Watch: Smithers gets a boyfriend in The Simpsons
More than three decades after he first appeared on screen, The Simpsons stalwart Waylon Smithers will finally get a boyfriend in an upcoming episode.
Mr Burns' personal assistant came out as gay in 2016, after years of innuendo about his infatuation with his boss, but new episode Portrait of a Lackey on Fire will see him pursue romance with a new character.
The synopsis for the episode, due to air in the USA on 21 November, reads: "Smithers finds true love with a famous fashion designer, but will his new relationship destroy Springfield?"
Victor Garber, star of films including Legally Blonde and The First Wives Club, will voice Smithers' partner in a guest role.
The episode's title is a reference to the award-winning period film Portrait of a Lady on Fire, in which an 18th century artist forms a lesbian romance with the woman she has been hired to paint.
Long-time Simpsons writer Rob LaZebnik — who also penned Smithers' coming out episode The Burns Cage — wrote the latest instalment alongside his gay son Johnny LaZebnik.
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In an interview around the release of the 2016 episode, Rob said: "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?'"
Johnny described the Portrait of a Lackey on Fire episode as "very gay" on his Twitter page last month.
— Johnny LaZebnik (@jlazebnik) October 30, 2021
Smithers is voiced by Harry Shearer and made his first appearance in the third episode of The Simpsons' first season in 1990.
His sexuality has been a poorly-kept secret since the earliest days of the show, with frequent innuendo and double entendres around his love for Mr Burns.
But in season 27 episode The Burns Cage, Smithers finally told his boss how he felt — only to be knocked back in brutal fashion.
"Don't take this the wrong way, but you mean nothing to me," said Burns. "Someone I give less thought to than the little piece of popcorn stuck in my tooth."
Later in the episode, the character found romance with a man named Julio, only for the relationship to break down amid his continued unrequited love for Burns.
This time around, his relationship with fashion designer Michael De Graff could be the real deal.
Portrait of a Lackey on Fire will air in the States on 21 November, with season 33's UK airdate on Sky yet to be confirmed.
The first 32 seasons of The Simpsons are available to stream in the UK via Disney+.
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