HONEY, PASS THE TORCH!
Will & Grace is back? Question mark because since the 2016 election everything feels like a lie. I'm still waiting to have a doctor wake me up from the events of November 8, 2016, but alas here we are back in New York City with these clowns. When Will, Grace, Jack, and Karen came back for a 2016 get out the vote promo it was exciting and fun, but now we're saddled with a 2017 show revival ... one that has already been renewed for a second season ... and I ain't so sure friends.
When Will & Grace premiered on September 21, 1998 I was studying theatre at the University of Arkansas. You might remember that 1998 was a not so gay friendly time. We were still in the fall out of Ellen Degeneres coming out of the closet way back then. You might also know that Arkansas is a southern state, and the south is not necessarily kind to those of us who might not be a white and/or straight male. I was in the very liberal bubble of college and the super ultra magic bubble of the theatre department. I was out to my friends at school, but heavily ensconced in the joys of code switching. Being gay felt fresh, new, and subversive, like an edgy hair cut, but we knew there were boundaries to our freedom.
Seeing gay people on TV was transformative for me. Is there a bigger word than transformative? Earth shattering? Mind blowing? It was huge. Big. The biggest thing. Massive. It might sound silly to say it ... but it was life changing. These weren't just gay people we were watching. They were somewhat successful gay people. Will is a wealthy lawyer. He might never have had a boyfriend for very long but he held a job. Way back in the 90s I wasn't so sure that being a gay person included something like a steady paycheck. Even bigger than that? These gay people were grownups with seemingly well developed lives, however silly, and they had friends. THESE GAY PEOPLE WERE HAPPY!
NONE OF THEM WERE DYING OF AIDS.
I needed Will & Grace. We all did. It changed how gay people were seen. It made us, well, SEEN. It was at least partially responsible for bringing gayness to the national conversation and helped to slowly turn us from freaks to real live human people. I loved Will & Grace when it was on TV originally, even if it meant that nearly every single gay friendly straight person needed to tell me that I reminded them of Jack ... while throwing their hands up by their face and saying "JUST JACK."
Flash forward to today ... we're living in the world Will & Grace helped to deliver. I don't know that many queer kids grow up with the same doubts and self hatred I did. There is an entire spectrum of sexuality and gender and queerness. Young queer people dazzle me on the regular with their healthy self awareness and encyclopedic knowledge of sexuality. I know there are still struggles, but the world has progressed a bit. We have grown.
Our growth makes me unsure that there's a place for our friends Will & Grace anymore. Yes the show is funny, and last night's premiere was enjoyable. I love those people. It was fun seeing them clown around. It was also sorta sad.
First ... do people still watch sit-coms? That laugh track was killing me. It sounded like something from the history channel. Also as fun as it was seeing them I don't know that I need to see them all the time once a week for the next few months. AND! I know you're not supposed to talk about the age and appearance of people but YOU'RE ON MY TELEVISION I HAVE TO LOOK AT YOU. They're clearly older and it feels like we taught our grandma new hip words to use in conversation. Last night at one paint Grace said WOKE and I nearly died. Not because it was funny, but because these jerks still don't have any friends of color 20 years later.
As funny and fun as Will & Grace is, and as much as I enjoy a trip down nostalgia boulevard this experiment doesn't really serve anyone. It feels like a sad money making ploy from NBC. Were Will, Grace, Karen & Jack cryogenically frozen and suddenly thawed and taught a new vocab for our pleasure? No, thanks! If I have to suffer through Grace talking about RuPaul's Drag Race or Karen learning about trans people I might get in a bell tower. Can somebody please find the Will & Grace of the new generation? We need a funny show that is gay and queer and trans and bi and whatever else with people who aren't all white white white. This was fun, but it's time to pass the torch!