For the first time on Sunday, “The Simpsons” will feature a deaf actor in its 722-episode run.
The new episode, “The Sound of Bleeding Gums,” focuses on Lisa Simpson, who discovers that her favorite musician and hero, the late saxophonist Bleeding Gums Murphy, has a son who is deaf.
Bleeding Gums died in the Season Six episode “Round Springfield” in 1995. John Autry II will give the voice to Monk.
CNN reported: that Sunday’s episode’s storyline was spearheaded by show writer Loni Steele Sosthand, whose brother, Eli Steele, is deaf.
Although all humans have only four fingers to a hand in the “Simpsons” world, they will use American Sign Language in the episode.
Southland told CNN that producers conferred with two ASL specialists about the signs the characters would use. The specialists looked at early versions of the episode’s visuals to make sure the four-fingered signing would still be intelligible.
“That was a little tricky, especially because the one thing we’re translating is Shakespeare,” Sosthand told Variety. “But I think we pulled it off.”
The groundbreaking episode comes two weeks after “CODA” won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. CODA stands for “Child of Deaf Adults,” and Sian Heder wrote an directed the film, which is about a teenage girl navigating life while growing up as the only hearing member of her family.
“Simpsons” executive producer Al Jean noted on Twitter Thursday that the episode airing so soon after “CODA’s” win is just a coincidence.