Waylon Smithers, the obedient, sycophantic assistant to cantankerous billionaire Montgomery Burns, will finally have a boyfriend in a landmark episode of “The Simpsons.” Excellent.
It’s only been 33 years.
Smithers, who came out in a 2016 episode of the long running animated series, will be at the center of a gay romance story in the Nov. 21 episode “Portrait of a Lackey on Fire.”
The forthcoming episode was written by longtime series writer Rob LaZebnik, 59, and his son, Johnny LaZebnik, 27, who identifies as gay.
“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 this week.
“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,” he said.
“That was really special to me to get to highlight characters who are not punchlines, who are fully formed,” he said.
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The official episode synopsis says, “Smithers finds true love with a famous fashion designer, but will his new relationship destroy Springfield?”
Smithers’ boyfriend is fashion mogul Michael De Graaf, voiced by guest star Victor Garber, the openly gay star of Global Television Network’s “Family Law” who married his longtime partner, artist Rainer Andreesen, in 2015.
“It’s crucially important that these stories are acknowledged,” Garber, 72, told the New York Post. “I haven’t played a lot of gay characters, but every time I do, it brings back certain feelings I had as a young actor where I couldn’t be gay.”
Smither’s sexual orientation was an open secret on the show for years. His head-over-heels infatuation with Mr. Burns was depicted in elaborate fantasy sequences. In one segment, Smithers is under the covers in bed and envisions Mr. Burns flying through the window and hovering in his bedroom.
Smithers official came out in the season 27 episode “Tom Collins,” which Rob wrote as a tribute to his gay son.
“I am a Midwestern guy, so I don’t tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve, but I thought, ‘What better way to tell my son I love him than to write a cartoon about it?’ ” he told The Post 2016. “Sometimes TV can have a real impact on people’s thinking.”