The Simpsons premiered the first-ever episode with American Sign Language (ASL) and the help of a deaf voice actor.
Titled “The Sound of Bleeding Gums,” the episode saw Lisa Simpson befriend Monk, the deaf son of her saxophonist mentor Bleeding Gums Murphy.
Deaf actor John Autry II starred in the role of Monk, “It’s so incredible,” Autry said of his guest role. “It’s equality and participation that change lives. All of this can have an impact on change for all of us. These are characters with hearing and hearing problems coming together. It’s part of the story.”
Lone author Steele Sosthand explained that the story told in this episode was inspired by her family: “I’m a mixed-race. We grew up in the suburbs, and in our house, you could feel a lot of my father’s black and jazz culture. But when I think of music, I also think of my brother, who was born deaf. When we talked about this Bleeding Gums character in our initial brainstorming, we thought it wouldn’t be great if Lisa discovered all this other side of her life. That led him to have a child, and then we based that character at least a little bit on my brother. And the story was born from there.”
He also revealed that he had gained his brother Eli’s approval for the script, as he also took inspiration from the real-life events of their parents. Eli and other deaf actors, such as Kathy Buckley and Kaylee Arellano, Ian Mayorga, and Hazel Lopez of the non-profit organization No Limits, also contributed to the episode.