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The Simpson is set to have a big episode this weekend, revolving around the fact that a longtime character is coming out as gay. That character is question is none other than Waylon Smithers, the long-time second-in-command to Homer Simpson’s boss, Mr. Burns. The news was revealed before the episode has even aired, thanks to an emotional interview from Simpsons writer Rob LaZebnik, who wrote the episode for his son.
Rob LaZebnik recently spoke out to the NY Post, explaining that he wrote the episode to support his own son, Johnny, who is gay. Here’s the true story behind how the episode came together. First and foremost, LaZebnik actually came up with the idea for the episode 2-3 years ago. He then worked with his kid on the episode to make sure the details came out right. As for why he wrote the episode? The writer has a pretty succinct reason for finally allowing Smithers to come out.
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?’
Waylon Smithers Jr. has been a character on The Simpsons since nearly the very beginning, first appearing in the third episode in Season 1. Over the years, Smithers’ sexual attraction to C. Montgomery Burns has been shown on a pretty regular basis, however, those feelings have never been verbalized in such a way that he’s actually come out of the closet. That’s about to change with this week’s episode, as he’ll finally vocalize his feelings and start looking outside the workplace for a real chance at love, ideally with someone who is not a miserable, ancient-looking moneybags like his longtime employer who will never share his affection.
The Simpsons is not always as timely as it once was (although it still has its moments), but Smithers deciding to make a change and come out of the closet still shows that Fox’s long-running comedy is still capable of unique moments. Smithers was in the closet for years because it was a common trope at the time and there wasn't necessarily a reason for him to come out. But now we live in a day and age when people are freer to be who they want to be without having to hide that fact. With that in mind, now seems like the perfect time for him to be open about who he is and look beyond his POS boss.
If you’d like to tune in for tonight’s episode, you can catch Smithers and the rest of the characters in action starting tonight at 8 p.m. ET. In addition, as the TV season dwindles down, you can see what is coming up this summer, here.