent, extreme nausea and vomiting lead to other symptoms like dehydration, fainting, low blood pressure and even jaundice, to name a few.

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The cast of TLC's "Sister Wives."

Dating is hard for just about anyone. But it gets harder as people age because the dating pool shrinks and older people are more selective. Plus, changes in dating trends, online etiquette and fashion can complicate things as well.

“Sister Wives” star Christine Brown is back in the dating pool after ending her “spiritual union” with polygamist Kody Brown and she needs a little help to get back in the swing of things. Christine and Kody were together for more than 25 years and she shared him with three other women, Janelle, Meri and Robyn.

Janelle and Meri have recently announced they’ve separated from Kody. Christine publicly admitted that things were over with Kody in November 2021.

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