Sure, love means never having to say you're sorry. But The Simpsons creators still owe Waylon Smithers (voiced by Harry Shearer) an apology for making him wait so long for a second shot at a steady boyfriend. The long-suffering assistant to Springfield's local tyrant, Montgomery Burns, officially came out in the 2016 episode "The Burns Cage," where he confessed his love for his boss after 27 seasons of silent pining. When Mr. Burns rejected him, Smithers moved on and enjoyed a fling with the free-spirited Julio before reverting to his eternally-single status. (Julio was originally voiced by Hank Azaria, but the role was recast earlier this year with out gay Cuban-American actor, Tony Rodriguez.)
It's taken five years, but Smithers has finally found a man that's worthy of him. In the Nov. 21 episode of The Simpsons, "Portrait of a Lackey on Fire," Waylon will strike sparks with Michael De Graaf, a famous fashion designer who sounds a lot like Victor Garber. That's because it is Victor Garber; the out gay star of Alias and Legends of Tomorrow makes his Springfield debut and almost immediately sweeps Smithers off his feet.
In an exclusive clip from the Nov. 21 episode that premiered on Entertainment Weekly, viewers get to see Michael and Waylon's first meeting, which ends with the designer inviting Smithers to dinner. "You're talented, smart as a whip and hot in a 1960s Cape Canaveral kind of way," Michael says. "I'd love to take you on a date." Smithers doesn't need any prompting. "Well, I'd love to say yes," he replies, while Homer looks on, delighted at witnessing a match being made.
In the accompanying interview, Simpsons executive producer Matt Selman describes this as a case where opposites attract. "Smithers doesn't know anything about fashion. Smithers is a smart, hardworking, intelligent guy. Michael is tired of people from the New York fashion scene where everyone has an agenda. He wants that middle-America regular guy who isn't about status and fashion stuff."
While Selman declines to say if Michael — and Garber — will be sticking around Springfield after Nov. 21, he does make it clear that Smithers has already come a long way from the meek, Mr. Burns-obsessed man he was in the early years of The Simpsons. "The show has moved away from him being completely obsessed with Mr. Burns all the time. So it feels a little bit like Smithers is like, 'Who am I going to be with?'" Clearly, Victor Garber is the only logical answer to that question.
The Simpsons airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Fox.