Will & Grace (1998– )
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Lately the show has taken something of a dip in quality. Season 5 reached an early peak in November sweeps with Grace's marriage to Leo Markus, and trying to establish a long term relationship with Will and Barry proved fruitless as it was truly unfunny. Season 6 proved dismal in many ways, from the writing which was not delivering good jokes, to Debra Messing's forced absence due to her pregnancy which took the balance out of the story lines, to Jack and Karen's essences being dumbed down to make them look more like morons in search for a quick laugh, to situations which seemed repetitive and even unfocused. Then Season 7's dismal beginning, with episodes featuring Jennifer Lopez and Janet Jackson essentially doing nothing to bring any comedy to the sitcom questioned would the series be canceled sooner than not, but lately it has been getting back on track, putting the mega-guest stars aside for some actual comedy. Characters are a little more defined, less cartoonish, and situations don't seem as tiredly funny as they were during the aforementioned slump, and whether the show goes on for another season or two I hope that it will go back to how it began, with frenzied humor and sharp lines which was how it got its trademark. It is still a great show and one that deserves the best presentation NBC has to offer.
I was living in London and sharing a flat with two gay guys from Scotland when the show came out. Our Thursday nights were something of a television ritual of late night comedy and copious amounts of alcohol. Will & Grace was laugh-out-loud funny and the gay characters were real. We knew guys like Will and Jack. Hell, even my flat mates were a little bit like the show's gay duo. And we loved the main female characters just as much too. It's rare to find flawless writing coupled with perfectly executed comedic performances. It's rarer still to find all four main characters that are equally funny, equally vain, and equally insecure, and all armed to the teeth with gay in-jokes that only our community could understand. It also showed humanity at its rawest. These characters embraced their dark side and wore their childish tantrums, backstabbing, and one-upmanship like a bold and beautiful Rainbow flag. Will & Grace worked not only because it was spot-on about gay life but also because it never excluded heterosexuals.
To recap the premise of the show, Will and Grace are best friends and share a New York apartment. Will is a successful Manhattan lawyer and Grace is a successful self-employed interior designer. Grace's assistant Karen is a wealthy socialite who works to keep herself down to earth and Will's best friend Jack is over-the-top self obsessed and always looking for work. The series over 8 years has gone through changes in roommates, changes in jobs, and countless changes in relationships.
Will (Eric McCormack) and Jack (Sean Hayes) complement one another in their differences. Will is a professional and is almost a grown up. Jack is fun to be with but also incredibly vein; sometimes you just want to throttle him. In the first season alone he decides to become a singer and a massage therapist, he embarrasses Will at the gym, and agrees to marry Karen's illegal immigrant maid, Rosario (Shelley Morrison). Grace (Debra Messing) and Karen are as equally vein. Grace's insecurities rear up in her work and with her relationship with Will. Her neurotic behavior is only put to past by straight-talking Karen -a no nonsense socialite with airs and graces that only women of her standing get to be. She drinks too much, takes drugs, spends money, and is always up for the thrill. She's the perfect "fag-hag."
Hollywood has flocked to the series with numerous guest star appearances (see above). Debbie Reynolds's reoccurring role as Grace's self-obsessed actress mother provides some of the best mother and daughter tug of war relationships ever to hit the screen. Two of Grace's boyfriends, however, over stayed their welcome. Woody Harrelson's turn as Grace's boyfriend, Nathan, threatened to straighten out the series altogether as the gay dynamic of the show took a back seat. Harry Connick Jr.'s character, Dr. Leo, also took a stab at turning the show from a biting comedy with gay in jokes to just another mainstream show for the masses.
Will and Grace was the only TV show that represented my gay life and the gay people in it. Our London life was full of hilarity, love and friendship, spending money, and dealing with family. Will & Grace represented a multi-faceted gay life that wasn't a tragedy; no one died of A.I.D.S. or committed suicide. Instead it emphasized the relationship with the family: Will's mother, Jack's estranged father. It showed that these issues were just as important to Will and Jack as Grace's love-hate relationship with her own mother.
It's doubtful if there will ever be another successful mainstream gay comedy. I say this because Will & Grace was so successful for so long, that any TV comedy script that even hints at a gay character will automatically be compared to it.
