A major "Simpsons" character is set to come out as gay.
Smithers' sexuality will be dealt with in two episodes in season 27 of the Fox series, executive producer Al Jean told TV Line. While most characters (and viewers) know Smithers' affections for his wealthy boss Mr. Burns, Burns himself is oblivious.
“In Springfield now, most people know he’s gay, but obviously Burns doesn’t,” he said. “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.”
Season 26's "The Princess Guides" showed Smithers daydreaming about Burns coming out to him, an episode that critics noted for covering Smithers' sexuality most explicitly.
A 2013 study featured in the book Behind the Gay Laughter: Homosexuality in "The Simpsons" suggested that "The Simpsons" has helped gay men come out because of the way in which it has featured same-sex relationships, including Smithers and Burns' relationship and Homer Simpson kissing other men.
"As a result, 'The Simpsons' conveys to an audience of millions a typically American, but an uncharacteristically open-minded, image of gays and lesbians," reads a synopsis of the book on Amazon, as translated by The Huffington Post. "Despite the fallback to stereotypes, an intelligent, fair and entertaining handling of homosexuality can be observed in 'The Simpsons.'"
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