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Smithers’ Coming Out Was Inspired by Simpsons Writer’s Son

by matt baume April 01, 2016


We’re coming up on three decades that The Simpsons has been on the air, which seems like a long time but humanity’s been telling and retelling Greek myths for centuries, so apparently some stories just never get old. Anyway, Smithers is gay now, everyone, alert the media.

This isn’t exactly a new development for the character — remember when he got in a tiff with John Waters on an episode in like 1997? But now he’s going to be openly gay and dating and not exclusively lusting after Mr. Burns. In other words, a well-adjusted normal adult gay man. Smithers, it’s like we don’t even know who you are anymore.

And who do we have to thank for this transformation? A 21-year-old college student who came out to his dad a few years ago. That dad was Rob LaZebnik, and he’s a writer for the show. Rob incorporated elements of his son’s queer experience into the Smithers story, which must seem awfully strange to young Johnny. Imagine seeing details of your own life reflected in a character created almost a decade before you were born. (Johnny says he’s more of a Lisa than a Smithers, and oh honey, yes, all Martin Princes want to believe they are Lisa.)

Apparently, during the script-writing process, Johnny would get emails from his dad asking things like, “how does Grindr work?” (Grindr, if you’re unfamiliar, is a smartphone app that generates texts reading “hi” and “sup” at random intervals.)

Anyway from all accounts Rob is a super cool dad who is deeply involved in his kid’s life, and so the whole thing is just super-sweet. Having visible gay characters on TV is generally a good thing, now that we’re past the dark days of shows like Seriously Dude I’m Gay, so thumbs up to everyone involved.

Now, if only a few children of  Wrestlemania writers would come out.

matt baume
matt baume


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