Simpsons writer Rob LaZebnik has revealed that the inspiration behind Mr Smithers’ much hyped coming out episode was, in fact, inspired by his openly gay son.
LaZebnik, who is both a writer and co-producer of the show told the New York Post that after alluding to Smithers’ sexuality for the past 27 seasons, his coming out was a way for him to show his son Johnny that he loves him.
“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?’, LaZebnik siad.
For his part, Johnny says he always knew that his father loved him but found it amusing when his father began asking him gay research questions such as, ‘how does grindr work?’.
In the episode that aired on US television this week, Smithers is left heartbroken when he realises that his infatuation with his boss Montgomery Burns is not reciprocated. All is not lost, however, because Homer has a plan to set Smithers up with some of his gay buddies.
Featuring a guest role for Star Trek legend and gay icon George Takei, the episode has been widely praised for the matter of fact and dignified way the show handled Smithers’ coming out.
Despite Smither’s sexuality being common knowledge in Springfield, the episode had been eagerly anticipated by fans after Simpsons executive producer Al Jean confirmed Smithers’ coming out in an interview with tvline.com late last year while discussing the upcoming season.
“In Springfield now, most people know he’s gay, but obviously Burns doesn’t,” Jean said at the time.
“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.”
The Simpsons have previously dedicated many episodes to LGBT themes and characters including Marge’s sister Patty Bouvier who came out back in 2004.