Will, Grace, and other attributes

I really ought to go to sleep, but wanted to note that Kam and I found the first several episodes of Will & Grace at the video store tonight, and very much enjoyed them. Kam had seen several episodes from later in the series; I hadn't ever seen it at all, but had heard a lot about it.

Some of the jokes are obvious; some seem a little dumb to me; some rely heavily on pop culture that I'm entirely unfamiliar with. But many of them are very funny. The writing is largely really solid, and the actors are mostly great; their delivery and timing is usually excellent, and I like the way the camera sometimes lingers for a few seconds after what might otherwise have been the end of a scene, letting us see a character's reaction.

I don't think I've been this charmed by a TV show since the episodes of Mad About You that I saw a few years back. I like characters who clearly care a lot about each other, even if they're a little codependent sometimes. And I like the supporting cast of W & G as well; in particular, the Texan and Karen seem nicely unflappable, completely themselves, unfazed by any of the currents that eddy around them.

The show relies very heavily on stereotypes, but it's so charming and the characters are (by and large) so likeable that the stereotypes don't bother me. And I like that it pokes gentle fun at the stereotypes, too; it has a sense of play. I get the impression (though this could be an illusion) that everyone involved is having fun.

But just to sign off with a little anti-stereotyping, I wanted to point to a Washington Post article titled "Not All of Us Can Accessorize," a gay man's only semi-serious lament that Queer Eye for the Straight Guy gives the impression that all gay men are as fabulous as the guys on the show, whereas in reality some of them are, well, slobs. "Have I, at any time in the last decade, changed the cat litter that is even now stinging my nostrils with its effluvium? No indeed."

2 Responses to “Will, Grace, and other attributes”

  1. Heather Shaw

    I love me some Will and Grace! We started watching when they put W&G in the old Simpsons timeslot (we’d seen all the old Simpsons a million times each anyway) and it’s been really fun. Karen and Jack are the real stars, though — they get all the good lines and hardly ever have to go through all the process-y conversations and moralizing that W&G go through at the end of nearly every episode.

    Who’s the Texan?

  2. Jed

    The Texan is Harlin Polk, who in the early episodes was the only one of Will’s clients we saw. I gather he left the show after the first season, which is too bad, ’cause I liked him.

    Jack kinda grates on me, at least so far. But that could change.

    I forgot to say one of the things that I thought was most interesting about the show’s premise. It’s become almost a cliche in the past ten years or so in romantic comedies to have the female lead’s best friend be a gay man; that lets him be handsome and charming and witty and a strong shoulder to lean on and so on without any danger of the viewer thinking “Why doesn’t the leading man go for the cute best friend instead of the whiny leading woman?” (As I used to think back in the old days when the best friend was always another straight woman.) (And the gay best friend can be entirely asexual without anyone caring, because after all, I suspect most mainstream movie audiences would prefer gay guys in movies to be celibate.) But in those movies, he’s always a sidekick; the story belongs to the leading woman. In Will & Grace, the story belongs to both of them. There’s still a fair tad bit of that sidekick dynamic—she’s the romantic needy one, he’s (so far) not romantically attached and unlikely to ever be—but at least it gives the impression that he has a life of his own, and doesn’t exist solely in order to prop up the straight woman.

    Heh—now I want to see a variant on this setup in which the woman is also queer.

    I find myself once again wishing it were possible to discuss My Best Friend’s Wedding without gigantic spoilers for the ending. But since it isn’t, I’ll stop here.


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