The upcoming episode, titled “Portrait Of A Lackey On Fire,” was written by longtime series writer Rob LaZebnik and his son Johnny LaZebnik, who inspired him to write Smithers’ original coming-out episode.
“So often, gay romances are a subplot or alluded to or shown in some kind of montage or as a punchline,” Johnny LaZebnik told the New York Post this week.
“And what I think I was really excited about, with this episode, we get to see — without spoiling too much — the beginning, middle and who knows how it ends of a gay relationship, of really getting into the nitty-gritty of how gay people date, how they meet, what it’s like.”
According to the episode synopsis: “Smithers finds true love with a famous fashion designer, but will his new relationship destroy Springfield?”
His new boyfriend is fashion mogul Michael De Graaf, voiced by Victor Garber.
Garber, the openly gay star of Global’s “Family Law,” told the New York Post he was “crucially important that these stories are acknowledged,” adding that every time he plays a gay character “it brings back certain feelings I had as a young actor where I couldn’t be gay.”
Smither’s sexual orientation was an open secret on the show for years. Before his official coming out in season 27, his utter infatuation with Mr. Burns was depicted in elaborate fantasy sequences.