Waylon Smithers, the overly obsessive personal assistant to billionaire Mr. Burns on the hit FOX show The Simpsons, is coming out and it only took him 27 seasons.
“In Springfield now, most people know he’s gay but obviously Burns doesn’t,” said Simpsons executive producer Al Jean in an interview with TV Line. “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.”
For the long term watchers of the long-running series, a gay Smithers should be no surprise. While he has not verbally declared himself to be gay, several episodes have pointed to his sexuality. Smithers has gay friends, hangs out in Springfield’s gay village and even vacations at a male-only resort.
Smithers fantasied about his boss popping out of a birthday cake and flying through his bedroom window in two separate episodes, and in both intendances Mr. Burns was naked.
This isn’t the first time The Simpsons have tackled LGBT issues. In 1990, during the series’ second season, Homer and the character Karl (voiced by Harvey Fierstein) share a kiss in the episode “Simpson and Delilah” and in the 1997 episode “Homer’s Phobia,” Homer comes to terms with the character John (voiced by John Waters) being gay. The latter won a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding TV.
The brightest spot of The Simpsons’ LGBT support came in the 2005 episode “There’s Something About Marrying” when Springfield decides to legalize same-sex marriage and Marge’s sister Patty reveals she is a lesbian.
The Simpsons 27th season started Sept. 27 and can be seen Sundays at 8 P.M. EST on FOX.