Actress Kerry Washington, best known for playing the lead on ABC’s Scandal for five years, will be voicing a character on The Simpsons this Sunday. But this isn’t a guest-star role. This is intended to be a permanent character, and you’ll be hearing Washington play that character on many future episodes. Kerry is Rayshelle Peyton, Bart’s new teacher.
Viewers should not go in expecting Krabappel 2.0 — the writers deliberately swerved away from repeating themselves. “Most of our teachers are kind of burnouts, and it’s just a function of comedy,” co-executive producer Carolyn Omine said to EW.com. “But we thought, ‘Let’s just make this different, let’s make her a good teacher.’ Sometimes it’s hard to find comedy in people that are good, but then you think about people like Leslie Knope. They’re just a bit too much, but they’re good at their job. We wanted to have that kind of teacher.”
It’s a bit dangerous, of course, to commit to an untested character so hard. If it were up to me I would have just tried new characters over and over until one had “sticking power.” This is how nearly every Springfield character rose to prominence, after all. It’s why Ralph Wiggum is in nearly every episode, but Dr. Marvin Monroe isn’t.
Thing is, though….up to now, that’s exactly what The Simpsons has been doing. Several episodes have invented characters that tackled the thankless job of teaching Bart, from an ex-Army sergeant played by Sofia Vergara to an unhinged hard-nosed man played by Willem DaFoe. Perhaps they got tired of it and just settled on someone. It has been a startling nine years since Marcia Wallace’s death (time moves fast, don’t it).
Ms. Peyton came about, initially, because Omine saw her performance on a 2013 episode of Saturday Night Live and thought she’d be great for the show. But nothing ever came of it until 2020, when Washington simply tweeted “Dear animators looking for black voices… Iâ€™m avail.” Omine read it, leapt to the phone, and two years later, we’ve got Bart’s new teacher.
You can see a clip of Sunday’s episode (a bizarre scene where Bart glues paper to his face…we don’t get it) through the EW.com article that broke the story.