In 1998 the world was introduced to a show that changed opinions on a previously avoided topic. No, not a jazzy piano theme-tune, but being gay. This show, although initially controversial, ran for nearly 200 episodes, won 16 Emmy awards, and made stars of it’s incredibly talented cast. It is of course Will and Grace. And it’s back!
This September, Jack, Karen, Will, and Grace will be back in our living rooms. And I can’t help but feel that this is the right time. When the show originally aired, although just 20 years ago, gay marriage wasn’t legal in any states in the US, it certainly wasn’t legal in the UK, and the perception of gay men and women was not wholly what one might call “encouraging”. Since that time we have come leaps and bounds in the constant endeavour for more understanding and protection of this vulnerable group of our society. However, with the now lurking dark cloud of the Oval Office Orangutan looking to withdraw key protections from us, the future is uncertain.
The same could’ve been said back when the show was airing. Just a few years into it’s running, the States were under a republican government, and perceptions of the LGBT community were not good. Actually it was about as good as perceptions of Republicans are now. What Will & Grace did could not have been predicted. This humble sit-com, through comedy and cleverness, exposed people to gay relationships, culture, and dynamics in a way which had never been done before. It showed us for what we are. People. People with jobs, friends, insecurities, and ambitions. Yes, it poked fun at certain aspects of gay life, but we’re allowed to do that!
But because of this, the show has been credited with improving public opinion of LGBT people and even U.S. Vice President Joe Biden commented during his term that the show “Did more to educate the American public… than almost anything anybody has ever done so far”. Take that, Madonna! (Well, Madonna did have a cameo in the show, so I guess she can take some credit).
But why was this show so popular? I have my opinions, which if you’ve read this far you might actually want to hear.
I would argue that this show has some of the best wit that modern television has seen. And it would have to, as pretty much every scene was filmed in front of a live studio audience. If a line didn’t land well, the writers were there to change it straight away. Well, maybe straight isn’t the right word to use there…
From a proud lawyer, to a jewish interior designer, to a billionaire socialite and a failing actor, and a maid from El Salvador that no-one could get enough of, the characters on the show span across many spectrums of life and personality. The dynamic that the actors created through their characters is truly astonishing and made us fall for them season after season after season. Like when Krispy Creme bring out a new flavour every Halloween.
Debra Messing, Eric Mccormack, Sean Hayes, and Megan Mullaly became household names because of the show. And for good reason; they’re amazing actors. You can tell so blatantly by their performances that rather than just learn lines and take direction, they challenge writers and blocking to create the best performance that they can. I mean, c’mon, when you’re pouring a glass of wine at home do you stick to the “recommended amount”? Nooo, you fill it to the rim and end up buying plastic jewellery on late night shopping channels.
The plot of W&G, though dipping and diving at times to new reaches, remained focussed around the exaggerated everyday. Work, friends, family, sex, and home life. This was a great way of eliminating any “token gay” storyline, normalising LGBT people. Well, as normal as can be in New York City, I suppose. They have their own rules.
I touched upon this briefly before. The show boasted some of the best cameos I have ever seen. Glenn Close, Matt Damon, Madonna, Elton John, Cher, Debbie Reynolds, Tim Curry, Ellen DeGeneres, Woody Harrelson, and countless more. We all know the power that the Hollywood elite have, and seeing them supporting a progressive show like this can do wonders. What cameos might we see in this new season? My money’s on Gaga. I think we can rule out Sean Spicer, though… Though I hear he is looking for employment now.
Although W&G was a comedy, boy did it know how to make you not want to look. Some of the fights, arguments, and fallouts in the show are so well done, you’d never put them in a sit-com. But it worked, and added more and more depth to the characters and their lives.
I know that we can expect to see all this and much more in the new season. Rather than a television comeback, it’ll feel like getting together with old friends again. It’ll be funny, relevant, and even now in 2017 I believe it will continue to push barriers and change perceptions.
Oh, and there’ll be plenty of jokes about Debra Messing’s boobs. It wouldn’t be Will & Grace without them.
The jokes, I mean…