When the show started, I was still upset about the cancellation of "Ellen" and didn't watch, but when I did I was HOOKED IMMEDIATELY! It was fresh, well-acted and written. Due to work commitments, I have to rely on syndication to watch it and it wasn't until recently that I got to see more recent episodes.
Probably the best episode of the first season was "Will Works Out" where Will is terrified that one of his clients would find out he was gay, and his own internal homophobia shone through when he called Jack a "fag." Jack's line "I'd rather be a fag than afraid." was amazing.
One of the show's strengths was that the cattiness was only on the surface and it really showed that these characters were vulnerable and loved each other. But, lately, the comedy has just become, well, mean.
This show is still great and has a lot of potential, I just wish the characters would be allowed to be human again. The episode where Karen gets rejected by that player restaurant manager (Andy Garcia, I think, but don't quote me on that), was a turning point for her character. We really saw that all Karen's mean-spirited barbs were just bravura to cover her insecurity. She and the recently-married Grace had a great moment at the end. Classic.
Lately, the characters have become somewhat one-note, but this can change. If this show is going to survive (which I REALLY hope it does) the lovability of these characters needs resurrection.
Kudos to the amazing cast, brilliant writers and directors. Also, Shelley Morrison (I hope I spelled that right) deserves note, she is very funny as Karen's somewhat frightening maid/henchwoman Rosario.
To all concerned, please bring "Will and Grace" back to it's former glory. You've created a gem...it just needs a bit of polishing.
They found more than one script in the closet. Episode 2 was more of the first eight seasons with old, tired and unevolved characters played by actors using the postal service.
I wanted so much to love Will & Grace, but it's become won't and graceless. That's an awful pun, but better than the show.
Sadly, this show has proved you can't go home.
Season Reviewed: Complete Series (8 seasons)
On the surface "Will & Grace" will seem like just another shallow, sex-based studio-audience sitcom, and beneath that it is -in fact - just another shallow, sex-based studio-audience sitcom. But David Kohan and Max Mutchnick have put together a sitcom with all the elements of a classic screwball comedy, given it a modern attitude and a tad of bite that the genre is starving for since the departure of "Seinfeld". In the network sitcom machine, they have proved to be light-years ahead of the hacks.
"Grace" makes a favorable comparison to "Seinfeld". It features a tight-nit cast of distinctly different friends, all of them vain and narcissistic to the point that the world outside their own social life is expendable. They include long-time best friends lawyer Will Truman (Eric McCormack) and designer Grace Adler (Debra Messing, "Seinfeld"), her obscenely wealthy, pill-popping, gin-swilling assistant Karen Walker (Megan Mullally) and flamboyant man-child and would-be actor Jack McFarlane (Sean Hayes). McCormack plays Will as one of the funniest straight-men in recent TV history, the height of irony since Will and out-and-proud Jack are gay, which in network execu-speak makes "Will & Grace" "gay-themed". Grace is straight and ties her happiness to her success or failure in relationships with men and Karen is whatever she wants.
"Just Jack" Hayes writes himself a ticket to chew up the screen and has an impeccable gift for slapstick, but without a doubt the breakout star of the series is Megan Mullally who makes Karen Walker into one of the best supporting characters in TV history. Always by her side is Rosario (Shelley Morrison). Like the Toto to Karen's Princess Centimillia, Rosario is the funniest human prop in recent TV memory. Whatever is going on in the scene just wheel in Rosario, let Karen demean her and it's almost a free laugh from me every time.
So you could talk about "Grace" as a sitcom or as a work of Hollywood social conditioning. In a usually mindless genre, Kohan and Mutchnick looked into their crystal ball and jumped out in front of the impending rise in gay-themed shows based in a politically correct agenda that would crest while this one was one the air, and ultimately have the most debatable and divisive sitcom to come along in quite a while. An achievement, to say the least. Time was good to "Will & Grace" and as the rest of TV caught up with it, it took a step further. A culturally aware satire, with a great ability to take topical current event hot buttons and turn them into a spry one-liner that smashes pulp in the faces of everyone who expects to hear it make a point. Whether "Grace's" technique of simultaneously admitting and challenging broad gay stereotypes speaks well for its audience is highly debatable and something I don't feel qualified to answer.
