Some representatives of LGBT criticised the show as the character never actually says 'I'm gay.'
After some 27 years spent concealing his sexuality, Waylon Smithers came out in a recent Simpsons episode, to his long term boss Mr Burns.
Thanks to a son of one of the show's writers, who is gay himself, Smithers was finally afforded the opportunity to freely engage with his sexual orientation.
Speaking about his motivation for writing an episode dedicated to Smithers, co-executive producer Rob LaZebnik said:
“I thought ‘What better way to tell my son I love him than to write a cartoon about it?’”
In the episode entitled 'The Burns Cage,' Homer volunteers to assist Mr Smithers in finding a partner on the dating app Grindr. Marge and Homer also host a party in their house where they invite gay men who could potentially be a good match for Smithers
But the climactic scene features Smithers and his long term crush, and employer, Mr Burns. Smithers had always hinted at his homosexuality in the past. He even kissed him in that episode where the townspeople of Springfield thought a fossil had predicted the Apocalypse.
But in this episode, he was ready to openly admit to it before Burns interjects and effectively rejects Smithers affections.
While the intention to reconcile Smithers with his true sexual identity is a core part of this episode, not everyone is satisfied with how the Simpsons writers handled his coming out.
Daniel D’Addario of Time magazine accused the show of staging the revelation without any 'imagination.'
''None of the guests get anything to say; the show’s take on as easy a target as the gay-dating app Grindr is to acknowledge that it exists.''
''And the episode’s fundamental lack of imagination about ways to portray gay life onscreen can be summed up with one detail: The guy Smithers ends up with is a fiery, lispy Latin bartender cut from the same cloth as Simpsons star Hank Azaria’s character in the 1996 movie The Birdcage. If you’re in need of a second, George Takei was a guest star, playing himself.”
Let's take a look at some of the defining moments in The Simpsons where Smithers hinted at his sexuality:
Smithers: People like dogs, Mr. Burns.
Mr Burns: Nonsense! Dogs are idiots. Think about it, Smithers. If I came into your house and started sniffing at your crotch and slobbering all over you, what would you say?
Smithers: If *you* did it, sir?
Mr Burns: [in a tanker] I've been waiting 25 years for this moment.
[puts an audio tape in which starts playing Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" but then abruptly changes to ABBA's "Waterloo"]
Smithers: I'm sorry, sir. I must've taped over that.
Mr Burns So, Smithers, what are you doing this weekend. Something gay, I expect?
Mr Burns: You know, light and fancy free. Mothers, lock up your daughters. Smithers is on the town.
Smithers: Oh. Of course.