'The Simpsons' Will Finally Give Smithers a Boyfriend

Photo credit: Fox
Photo credit: Fox

The Simpsons has been on the air for so long that its characters have been through pretty much every storyline imaginable—with the exception, perhaps, of Waylan Smithers, the long-suffering employee of the nefarious Mr. Burns, who has remained single. But that is set to change in a forthcoming episode of the 33rd season, in which Smithers will fall in love and embark on a relationship with billionaire Michael de Graaf. You can't say the man doesn't have a type.

"I think it’s crucially important that these stories are acknowledged," says openly gay actor Victor Garber, who voices de Graaf in the episode. "I haven’t played a lot of gay characters, but every time I do it, it brings back certain feelings I had as a young actor where I couldn’t be gay."

Allusions to Smithers' private life formed the basis of jokes for pretty much the entirety of the show's run, with constant gags about his longstanding crush on Mr. Burns and even pretty blatant suggestions that he was dating other Springfield residents. But the writers finally made that all canon in a 2016 episode which saw Smithers come out of the closet—and unlike many character developments which have occurred over more than 30 seasons, instead of hitting the reset button as soon as the credits rolled, Smithers remained openly gay in subsequent episodes.

That coming-out episode was penned by Rob LaZebnik, who has said that the story was inspired by his son Johnny, who is gay. The father and son also co-wrote Smithers' upcoming love story, and both were keen to respectfully represent the relationship

"So often, gay romances are a subplot or alluded to or shown in some kind of montage or as a punchline," Johnny told the New York Post. "And what I think I was really excited about, with this episode, we get to see — without spoiling too much — the beginning, middle and who knows how it ends of a gay relationship, of really getting into the nitty-gritty of how gay people date, how they meet, what it’s like. That was really special to me to get to highlight characters who are not punchlines, who are fully formed."

This Thanksgiving episode of The Simpsons will air on November 21.

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