The real truth is that "Will & Grace" is an opposite sex platonic love story masquerading as the more network-acceptable gay-themed sitcom. Because any network, particularly NBC, would mandate that Will and Grace "got together" in any other scenario, Kohan and Mutchnick made Will and Jack gay and effectively removed that potential problem to their platonic love story, between Will and Grace as well as an adorably co-dependent relationship between Jack and Karen.
I've changed my stance on "Will & Grace" over the years. Maybe it was the consistently great performance and active vocal lobbying amid the reality invasion from McCormack, maybe it was the degrading rate of every sitcom around it that, but the show won me back after suffering a long drought in the middle of the series. During that drought the show made some head-scratching choices, taking the show into melodramatic territory. The series picked up the "never-be-alone" TV mandate and made Grace as miserable as possible trying to find a man, from an insufferable arc with Woody Harrelson to the addition of the comically anemic Harry Connick Jr. as Grace's white knight globe-trotting doctor husband. In the last 2 seasons, (and with the help of Alec Baldwin guesting as Will's insane new boss) the show pulled itself back out to its former glory.
Baldwin would be one in a handful of big celebrity guest stars that would come through the "Will & Grace" universe over the years. For all of its crude sex jokes, "Grace" recalls a classically styled sitcom in the way its characters will interact with the stars of today playing themselves in the same way Lucille Ball used to interact with Bob Hope on "I Love Lucy". Highlights include Jack meeting his idol Cher and Parker Posey hitting on Will and low-points involving a slap fight with Jennifer Lopez and Michael Douglas embarrassing himself in a character role as a gay cop. The show also went to the wall with gutsy "live" shows and slapstick that most TV isn't limber enough to go for.
Yes, some of the jokes were as subtle as a javelin in the eye and the characters skirted dangerously close to being one-note. But the writing is whip smart and doused with terrific pop culture references and a phenomenal cast glued together with everlasting chemistry catapulted it far ahead of most post-"Seinfeld" sitcoms. "Will & Grace" didn't re-invent the wheel, but played well within convention defying techniques of the classic sitcom. It broke some mandates and followed others religiously. But most importantly (with the exception of some out-of-place cartoon moments) the show felt truly real and had an undeniable sweetness to the relationship. One thing is for sure, with the exception of that aforementioned hole in the middle of the series, it is always good for a laugh.
* * * ½ / 5
But Now 11 years later they bring it back, only to wish away the last 11 years. Did they freshen it up? NOPE they just went into a tailspin of Trump bashing one liners. To the point you can't even call then jokes. Just "drive by" Gay Stereotypes and overdone president bashing.
If you were a fan before, re-watch the old episodes. And if you the Other half of the country tell the producers how much you don't care for their political "humor" by taking your business elsewhere.
Unfortunately, I took this show off my DVR list after the first episode.
On a side note, I am very disgusted and disappointed in Debra Messing and Eric McCormack in their public lack of respect for the elected leader of our country. I am not Trumps biggest fan either, but there is a level of respect needed for the leaders of our country whether we approve of them of not. Very classless
I asked myself What's the idea of Will and Grace? Some might say they end up living together like in marriage but maybe it's about showing people that the word FAMILY can have another meaning. The whole idea of family is shown differently.
From the beginning, there's Grace, who's not able to think for herself and to make her own decisions. During the seasons she kinda tries to learn that. Or she doesn't try at all. Her problems are so easy to solve for Will, who at the beginning doesn't have it's own problems. Sometimes, we get the idea that he doesn't have a life at all. During the seasons, we see them both dating people and getting involved with others, but it all ends the same way. They get single again, both of them. And then they try on like in real life. One moment you think to yourself why do they even try?
During the whole show, you hear things like: "I can't do this without you " "I need you", they count on each other, they lean on each other. Those things sound sweet. They just sound sweet. If you wish to avoid loneliness, get used to being alone. If you wish to avoid pain, get used to control your emotions. Leaning is close to depending. Depending is bad even if you depend on the person you love most, the one who would (probably) never hurt you, the one who is perfect for you, still you shouldn't depend.
