The Sound of Bleeding Gums
| "The Sound of Bleeding Gums"
| Episode Information
"The Sound of Bleeding Gums" is the seventeenth episode of season 33 of The Simpsons and the seven-hundred and twenty-third episode overall. It originally aired on April 10, 2022. The episode was written by Loni Steele Sosthand and directed by Chris Clements. It guest stars John Autry II as Monk Murphy and Kathy Buckley as the deaf girl.
Lisa is listening to jazz music on her phone while Marge and Bart are watching TV, when a commercial for the Springfield Lottery comes on, reusing the song by Bleeding Gums Murphy "Can't Face Tomorrow" with new lyrics. She goes on a rant against the lottery and how Murphy wouldn't have approved of it and showing her webpage on him and a bust of his embouchure. Afterwards she goes to The Jazz Hole, after passing through countless people singing the lottery song. There, she finds out that all the musicians participated on the lottery, increasing the lost cause vibe.
After asking for Homer's advice, where he advises to avoid losing time on the lost causes, she goes on Channel 6's Smartline to a debate against the lottery, however after getting all the questions right, she stumbles on the knowledge he has a son. Soon, she finds him, Monk Murphy, at his house and after a while she discovers he was born deaf. He tried asking for the doctor's advice on how to solve the issue, but the cost of the operation was too high, so Lisa sets herself up to win against the lottery for him.
She brings Monk to The Jazz Hole, and find out that his publisher was Treasured Artists Publishing. They go to the Springfield Brill Building to find out who's selling his dad's music but finds out he got scammed by them on signing his contract, and they sold the rights to big companies and at that point, Monk asks Lisa to leave him alone. Feeling the sadness, she sneaks out of the house to the Bleeding Gums Murphy Memorial Bridge, where his ghost appears and makes her realize that what the blues is all about.
Lisa goes to The Sky's the Limit center where Monk works and is directing a production of Richard III, to apologize for her actions, and he mentions getting the implant thanks to winning the money at the lottery. At the bridge, Lisa has him hear as the first thing his dad's vinyl but Bart scratched it so she plays "Monk's New Tune", played by Bleeding Gums Murphy. In the end she dreams of playing "Happy Talk" with the other musicians at The Jazz Hole with Bleeding Gums playing with them, and makes Bart disappear once he protests for their seats.
The title of the episode was changed after the table read, it was called "Bleeding Gums Murphy in the Sound of Music".
For the first time the show stars deaf and hearing-impaired voiceover actors. The Monk character is played by actor John Autry II, who is hearing impaired. The episode features a total of six deaf voice actors, also including comedian Kathy Buckley and three kids from the No Limits organization: Kaylee Arellano, Ian Mayorga and Hazel Lopez.
The episode is inspired by the family of episode writer Loni Steele Sosthand. She has a brother, Eli Steele, who was born deaf. When they were talking about Bleeding Gums Murphy character in writer's initial brainstorms, the staff 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 Eli.
Sosthand and her brother, Eli Steele, had previously developed a pilot based on their lives, featuring John Autry II. So when it came time to find someone to play Monk, Sosthand pitched Autry to exec producers James L. Brooks and Al Jean, who "very much got on board and saw what a gem he was". The character has little personal moments from Loni and Eli's childhood but is also very much influenced by John.
Autry lauded "The Simpsons" for hiring a deaf actor to play the role. "It's so incredible," he said of the gig. "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."
Sosthand also sought her brother's approval while writing the script, which includes a scene where Bleeding Gums discovers his son his deaf — patterned after how Sosthand's parents discovered Eli was hearing impaired. Eli also voices a part in the episode.
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