It’s a tasteless comparison that normally doesn’t belong in journalism. However, Will & Grace is like the old dog you love to death but can’t admit that it’s time. You start to wonder if keeping the dog alive is more about you than the dog. Even though it’s a horrible comparison, it’s the one that fits Will & Grace, one of the most revolutionary sitcoms of the past 50 years, the most right now.
One of the problems is that in the aftermath of #MeToo, the jokes and storylines don’t shine. First, there’s the sexual harassment of Grace’s new Puerto Rican assistant. Another example occurs in the episode that “pays tribute” to gay icon Madonna. The characters, who are dealing with age issues, age and body shame their idol, comparing her to Baby Jane and Iggy Pop. In the 2000s, that would have been funny. Just five years ago, that would have been hilarious. But the new women’s movement has made us realize how body-shaming and age-shaming have historically hurt women, especially when their male counterparts don’t have to deal with it.
Another more obvious problem is the canned laughter. SheKnows perfectly summarizes this annoyance.
“A major factor in my dislike for this revival is actually the fact that there’s a strong ‘We filmed this in front of a studio audience’ vibe to it. The laughter is too loud and forced.”
Author Allie Gemmill adds that the pause for a punch line to wash over is unbearable and that the performances now feel even faker. And Gemmill gets into the biggest problem with the show — the writing, storylines, and especially, the acting,
Debra Messing (Grace), Eric McCormack (Will), and Sean Hayes (Jack) show absolutely no joy in recreating their roles this time around; all of their actions and motions are forced. The biggest example is seen during the episode “Who’s Your Daddy,” when Sean Hayes unfortunately tries his hand at slapstick comedy when pretending to be much younger.
All of Hayes’ scenes in this episode have the yearning of Tootsie but come across as more influenced by Howard the Duck. In the same episode, Eric McCormack tries to play the more rational daddy and makes some good points when telling his young date how his generation doesn’t appreciate what came before. However, at the same time, McCormack comes across as extremely bored and distant. It wouldn’t be a surprise to later hear that McCormack was whispering “Get me off this show!” during these scenes.
The one actress who isn’t just a former shadow of her old self is Megan Mullally, who plays Karen Walker. She’s still feisty, annoying, and lovable at the same time. This is especially noticeable during the episode “Rosario’s Quinceanera,” when Will tells her that she needs to start showing up on time. Her laughter and expression are real, but the weight of the fake and forced reactions from the rest of the cast bring her moment down.
As Variety reported last month, the ratings for Will & Grace have become dismal. However, the ratings have been decent enough before January to keep the show going. But, at what cost? Will & Grace may be making money for advertisers, but the legacy of this once impeccable show is being destroyed.