I recognize a lot of Will's and Grace's features in my friends. That are the features that are laughed at in this sitcom. They are shallow, materialistic, jealous, possessive, even narrow-minded at one point. While sticking to each other, of course it's hard to make a healthy connection to someone else. What will Will think of Grace's boyfriend, and does Grace like his this thing appear as the main topic in this show. Of course, we all laugh about that, but if you think about it - it's so wrong. And then it turns out that the first impression seems to be wrong, and they all make such a drama about that. People should not be like that. The audience can learn lots of thing from this show such as don't be like that. It's funny overall, but see, look at them it sometimes looks so tempting and sweet to live with your best friend, to depend, even to 'stick' to each other. Well, it's not sweet at all. Get independent once you find a really good friend and the things between you are clear, you both know how you feel about each other, and you both know that you love the other one don't be like Will and Grace. They are lovable, yes, for example I sometimes like Grace so much, I wish I was in Will's shoes (although I don't like Prada) but I don't want to be someone's mom, dad or what ever. BEST FRIENDS should help the other one in improving him/herself as a person. They should be strict to each other, because that's the only way of stopping your best friend from repeating the same mistakes in life.
When I started to watch the 1st season of Will and Grace I was amazed. I said to myself I wanna live like that. I want someone to lean on, to count on all day and night, to call up in the night if I can't sleep from all the problems I have... Years went by and I saw how wrong that is. If I ever lived like that, I would feel like standing in one place and not moving at all. And beside me, my best friend, would be doing the same. Repeating mistakes. No. Never. I have really good friends, girls, but we're not like Will and Grace. OK, they might be like Grace, but when I notice that, I have reactions like "Stop being like that - pathetic, depending, weak. Get strong and I'm here to help you. Get secure in my love for you and the strong friendship we have. And now let's fix you, let's fix me let's deal with life and the problems we all have. Let's be better, stronger."
I know it's just a TV Show created for the audience, after they own needs, but still it's there, with all the stories we have seen, with all emotions the characters went through, with all emotions we went through. We are here, watching them, laughing and of course thinking. Let's be better, stronger.
I have several gay friends and they don't like this show either, so I don't want to be told that I "don't get it." I get it fully...I just don't like it.
Someone please tell me what exactly is supposed to be funny about this show? I tried to like it, I looked at it from every possible angle, and guess what I still don't like it. Four irritating friends live their lives and loves in New York City. Two of them happen to be gay, there's (Jewish) Grace, and Karen, the scenery chewing drunk with a voice that would shame Mariah Carey.
I thought the arrival of Harry Connick Jr. would be a redemption for this show (it wasn't, shame on you Harry!) He's much capable of playing likable and appealing characters, but here he's just picking up a paycheck, and there's nothing likable about him. You want to slap him stupid, His character goes from annoying to loathsome and gets tired real fast.
Does anyone in wardrobe EVER require Debra Messing to wear a bra? I couldn't help but notice in several episodes that certain parts of her upper anatomy plainly visible and outlined in their full glory. Is this appealing to anyone? I'd be embarrassed to be seen this many times like that. At least turn down the set's air conditioning then.
Karen grates on your nerves, and the whole pill popping/alcoholic/bi-sexual thing got real tired real fast. You actually start to hopes she slips into some downer coma after a while. That way you won't have to hear her high pitched whining, complaining, bragging, whatever.
Will is devoid of any kind of personality what-so-ever, enough said.
The only one I ever found remotely funny was Jack. Perhaps it's how high strung he is, or just the "sponateity", who knows, he wasn't that bad.
The list of endless A list stars that make appearances on this show surprises me though. Minnie Driver? (no Minnie! Back away!), Madonna, Demi Moore (OK, I can see those two, they have no acting talent at all so who cares. Stick with the singing Madonna.)
This show is painful to watch and you'll actually be mad at yourself for spending that much time out of your day on it. I can't understand why this show lasted as long as it did. I can't say specifically one demographic should be insulted, this show is insulting to everyone!
The first few seasons, like so many sitcoms, is where you'll find the best bits. Inevitably the writers ran out of decent story lines that could feasibly happen, and instead started writing stories about what 'might' happen. There were also a lot of guest stars parachuted in towards the end too, with mixed results.
There's talk at the time of me writing this about the show coming back. I'd say leave it where it is, it had its day. But TV execs will probably only see a cash cow they feel could be milked more.