Wednesday, May 10, 2006

GOODBYE ANASTASIA BEAVERHAUSEN.

I'm sad to see this show go, but I think most would agree it was time.

Will & Grace has had a fantastic eight-year run, and made a difference for probably being the first prominent network sitcom with major gay characters. It has continuously performed very well in the Nielsen ratings, and is a testament to how well most of America received the show. It's pretty safe to say not just gay men watched the show--the ratings were always good enough to prove that the show was lovingly embraced by everyone. It ushered in an era of gay-themed and friendly shows, creating a long lasting and overdue mini-revolution.

And really, the success of this show is due to many factors. I remember watching the very first debut premiere episode back in the Fall of 1998, and being captivated by its tremendously sharp and witty writing. The jokes are very smart, quick, and genuinely very funny. It took a good three episodes to really develop all the characters as we know them today, but once the show took off, it did just that: take off. The director, the masterful James Burrows (a sitcom veteran with shows such as Cheers and Frasier under his belt) has done an outstanding job, as has of course the phenomenal team of writers.

The cast is nothing short of brilliant, and it is the actors who will forever benefit from the success of the program, for they were relative unknowns when the show first began. To see these actors play off each other, as one truly polished theater group is astounding:

-Eric McCormack playing the central character Will Truman. An adorable handsome lawyer who is in love with his best friend Grace, but is too gay to enjoy sex with her. We love Will because he is seemingly perfect, yet obviously flawed and man enough to always admit it.

-The lovable pretty and somewhat selfish Debra Messing as interior designer Grace Adler. A woman who is hopelessly into her best gay friend Will, who has one failed heterosexual relationship after another, is constantly worried about her body image, is gregarious, loves to party, and is the most emotionally sensitive of the whole group.

-Achingly annoying but good-hearted Sean Hayes as Jack McFarland. Many criticized this character at first for being too stereotypically gay, but who could resist laughing at Jack and his many many flaws? Horribly selfish, lazy, confused, lost, promiscuous, without goals, but caring in the end. Will's best gay male friend, and haven't we all had one of these boys in our lives? I know I have, and still do.

-The incomparable and amazing Megan Mullally as the high-pitched drugged out dipsomaniac affluent Karen Walker. She is probably every gay man's favorite character: a woman married into wealth, with a grossly obese husband Stan, who works for Grace just because she needs "something to do", insulting to her maids (especially the hilarious Salvadoran Rosario), bitterly cynical, sarcastic, caustic, rude, obnoxious, egotistical, but highly highly vulnerable and good-natured underneath the very heavy exterior/facade. The best lines always went to her, and to watch her and Sean Hayes in scenes together is one of the main reasons why the show became such an enormous hit. Many claimed, why call it Will & Grace, when it's really The Jack and Karen Show! Almost true, but not quite.

The rest of the supporting cast was always in top shape and many high profile celebrities made cameos or even became regular "regulars" of the show, including: Debbie Reynolds, Eileen Brennan, Harry Connick Jr., Woody Harrelson, Gene Wilder, the late great Gregory Hines, Sandra Bernhard, Rosie O'Donnell, Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Elton John, Madonna, and countless others.

The show was justly rewarded with many Emmy Awards, and the entire main cast of four won their awards and deservedly so.

It will live forever in reruns and on the DVD box sets of course. The last truly great situation comedy of the late nineties, taking place at the very end of the buoyant open-minded Clinton administration when everything seemed possible, when America still had not suffered 9/11--the show itself shined best during its first four seasons, and kinda lost it thereafter, but nonetheless still had some juice from time to time.

At the risk of sounding divisive, there were many fans of that awful Friends show during the same era, but it is Will & Grace that I identified with, that I laughed at, that I enjoyed.

And the rest, is TV history...


*The next-to-last episode of 'Will & Grace' airs this Thursday, May 11 at 8p.m. on NBC.
*The special two-hour finale airs next Thursday, May 18 at 8p.m. on NBC.

7 comments:

Mikey said...

I love W&G Too. Karens the best!!

Marko said...

That was a great post, you really gave a tribute to that show Wat. Im gonna miss it too, it was a very special show that really almost surpassed plain television!

G-Man said...

Hey dude. I've never really been a fan of that show. I was a big fan of Friends when it first came out, but lost interest after about 5 year...not so much in the show, but in sitcoms in general. Will and Grace fell into that. I do agree that Jack and Karen are funny as hell. I guess just like on Friends, these characters become so self-involved that I just can't handle it.

BUT -- I'm not here to dog on one of your favorite shows. Where sitcoms go, it's very well written and funny. I never thought of it in the terms you put it, as a show that came off of the end of the Clinton years, when things were full of optimism. Now, all the shows are either dark crime dramas (all about death and murder) or reality shows (all about greed and sex). The 2000s so far are kind of shitty, when you look at them in those terms. An unjustified war will do that i suppose.

Great post Wil. Regardless of whether or not I can relate to 100% of what your posts are about, you always come up with some great points. You're an excellent writer! What do you do for a living?

The Gay Guru said...

That was some damn good writing, you should send it in to NBC. You gave a great review of a fabulous show, that has been a real milestone in gay television programming. Detractors can say what they may, but I dare them to name any other primetime show featuring two out gay lead characters, stereotypical or not. Love reading you man..keep it up...GG

Bill German said...

Your American Beauty photo is priceless. You just reminded me, how great that movie really was.

sttropezbutler said...

The first time Jack said "girleen" I was hooked.

It tripped up in the last few years, they always do, cause it is about making money in the end...but cheers to W & G and to you for writing such a terrific post!

STB

Darci said...

Hey man...don't diss my FRIENDS! Straight people need to relate, too! ;-)

I am sad to see Will & Grace go as well. If any straight woman can identify with a show (OTHER than Friends), it's this one. As I have three ex-boyfriends that turned out to be gay plus countless Wills and Jacks in my life to this day (and one WIL - see what I did there? HEY-OH!), I loved this show from day one. I have to admit that I haven't been as faithful a viewer the last couple years, but I AM sad to see the show go and will miss yet another great sitcom fading away into television history while unfortunately some stupid reality show takes its place. Let's hope that doesn't happen, but instead another groundbreaking, open-minded, hilarious sitcom is allowed to take W&G's hallowed time slot.