Even casual viewers of The Simpsons have known for years that Waylon Smithers is gay, but at long last, Mr. Burns’ right hand man is set to come out of the closet. It only took 27 seasons.
Executive producer Al Jean let slip that there will be two episodes this season dedicated to Smithers’ sexuality. “In Springfield now, most people know he’s gay, but obviously Burns doesn’t,” Jean says. “We actually do a lot with Smithers this year; he gets fed up with Burns not appreciating him and considers his options.”
For those of you who don’t watch the show, Smithers is the devoted assistant to Mr. Burns, the evil billionaire who runs the Springfield power plant (where Homer Simpson works as safety inspector). Smithers is, of course, in love with his boss; a fact which serves as a running joke throughout the series. Take this, for example:
This won’t be the first episode of The Simpsons that has dealt with LGBT themes; there’s the episode in which gay marriage is legalized in Springfield as well as the one where Homer has a phobia of gays, but learns to tolerate them once he is rescued from a bunch of reindeer by a gay man (voiced by John Waters!) operating a robotic Santa. Fun fact about me: the latter episode served as my first encounter with homosexuality.
So kudos to a show that was always way ahead of its time when it comes to dealing with progressive themes, even if the current episodes aren’t all that hilarious.