Thursday, December 16, 2010
Will & Grace
Will & Grace; Comedy series, USA, 1998-2006; D: James Burrows, S: Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes, Megan Mullally, Shelley Morrison
"You're so gay you're Marvin Gaye!" With that sentence, lawyer Will Truman finally admitted to himself that he is attracted to men, even though he was in a relationship with Grace Adler when they were younger. The two of them still remained friends and occasionally shared an apartment in New York. Will's former lover, Jack MacFarlane, is an aspiring gay actor with a shrill attitude who often drops by at his place, often to tell a joke about lesbians. Grace works as a decorator while her assistant is the lazy Karen, wife of a tycoon. After numerous misadventures, Grace thinks she found the love of her life, Leo. However, they split up. In the end, Will and Grace's friendship ends, but their kids fall in love.
In one scene, just after his performance on stage, Jack asks Karen: "Did you like my penis monologues?", upon which she replies with: "Nah, I'm not such a big fan of ventriloquism". In another scene, Will is sitting naked on the couch, reading a book that just about cowers his genitals; just then, Grace suddenly enters his apartment and asks: "Couldn't you just buy a bookmark?" These are just two examples of uncontrollable, untrammelled, explosive hilariousness that simply cannot be ignored - it's so contagious, once the viewers are engaged, they get addicted. Nominated for a Golden Globe in five categories and honored with a 3rd place by the TV ratings in 2000, "Will & Grace" is a fun comedy series that tackles the gay topic in an unobtrusive and natural way, even when spoofing its cliches. This is the show "Ellen" should have been: most of the praise goes to the inspiring director James Burrows who excellently knows how to extract style even from movements or small gestures of the actors. Rarely do you get a series that works with young artists and immediately gives four lifetime roles for its four main actors. A lot of credit should also be given to writers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, who wrote some insanely good dialogues, lines so funny and stimulative they seem like music to ears of a comedy fan: in one episode, for instance, Karen reads some magazine and says out loud: "Oh Minnie Driver, who ever told you, you could pull off a leather jumpsuit?" (though Driver did eventually have a small role in the series later on).
In another, Karen talks with a middle-aged lesbian and says: "Honey, we are all lesbians when the right man isn't around", and she even calls the short Leslie "Seed of Chucky". These are all just small examples of sizzling lines in the series, while actors Eric McCromack, Debra Messing and Megan Mullally are excellent, with Sean Hayes being very good, though his character Jack may not be for everyone's taste due to his often too caricature nature and squeaky voice. Some celebrity cameos in the series were surprisingly refreshing, like the one by Woody Harrelson, but with time too many cameos started to seem contrived, unnecessary and lax, many making no sense - it is difficult to believe, but the writers didn't even manage to create anything more than a decent role for Sandra Bernhard - how can you miss the potentials of her cult charisma? Likewise, "Will & Grace" started to lose steam as the show progressed, which is why the last two seasons were routine, pointless, empty and an unworthy farewell to the show. Still, in its best days, this was an unbelievably funny show, while it even managed to insert a substantial amount of emotional care for its characters, especially in the caring friendship between the two title protagonists (i.e. in episode "AI - Artificial Insemination", Grace decided to sleep with gay Will in order to have a baby with him, much to his discomfort).