There have been a lot of TV crossover episodes over the years, but this may be the most unique one yet: PBS’ “Finding Your Roots” and host Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. will make a major appearance on Fox’s “The Simpsons” this Sunday. Variety has an exclusive first look at Gates’ appearance; scroll down for more.
Gates is a major guest star on “The Simpsons” episode that airs Sunday, Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. ET. The episode, “Carl Carlsen Rides Again,” centers on Homer Simpson’s colleague at the nuclear power plant (and Lenny’s best friend) Carl, who delves into his racial identity for the first time. On the episode, Carl discovers his background by going on “Finding Your Roots.”
Loni Steele Sosthand wrote the episode; here’s the logline: “When Carl is smitten by a beautiful black woman, her strong ties to her heritage ignite insecurities in him. He’s going to blow it with her if he doesn’t finally look more deeply into his roots, starting with the unlikeliest of clues to his black identity: a mysterious rodeo buckle.”
Sosthand noted the timeliness of the episode, as “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan is now filming “Bass Reeves,” starring David Oyelowo as the historic Black cowboy. (He’s mentioned in this episode.)
“I mention that because stories about black cowboys are finally getting some overdue attention in Hollywood,” Sosthand said. “We, I hope, are on the forefront,” she quipped. Sosthand also said she listened extensively to “The Black Cowboy Podcast” while researching this episode.
“There are a lot of interesting angles in the episode — the real history that a huge percentage of cowboys in the old West were Black,” sad executive producer Matt Selman.
Sosthand was also behind last season’s groundbreaking episode “The Sound of Bleeding Gums,” which featured the first-ever use of ASL on “The Simpsons” and also its first-ever deaf voice actors.
Now in its ninth season, “Finding Your Roots” follows Gates as he uses genealogical detective work and cutting-edge DNA analysis to help guests go through their family trees and uncover the stories of long-forgotten ancestors. The current season features actors Jamie Chung, Brian Cox, Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Jeff Daniels, Viola Davis, David Duchovny, Richard Kind, Joe Manganiello, Tamera Mowry-Housley, Edward Norton, Julia Roberts and Danny Trejo; pop star Cyndi Lauper; comedians Carol Burnett and Niecy Nash; athlete and sportscaster Tony Gonzalez; journalists Jim Acosta and Van Jones; activist Angela Y. Davis; and statesman Jeh Johnson.
As for “The Simpsons,” the series was recently renewed through the 2024-25 broadcast cycle. That brings the show to its record-setting 35th and 36th seasons as it continues to be the longest-running scripted series in television history.
Here’s a first look at Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. on “The Simpsons”:
And here are a few more first-look photos from this episode: