The Simpsons’ Smithers to come out finally
For more than 20 years, Waylon Smithers (better known as Smithers) has faithfully served under the ominous shadow of Mr. Burns, the owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, in the long-running animated sitcom The Simpsons. Finally, it’s his time to shine– by coming out from the closet.
Yes, the perennial yes-man Smithers will get a chance to admit he’s gay. But the question remains whether or not he’ll be able to get Mr. Burns to accept his unrequited love.
Smithers in The Simpsons
Snithers, voiced by Harry Shearer (who also voices Mr. Burns), first appeared in The Simpsons’ episode, “Homer’s Odyssey”, which was the third episode of the first season. However, his voice was also heard in the series premiere “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.”
(In an interesting side note, Smithers was first depicted as black– though this was more due to a coloring error. He was later depicted in the customary yellow color as most characters in the show are presented.)
The personal assistant of Mr. Burns, Smithers had long been rumored as gay during the entire run of the show. However, episodes did show him frequenting the fictional town of Springfield’s gay village as well as going to a male-only resort for vacation.
Though Smithers is seen as competent, Mr. Burns and most of the population of Springfield treat him as a lackey.
Smithers and his unrequited love
What makes Smithers interesting as a character is his supposed love for the harsh and selfish Mr. Burns, which has become a long-running gag in the show.
Speaking of upcoming season 27, The Simpsons’ executive producer Al Jean told TVLine that, “In Springfield now, most people know he’s gay, but obviously Burns doesn’t. We deal with that in two episodes. We actually do a lot with Smithers this year; he gets fed up with Burns not appreciating him and considers his options.”
However, Smithers is not the first gay character in The Simpsons. The most prominent gay character in the show is Patricia “Patty” Bouvier, one of Marge Simpson’s twin sisters, who turned out to be lesbian. Patty first came out in a February 2005 episode, wanting to get married to another woman.
In a news report in The Guardian, Edward Schiappa, head of comparative media studies at MIT, spoke on the upcoming story in The Simpsons. He said: “Springfield is about as middle American as one can get, and Smithers coming out within that fictional world mirrors– and reinforces– the mainstreaming of gays and lesbians in the real world.