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The cast of Will & Grace says goodbye at the 17th Annual GLAAD Media Awards [ watch it ]


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  > GLAAD's Perspective in 1998

Early reviews, video clips, commentary and more...

On Monday, September 21, 1998 at 9:30 pm — opposite Monday Night Football and Ally McBeal — a groundbreaking comedy debuted on NBC. Daily Variety warned, "don't count on it," the Los Angeles Times proclaimed, "there's something not quite right about this show's approach to homosexuality," and The Philadelphia Inquirer called the show "an amiable half-hour look at four beautiful New Yorkers with good hair, huge apartments, and unsatisfying love lives."

And yet here they are, eight years later.

Will & Grace has proven to be so much more than just "a series about a man and a woman who have no sexual interest in one another" (Daily Variety, September 16, 1998). At the time, the critics were concerned that the sitcom would be another Ellen, a series whose ratings suffered after the central character came out of the closet. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Will & Grace co-creator Max Mutchnick said, "Ellen was about the journey of that character. Ours is the celebration of this relationship. We're in broader, more appealing territory."

It didn't take long for viewers to attach themselves to Will & Grace (and Jack and Karen). By the end of its first year, the show had become one of the most-watched series on TV, landing in the top 20 by season's end.

During Will & Grace's inaugural season it won the People's Choice Award for Favorite New Comedy Series. Upon completion of its second season, in 2000, the show took home the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. In 2002 and 2003, it had more Emmy nominations than any other sitcom. In 2005 Will & Grace was tied as one of the most-nominated series and also scored its highest number of Emmy nominations in a single year with 15. Over the course of the series, all four of the show's actors were rewarded with Emmy statuettes as well. Topping it off, Will & Grace walked away with seven GLAAD Media Awards, two TV Guide Awards, and one Directors Guild Award.

Will & Grace came along at a time when the public was interested and ready for a show about a gay man and his friendship with a straight woman. In the year leading up to its 1998 premiere, there were at least four films featuring stories about straight women and the gay men in their lives: Julia Roberts and Rupert Everett starred in the successful My Best Friend's Wedding; As Good As It Gets paired up Helen Hunt with Greg Kinnear; Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd starred in The Object of My Affection; and Christina Ricci and Lisa Kudrow appeared with Martin Donovan in The Opposite of Sex.

The cultural and political climate certainly has changed since Will & Grace premiered in 1998. Over the past eight years, while anti-gay extremists promoted prejudice and discrimination against LGBT people, Will & Grace introduced gay characters that audiences welcomed into their homes each week — along with one of network television's first gay kisses and discussions of gay parenting, marriage equality and more.

The success of Will & Grace demonstrates that there is an audience hungry for well-told stories about LGBT people and, with its passing, there is room and a demand for television programming that shares our stories on the broadcast networks. At the end of a remarkable eight season run, Will & Grace not only managed to entertain audiences, but it also opened America's hearts and minds.

Related Articles

Television Week - May 22, 2006 (just added)
"Guest commentary: Industry must move to fill Will & Grace void"

USA Today - May 19, 2006
"Will & Grace ends but the pair lives on"

Salon.com - May 19, 2006
"Series wrap-up: Will & Grace"

San Jose Mercury News - May 15, 2006
"Not just a gay show, high-quality comedy opened many hearts"

The Washington Post - May 14, 2006
"Trailblazers? Or just perfecters of the quip?

Boston Globe - May 14, 2006
"Will brought attitude. But more important, it changed ours."

The Arizona Republic - May 14, 2006
"Thank you 'Will,' 'West,' Malcolm'"

The Southern Voice - May 12, 2006
"Groundbreaking sitcom calls it quits after eight years of gay laughs"

Associated Press - May 9, 2006
"Goodnight, Gracie: 'Will & Grace' ends landmark run"

Out in Los Angeles - May 4, 2006
"Will & Grace to end landmark 8-year run"

The Buffalo News - May 4, 2006
"Will & Grace is fading into oblivion"

The Advocate - May 9, 2006
"Eight years of great laughs"

Entertainment Weekly — April 14, 2006
"Gay's Anatomy: The end of Will & Grace
Relive the good times with our A - Z Guide to the fabulously groundbreaking sitcom"

AfterElton.com - September 26, 2005
"Will & Grace: Eight is enough?"

Multi-Media Clips

> NBC The Today Show: May 18, 2006
Katie Couric interviews the cast of Will & Grace on the benefit of the show in promoting tolerance.

> CNN American Morning: May 18, 2006
GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano on the impact and influence of Will and Grace

> GLAAD Media Awards, April 8, 2006
The cast of Will & Grace say goodbye at the 17th Annual GLAAD Media Awards

> CNN Headline News: Showbiz Tonite, April 7, 2006
"The Will & Grace Effect"

Resources

NBC's Will & Grace Final Season
Features episode recaps, interviews, videos and games!

