The Disney Channel is making a move towards increased inclusivity in an upcoming episode of its Emmy Award-nominated series Big City Greens. The show, created and produced by brothers Chris and Shane Houghton, “follows mischievous and optimistic 10-year-old Cricket Green who moves from the country to the big city with his wildly out of place family—older sister Tilly, father Bill, and Gramma Alice.”
In the episode “Quiet Please,” the Greens will visit a library in the hopes of finding a book that will encourage Cricket to embrace reading (and features a Reed Gunther Easter Egg). A strict librarian (voiced by Linda Hamilton), however, requires their silence and will throw them out if they make a sound. As our exclusive clip below illustrates, Cricket’s older sister Tilly suggests they use sign language. Though she is well-versed in ASL, her family is not, and she says it’s ok to just start with gestures to explain what they need, like charades.
The creators collaborated with consultants Delbert Whetter from RespectAbility, Deaf filmmaker and ASL dialogue coach Jevon Whetter, and ASL interpreter Justin Maurer, who is a “CODA” (a child of deaf adults). Whetter said of their involvement, ”[the creative team] recognized that American Sign Language is a distinctive language, created by and for Deaf people, that is unique in the fact that it can be communicated during complete silence. They instinctively understood that this opened up a wealth of comedic possibilities in this episode, and that the only way to tap into this properly was to bring onboard a deaf-led creative consulting team.”
Whetter added, “We are so pleased that our collaboration helped the Big City Greens team capture the wonderful linguistic and cultural nuances of ASL, as well as our Deaf culture’s sense of humor, in animation. RespectAbility believes that creative consultation should be driven by people with disabilities. The experiences of people with disabilities are so diverse across a vast, wide spectrum, that it makes sense for creative contributions to be led by those that have actually lived the experiences of the disability being portrayed on screen.”
Check out our exclusive clip below:
The episode will also highlight the importance of reading; as Chris Houghton explains: “Cricket has a hard time focusing and so do I! We realized this episode could serve as a great exploration into Cricket’s struggle with finding some type of reading material that would capture his attention. I’ve always had an overactive mind and as a kid, sitting down and reading a book was something I struggled with. Because of that, I always felt self-conscious or stupid for not being able to be entertained by The Hobbit or whatever. I’d beat myself because of it. That’s ridiculous! I simply needed to find something that I personally enjoyed. It wasn’t until middle school that I realized that I preferred non-fiction books. So that’s all I read now and I don’t sweat about it. Reading should be fun! No one should feel ‘bad’ for not liking a certain type of book.”
Shane Houghton added, “This episode is definitely our love letter to comics! Growing up, I struggled with reading. I could never get into a book and reading always felt like a chore. But one day in my elementary school library, I discovered a collection of Peanuts comic strips and devoured it faster than any other book. Then I found another, and another, and soon my parents had a hard time finding me without some sort of collection of comics in my hands. Comic strips lead to comic books, which lead to graphic novels, which lead to books of all kinds. I read every day now and even grew up to be a writer, all thanks to reading comics.”
“Quiet Please” will air Saturday, September 19th at 8PM on Disney Channel.
Here’s the official synopsis for Season 2:
Season 2 of the hit animated comedy-adventure series “Big City Greens” follows the offbeat adventures of 10-year-old Cricket Green, whose natural curiosity and enthusiasm lead him and his family – older sister Tilly, father Bill and Gramma Alice – on epic journeys and into the hearts of his new neighbors. “Big City Greens” stars Chris Houghton as Cricket Green, Artemis Pebdani (“Scandal”) as sweet Gramma Alice, Marieve Herington (“How I Met Your Mother”) as quirky older sister Tilly Green and Bob Joles (“Puss in Boots”) as hard-working father Bill Green. The creative team includes Monica Ray (“Harvey Beaks”) and Natasha Kline (“South Park”) as directors and Joachim Horsley (“Spirit Riding Free”) as composer.
Allison Keene is the TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For more television talk, pop culture chat and general japery, you can follow her @keeneTV
For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.