'The Simpsons' New Season Is First With No White Actors In Non-White Roles

The Simpsons' new season, which starts on Sunday, September 27 at 8 p.m. E.T / 7 p.m. CT, is a notable season for a number of reasons. For one, it is the first season of the Fox's show's fourth decade after the show celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. However, it is also the first season made after its creator made a major diversity pledge.

In June, The Simpsons team released a statement reading, "Moving forward, The Simpsons will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters," meaning the voice actors behind Carl, Apu, Lou, Bumblebee Man (all Hank Azaria) and Dr. Julius Hibbert (Harry Shearer) will no longer be playing these characters.

Whereas previously The Simpsons team had not revealed whether these characters would be retired or their actors replaced, a few days before the start of Season 32 the show announced a new cast member who would be playing Carl in the Season 32 premiere.

Alex Désert, perhaps best known from Better Things, will be the new voice of Homer's power plant co-worker from the new seasons onwards. The Black actor has an extensive voice acting resume.

the simpsons new carl
'The Simpsons' has cast a Black actor to voice Carl (second right) as part of their pledge to no longer have white actors voice no-white characters. Fox

His biggest role to date is Nick Fury in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but he has previously provided voices for shows like Spider-Man, Mr. Pickles and Doc McStuffins as well as video games Tomb Raider: Underworld, Saints Row: The Third and IV and World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth.

Per Variety, Désert's voice will first be heard as Carl in The Simpsons' Season 32. However, the show has not revealed yet whether he is just playing Carl in this episode or whether he has been hired as the voice of a number of the Black characters formerly voiced by white actors.

The Simpsons still has not revealed what it is doing about Apu, the Fox series' convenience store clerk who many have criticised as personifying many stereotypes about Indians. The character's voice has not been heard on the show since shortly after the release of the documentary The Problem With Apu, comedian Hari Kondabolu's 2017 documentary about the character specifically and the problems with American TV and film's portrayals of southeast Asian people generally.

Earlier in 2020, Apu's one-time voice actor Hank Azaria told the New York Timesthat he would never voice the character again. "Once I realized that that was the way this character was thought of, I just didn't want to participate in it anymore," he said. "It just didn't feel right."

At that time, the show's executive producers released a statement saying, "we respect Hank's journey in regard to Apu. We have granted his wish to no longer voice the character." However, they did not reveal if the role would be recast.

Dr. Hibbert actor Harry Shearer, in contrast, has made comments that seemed to criticise the show's decision to stop white actors playing non-white roles. He told the U.K's Times Radio, "I have a very simple belief about acting. The job of the actor is to play someone who they are not. That's the gig, that's the job description."