Every episode, seasons 1 - 8
http://www.tv.com/will-and-grace/show/154/episode_listings.html

GLAAD Center for the Study of Media & Society
"Current representations of LGBT people in entertainment television: The case of Will & Grace"

University of Minnesota, Department of Communications Studies
"Can One TV Show Make a Difference? Will & Grace and the Parasocial Contact Hypothesis"

Critique and Commentary from 1998:

"For those who believe that Hollywood's engaging in a conspiracy to 'normalize' a sexual orientation that many Americans still find abhorrent, Will & Grace will look like a candy-coated poison pill. To those who think that Hollywood isn't moving fast enough in offering sexual parity for gays, it may just look like poison. But... there's a large audience out there that's somewhere in the mushy middle, an audience that might be ready to embrace Will & Grace." Ellen Gray, Chicago Tribune - August 6, 1998

"It's a retro sitcom that returns its gay characters to the safe and acceptable territory where they hovered until [Ellen] DeGeneres attempted to set them free. The bottom line for Will & Grace: it's a tease." Ron Miller, San Jose Mercury News - September 7, 1998

"While noting that Will & Grace is clearly NBC's best new comedy isn't saying terribly much, the show does spring out of the box boasting snappy dialogue ... and an agreeably bent sensibility." Daily Variety - September 16, 1998

"[NBC] must be praying ABC's Monday Night Football viewership is exclusively heterosexual. Yes, we have entered the era of sexual orientation-specific counterprogramming." Daily Variety - September 16, 1998

"If Will & Grace can somehow survive a brutal time period opposite football and Ally McBeal, it could grow into a reasonably entertaining little anomaly - that is, a series about a man and a woman who have no sexual interest in one another. But don't bet on it. If it's doomed relationships viewers want, they'll probably opt for Ally." Daily Variety - September 16, 1998

"The characters are productive, well-adjusted men who've accepted their sexuality with apparent ease. No one in the world of Will Truman, lawyer, gives homosexuality a second thought." New York Times - September 20, 1998

"There's something not quite right about this show's approach to homosexuality... It has everything to do with his [Will's] attitude. It approaches asexual, his gayness appearing to exist solely as a device to give him the moral authority to repeatedly ridicule the mincing manner of his bandanna-wearing homosexual friend, Jack (Sean Hayes), without being labeled homophobic." Los Angeles Times - September 21, 1998

"Will boasts a good and largely fresh-faced cast, smart writing and a new-to-TV topic: a loving friendship between a gay man and a straight woman." USA Today - September 21, 1998

"Will & Grace is an amiable half-hour look at four beautiful New Yorkers with good hair, huge apartments, and unsatisfying love lives. It's Friends with a much-publicized twist: best friends and roomies Will and Grace will never, ever be an item because he's gay! She's straight!" The Philadelphia Inquirer -- December 14, 1998

On Will:

Los Angeles Times - May 14, 2006
"He'll Take Manhattan" - Interview with Eric McCormack

"The relationship between Will & Grace seems to have been inspired by the Julia Roberts-Rupert Everett bond in My Best Friend's Wedding. But they don't seem to want Will to be too gay, so he ends up coming off as blandly asexual, her eunuch." Newsweek - September 14, 1998

"Will is an updated version of the debonair 'confirmed bachelor' character usually played with aloof warmth by Cary Grant or Rock Hudson, actors whose off-screen lives (coincidentally?) were teeming with sexual complications." New York Times - September 20, 1998

"If we opened with two men in bed kissing we'd be dead in the water. At the same time, if we slowly phase that out and Will becomes this asexual creature, we're also dead.... I'm sure down the road if this attractive gay lawyer in Manhattan can't get a date in four seasons someone's going to go, 'Wait a minute, whose life is this, this is nobody we know.' The obvious plot, which I think they're all thinking about is that we [Will and Grace] fall for the same guy." - Eric McCormack in PlanetOut - September 21, 1998

"'Will Will ever have an onscreen kiss?' was all ten of the top ten questions critics had about the show. Openly gay co-producer Max Mutchnick said, 'There have been no absolutes. Everyone who is involved with the show has just said, 'Write it honestly.'" PlanetOut - September 21, 1998

"Eventually, it also would be nice to see Will have a full life of his own, and not just serve as a love-life adviser to Grace and Jack. I know it won't happen soon; NBC is so skittish about the so-called Ellen "gay show" stigma, it's gone to Herculean lengths to avoid mentioning Will's sexuality. But a grace period can only last so long." USA Today - September 21, 1998

On Jack:

Los Angeles Times - May 15, 2006
"Will & Grace's' Jack hits the road

"Before we congratulate creator/executive producers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick (who also wrote the premiere script) for their rejection of tired gay clichés, there is the matter of Jack McFarland, Will's flamboyant, outrageous, pithy and funny gay friend." Daily Variety - September 16, 1998

"Jack's silly enough that not even gay watchdog group GLAAD nitpicks the stereotyping. Says exec director Joan Garry: 'Exaggeration comes with the comic territory of a sitcom.'" Entertainment Weekly - October 23, 1998

"Jack McFarland, the flamboyant, preening, perpetually underemployed, so-gay-even-your-dog-can tell... Jack is out, proud, and in your face." The Philadelphia Inquirer -- December 14, 1998

GLAAD's Perspective in 1998:

"The show is a wonderful representation of a gay man's life regardless of whether he's in a relationship in that very moment. I think it's important that American audiences realize that lesbians and gay men are not simply all about sexual situations." William Horn, Assistant Entertainment Media Director, GLAAD in Boston Herald - August 26, 1998

"The show has to be funny and gain an audience first. If you shove overt gayness down their throat, you're going to alienate a lot of non-gay audience members. I think we're going to see Will being more 'gay' after the audience accepts Will for who he is. The show is called Will & Grace, not Will and the Men He Dates, or Will and His Gay Life." - Scott Seomin, Entertainment Media Director, GLAAD in Bent — December 1998

"First of all, it's funny, and that's what a sitcom is supposed to be. What's refreshing about Will & Grace is that it's a show about being out rather than coming out." Scott Seomin, Entertainment Media Director, GLAAD in Los Angeles Times - December 15, 1998

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