On Thursday, Will & Grace paid tribute to Madonna and gave her the sort of recognition she deserves — well, sort of. To be sure, the episode “Who’s Your Daddy,” which earned great reviews from Entertainment Weekly and Vulture, is, in general, a winner. The episode correctly lampoons how LGBT millennials don’t appreciate what the LGBT generation before them did to guarantee their rights and freedoms.
One of the most hilarious parts of the episode is when Will tells his 23-year-old date Blake how hard it was coming out, and it caused his mom to cry and dad to drink. Blake claims his “coming out” (when he was only eight) was difficult because both his divorced parents threw a coming out party on the same weekend.
But it all really hits the fan when Blake refers to Madonna as “tired,” not realizing how much she has done for gay rights at a time when nobody else would touch the issue. Even Jack tells Will that he should hit Blake over the head with a VHS copy of Evita.
In a later scene, Will finally confronts Blake about his hatred towards Madonna, but in a way that completely goes against the message the episode is trying to convey.
“Speaking of gay dinosaurs, let’s talk Madonna. Sure, so now she’s got the face of Baby June and the body of Iggy Pop, but that ripped 60-year-old was there for us like nobody else.”
Sure, this is a comedic show. And Madonna jokes, which can be funny, are as much of an American tradition as baseball games and Thanksgiving. But what was the point of throwing in an unfunny joke about Madonna’s age, body, and face when trying to make a point at how important she has been to the gay rights movement? It absolutely failed, especially since many young LGBT millennials constantly bully Madonna for these same things. The joke gives power to their hypocritical bullying of Madonna. Certainly, Twitter praised the joke more than anything else.
Somebody on this author’s Facebook feed said it would be similar if Black-ish did a tribute to Barack Obama, where they make fun of his birth certificate and other things that Obama’s enemies love to hear about. This isn’t an exact comparison, but it parallels how Will & Grace destroyed their Madonna tribute by failing to be funny and giving more power to Madonna’s haters than Madonna herself.
What’s even worse about this is that all of the characters on Will & Grace are dealing with age issues. The episode itself not only shows the characters struggling with the way they are perceived by their ages, but is sympathetic to them as well. Why couldn’t they be sympathetic to Madonna, who has been bashed for not “acting her age” more than any other entertainer in recent history?
While it’s true that the episode “Who’s Your Daddy” was a major hit, it was also one with a major error. Let’s hope Will & Grace avoids this type of hypocrisy in the future.
[Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]