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.

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.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.