“The Simpsons” has never been a show to shy away from controversy. They’ve gone after everyone from presidents to celebrities to their own broadcaster, FOX. But a casting decision to celebrate their 500th episode may be their most shocking move yet.
The animated comedy has cast WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to play himself in the Feb. 19 show, EW.com is reporting. In the episode, Homer and Marge find out that after 499 episodes, Springfield residents are getting sick of them and are looking to throw them out of town. Because of this “the Simpsons go off the grid to this very rugged place where they meet [Assange], who’s sort of their new Flanders,” EP Al Jean says. As for whether Assange will act like Flanders, don’t count on it. Jean adds, “The similarities end there…He invites them over for a home movie and it’s an Afghan wedding being bombed.”
Assange is quite the polarizing figure. As the head of WikiLeaks, Assange has released thousands of American diplomatic cables (many of which were classified as “Confidential” or “Secret”) as well as classified documents related to the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Vice President Joe Biden called Assange a “high-tech terrorist.” He is currently facing sexual assault charges and is out on bail.
Jean acknowledges and embraces the buzz, saying, “He’s a controversial figure, and there’s a good reason he’s controversial…There was discussion internally whether or not to have him on the show, but ultimately we went ahead and did it.” He adds that “there’s nothing we did that has anything to do with the legal situation that he’s in…We wanted to make sure it was satirical, and he was willing to do that.”
So what do you think of this casting move?