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‘The Simpsons’ to feature deaf voice actor and sign language for first time

In the episode Lisa Simpson tracks down the deaf son of her favourite saxophonist, Bleeding Gums Murphy

By Charlotte Krol

Lisa Simpson is seen in 'The Simpsons' episode 'The Sound Of Bleeding Gums'
'The Simpsons' episode 'The Sound Of Bleeding Gums'. (Picture: 20TH TELEVISION)

‘The Simpsons’ will feature a deaf voice actor and American Sign Language (ASL) on the show for the first time in its history.

The long-running cartoon, which premiered in December 1989 and is now in its 33rd season, will feature deaf voice actor John Autry II as Monk in the landmark episode ‘The Sound Of Bleeding Gums’. It airs in the US this Sunday (April 10).

In the episode Lisa Simpson tracks down the deaf son of her favourite saxophonist, Bleeding Gums Murphy, to help him get a cochlear implant. ASL will feature throughout.

Autry spoke to Variety about the move: “It’s so incredible. It’s life-changing equality and participation. 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.”

Loni Steele Sosthand, who wrote the episode, said that it was inspired by her own deaf brother and the jazz music that was played in their household growing up.

“When I think about music, I also think about my brother, who was born deaf,” Sosthand said.

“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.”

The news follows The Weeknd appearing in a recent episode of ‘The Simpsons’. He voiced the character Orion Hughes in an episode of the show’s current season, titled ‘Bart The Cool Kid’.

The episode sees Homer Simpson and the other dads of Springfield fight against a streetwear influencer in town. It also sees ‘Prison Break’ star Michael Rapaport make a guest appearance.

Confirming the news on Twitter last month, The Weeknd quote tweeted a fan account that shared the news, writing that he was “proud of this one”.

Speaking to Variety in 2020, Tesfaye said that a ‘The Simpsons’ feature was on his “bucket list”.

“That would be a dream – and if they’re reading this, I actually have a pretty cool idea if they’re down,” he said.