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The Simpsons: Waylon Smithers

By Wikipedia

Waylon Smithers Jr. (voiced by Harry Shearer) is a fictional character from The Simpsons. He is the self-proclaimed best friend and personal assistant of Mr. Burns (often simply referred to as Smithers), and serves as an executive administrator at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Since the debut of the show, the term "Smithers" has become a common synonym for a spineless underling.

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Born around 1954, Smithers is divorced and lives alone in an apartment with a Yorkshire terrier named Hercules. He is an alumnus of the Alpha Tau fraternity. His father, Waylon Smithers Sr., worked for Burns until he died saving Springfield from a potential nuclear meltdown (The Blunder Years).

In his first appearance in the series, the episode "Homer's Odyssey", Smithers was unintentionally made African American by the production team in Korea due to a misunderstanding. The studios have stated that Smithers was intended to be yellow, and that his first appearance should be considered extreme sun tan.

Personal life

Initially there was much speculation about Smithers' sexual orientation, but eventually he was revealed to be gay, but officially he is currently "in the closet".

In many ways Smithers represents the stereotype of the closeted gay man. In his private life he has many gay friends and hangs out at Springfield's gay village. In public, however he remains insecure and uncomfortable with his sexuality, denying it when questioned. The brevity of his marriage is portrayed as being a result of this, in a Cat on a Hot Tin Roof parody. Because of this past relationship, Smithers might be regarded as bisexual, though he has shown little interest in women since.

While he has had other boyfriends in "Homer's Phobia", he confronts John (guest-voiced by John Waters) after realizing he lied to get out of a date (claiming he was caring for his sick mother) Smithers's great love is Burns. His sexual orientation has been characterized by the writers of the show as "burnsasexual". He periodically has fantasies about his boss (in "Rosebud", Burns pops nude out of a birthday cake and sings "Happy Birthday, Mr. Smithers," and has a computer screensaver that features a nude Mr. Burns that say to him: "Hello Smithers, you're quite good at turning me on."). In "Secrets of a Successful Marriage", Smithers's then-wife blames Burns for ruining their marriage. He has openly declared his love for Burns at least twice, most dramatically in "Lisa the Skeptic", when, believing the world is coming to an end, Smithers kisses him on the lips; the oblivious Burns dismisses the whole episode. Perhaps because of the large generation gap between the two men (Burns still regards "gay" as meaning happy), Burns has remained largely indifferent or ignorant of Smithers' subtle advances, much to his frustration, even when Smithers says "I love you" (although in more recent episodes Burns appears to have some concerns).

His catch-phrase can be heard whenever Burns almost dies in various accidents; he sobs "Oh Mr. Burns! You were too beautiful for this world!". However, Burns never hears him say that because he's always unconscious at the time.

Smithers is also lethally allergic to bee-stings.

Smithers has the world's largest collection of Malibu Stacy dolls, is president of the Malibu Stacy Fan Club, and staged Malibu Stacy, The Musical.

In the 2005 episode Future-Drama (Which takes place 8 years into the future), Smithers is shown as being on a date with a woman, explaining that he injects anti-gay drugs into his arm every 10 minutes.

Work life

Smithers' official job at the powerplant appears to be that of a high-level executive, as well as being Burns' private assistant. He is responsible for monitoring attendance among employees, and is often a disciplinarian. He has often hinted at wanting to be promoted to the position of executive vice president, but Burns has repeatedly squashed this dream, while whimsically bestowing the vice presidency on Homer, a dog, and a monkey. Burns has also refused to make Smithers his heir, insisting that it would be a far greater honor for him to be buried alive in the same casket when he dies.

His role in the series is often that as Burns' comic foil or straight man. Patient and calm, he often tries to talk Burns out of his more outrageous schemes while still being polite and respectful of his boss. Burns routinely takes his anger out on Smithers and rarely praises him, a fact which Smithers just views as a sign he is not working hard enough.

He was fired by Burns only twice, the first being after a heated argument in the Who Shot Mr. Burns? episode. His job with Burns being the only thing that gave his life meaning, Smithers quickly became a drunk and spent all his free time watching Comedy Central. He was ultimately re-hired. The second time was when Homer became his temporary replacement while Smithers went on vacation. After punching Burns, Homer wasn't allowed to go near him. With no one to help him, Burns learned how to do everything himself. When Smithers returned, he was no longer needed. He was later re-hired when Burns became seriously injured after a fight between Homer and Smithers.

Smithers' job is actually 2,800 small odd jobs that he does for Burns. Though he often does Burns' dirty work, such as kidnapping Tom Jones or lying to Congress, Smithers cannot be regarded as a truly evil character, but instead as a victim of his own loyalty to an unpleasant individual. His other duties for Burns include moistening his eye balls, preparing his breakfast, driving his car, assisting with his chewing and swallowing, tucking him in at night, and some light typing. All this indicates that Burns has a seemingly childlike dependence on Smithers.

Trivia

The town of Smithers, West Virginia, lies directly across the Kanawha River from the town of Montgomery, West Virginia (as in Montgomery Burns). Also, the town of Smithers, British Columbia is just down the road from the community of Burns Lake, British Columbia.

Weyland was the Anglo-Saxon god of blacksmithing (also see Wayland's Smithy).

 

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TV TIDBITS

Aired: December 17, 1989 -

Cast: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer

Network: FOX

Genre: Cartoon

Theme songSoundtrack

Spinoff of: The Tracy Ullman Show

Image courtesy of FOX


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