The Simpsons aired a very different and special episode on Sunday. The audience on the Fox comedy show is introduced to a new character named Dr. Wendy Sage. The character is voiced by Renee Ridgeley, who is an actress, writer, and survivor of breast cancer; she is also the wife of Simpsons showrunner Matt Selman.
Renee Ridgeley is shown with unilateral mastectomy and is also showing a visible scar from a port-o-cath, a device used to deliver chemotherapy; this has been praised a lot by the audience and speaks volumes about body positivity. Ridgeley mentioned, “Sage shows up as exactly who she is now. By living openly as a one-breasted woman, she sends a message of acceptance and wholeness celebrated by individuals in marginalized groups.”
I basically only watch new Simpsons out of muscle memory but the one tonight, which is about how casual body-talk by mothers can give daughters a complex, is one of the best I’ve seen in years.
— Mario Bava’s Zack Sunday (@BudrykZack) October 25, 2021
The episode is titled “Lisa’s Belly” and focuses on accepting your body and teaches us about body positivity. Apparently, Marge tells Lisa that she looks a little bulky, and this causes her to develop a complex. So, they seek the help of a hypnotherapist, who is Dr. Wendy Sage. Here we are introduced to this new character; Sage is a breast cancer survivor and has one breast as she decides to let go of surgical reconstruction and is comfortable with the way her body is.
“Sage shows up as exactly who she is now. By living openly as a one-breasted woman, she sends a message of acceptance and wholeness celebrated by individuals in marginalized groups.”
Fans expressed their praise on Twitter, saying, “this is Breast Cancer Awareness Month done well.” Numerous breast cancer survivors loved the episode, and it was quite monumental for them as we see the Tweets; the main point being praised here is that Sage chooses to let go of reconstruction and accepts her body.
— Timothy Omundson (@Omundson) October 24, 2021
Over the years, Renee Ridgeley has become an advocate for flat visibility. She also founded the Less than Two Breasts advocacy campaign and Instagram page, where Sage’s bio was recently shared. She also penned her story in the Washington Post op-ed. She also expressed that she had been hunting and forcing people to introduce characters with breast cancer. Of course, she pushed her husband as well for this.
Matt had been waiting for the right time to introduce this character so that it fits smoothly and does not look like an intentional addition. He stated, “We are always looking to reflect the world as the world changes for good and for bad — usually bad! — but we didn’t want it to feel preachy or jammed in. We wanted the fit to feel really clean. Viewers are very sensitive to feeling like they’re being lectured to.”
My wife @ReneeRidgeley voices @TheSimpsons Dr. Sage, a hypnotherapist who happens to be a one-breasted cancer survivor — who employs cutting-edge holistic techniques as well as Doctor Mysterio’s Mesmerific Hypno-wheel pic.twitter.com/ti4HEIvEZc
— Matt Selman (@mattselman) October 25, 2021
When they started working on the new episode written by Juliet Kaufman, he realized that Sage was the perfect addition in keeping with the theme of body acceptance.
“The people who have watched it so far are more emotionally touched by any other episode I’ve ever worked on, which is just complete magic,” said Selman, who has been a writer and producer on the show for over two decades.
Further adding, “I did feel good about it. But people are just watching it and crying! You do want to make them laugh. But crying is a close second.”
— Magwillti (@magwillti) October 25, 2021