Complete with Gay Sex Apps, Smithers Comes Out of the Closet on ‘The Simpsons’

In tonight’s episode of Fox’s The Simpsons, “The Burns Cage,” Waylon Smithers, Jr. (voice of Harry Shearer) comes out of the closet to Mr. Burns. Burns, not gay, isn’t interested in Smithers’ advances so Homer Simpson (voice of Dan Castellaneta) decides to find Smithers a boyfriend. Yes, that’s right, in Season 27, Smithers, after many years of dreamy infatuation with Mr. Burns, comes out as a gay character.

Bringing an idea he had two or three years ago to our television screen now, show writer Rob LaZebnik uses the storyline to confirm his love and support of his own son, 21-year-old Johnny, who is gay. Only in Hollyweird, am I right?

Predictably, the storyline is also a piece of political activism:

Rob says gay storylines, even on cartoons, are important. “Sometimes TV can have a real impact on people’s thinking,” he says…

In the episode, Homer uses the computer app "Grindr" to find gay men for Smithers. He and Marge host a party, inviting gay men in hopes that Smithers will find someone. There is a standard gay reference – an animated cameo by former Star Trek star George Takei, a well-known Hollywood gay activist. Smithers leaves the party with the Cuban bartender.

Guest: Everything looks great, Marge. That cheese is cubed perfectly.

Marge:  Thank you. I get queasy when I see cubes that are cut on the bias. 

(Doorbell rings)

Homer:  Oh, Mr. Smithers. Come in, come in, come in. Can I get you a Tom Collins?

Tom Collins: Hello, Tom Collins.

Smithers:  Hmm, I see what's going on here. Fix up your boss so he won't be so hard on you. Well, nice try. I want a vodka tonic, and then I'm gonna leave.

George Takei:  Mr. Collins, would you be charmed by horror stories of working with Bill Shatner?

Tom Collins:  Uh, who? 

George Takei: I like you already.

Bartender:  You know what? I don't think that attitude is the real you. I believe you have a pinched nerve in your neck, and guess what? You're in luck, because I give great massage.

Smithers:  Sorry, not interested. (Bones popping) Wow, wow. How did you do that? 

Bartender: Would you like to discuss that over Peruvian tapas? 

Smithers: Simpson, I'm stealing your bartender. Take the next couple days off.

Homer:  Woo-hoo! Three day bender! 

The writers of The Simpsons have slowly brought homosexuality into the show over the years.  On 2/16/97 the episode “Homer’s Phobia” showed Homer feeling threatened by a gay shop owner’s sexual preference; on 4/13/03 the episode “Three Gays of the Condo” had Homer moving out of the family home and in with a gay couple; and on 2/20/05 in “There’s Something About Marry,” gay marriage is legal in Springfield and thought to be a vehicle for increased tourism. What will be next for the liberal writers -- transgender characters?

The ironic part, though, is that LaZebnik’s son didn’t need the show character to validate his father’s love for him. He states clearly that he has only felt love and support from his father all along. Maybe his father should just give it a rest already.

Culture/Society Sexuality Homosexuality FOX The Simpsons

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