An upcoming episode of The Simpsons will feature a deaf voice actor and American Sign Language for the first time in its 33-year history.
John Autry II will play a character called Monk in forthcoming episode ‘The Sound Of Bleeding Gums’, due to air this weekend (April 10) in the US, which sees Lisa Simpson track down the deaf son of her saxophone hero Bleeding Gums Murphy to help him get a cochlear implant (per Variety).
Autry has praised the episode, which features passages of ASL conversation, as “life-changing equality and participation,” adding: “This can impact change for all of us. It’s about hard of hearing and hearing characters coming together. It’s a part of history.”
The episode was written by Loni Steele Sosthand, who also spoke about her personal connection to the subject. “When I think about music, I also think about my brother, who was born deaf,” she explained.
“When we were talking about this Bleeding Gums character in our initial brainstorms, we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if Lisa discovers this whole other side of his life?’ That led to him having a son, and then we based that character at least somewhat on my brother. And the story grew from there.”
As previously announced, Abel Tesfaye voice the character Orion Hughes, a child influencer who owns the fictional streetwear brand ‘Slipreme’.
The long-running show also appeared to poke fun at Joe Rogan recently, in which Homer meets a character resembling the podcaster.