Johnny LaZebnik, writer of a new episode of The Simpsons focussing on Waylon Smithers’ gay relationship, has spoken about the creation of the episode.
LaZebnik, who is gay, is the son of longtime Simpsons writer and producer writer/producer Rob LaZebnik. His father wrote the 2016 episode ‘The Burns Cage’ in which Smithers first came out as gay, with LaZebnik acting as an “unnoficial consultant.”
Announced earlier this month and broadcast last week (Novmber 21), ‘Portrait Of A Lackey On Fire’ sees Smithers fall in love with fashion designer Michael De Graaf, voiced by Victor Garber.
“When we, my dad and I, talked about writing this episode, something that was important to me was to see his relationship grow and flourish and to get those intimate moments of two gay people on screen talking about being gay or dating,” LaZebnik told The AV Club.
“To have a gay romance be the A-story of a Simpsons episode, I don’t think has ever happened. And that’s what was so exciting to me.”
Discussing Smithers’ past on the show, he said: “I think in many ways, he was really an impressive gay character to have early on, because he’s not sort of the stereotypical, flamboyant gay that you see in so many of these late ’90s cartoons. He’s probably the most competent character on the show.
“To just keep being able to add to that legacy, and to that story, is awesome. And I think we did a really good job in this episode of keeping true to his character while simultaneously fleshing out his existence as a real person.”
Addressing pervious jokes on the show about Smithers’ sexuality, he said: “I want to be forthright in saying that I love a lot of those jokes. When I talk to my gay friends about The Simpsons […] jokes like that are like some of my favorite content in the show.”
He also expressed his admiration for the way The Simpsons has recently spent time on its minor figures. “The show is doing such a good job at fleshing out all those characters, and Smithers is one of them who deserves his time.”
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