This doesn’t feel like it will be a popular opinion, and I am always concerned with how popular my ideas are (no, wait, I meant I am NEVER concerned with that). I watched the new Will & Grace and was not overwhelmed. I wanted to be. Society has changed in 11 years (as evidently did Debra Messing’s figure), and Sean Hayes & Megan Mullally’s lines have not. The bitchy, screaming queen dialogue & shallow gold digger persona just seems a little stale & dated in context with today’s politically correct reality (for a sitcom).
How NOT to Create a Classic
A little Trump-bashing goes a long way, and they aired a whole show of it. The LGBTQ community is anti-Trump? Really? We. Are. So. Shocked. (That is my sarcastic voice.) There is no question the president provides a lot of fodder for the jokes, but focusing scripts on a current event is a sure way to kill the shelf life of any series. M.A.S.H. is a classic (lasting quite a while) because it was original and uniquely humorous about different themes or concepts, not about any one particular event happening in the 80’s. If the goal of Will & Grace is to fill a TV time slot that sells advertising today, they nailed it. If the goal is creating cutting edge, intelligent, GREAT humor that will be classical years from now on a show that runs for a long time, not so much. For any legacy impaired showrunners, syndication means long-term money.
Timelessness. Let it sink in.
Will & Grace was original and unique back in the day. The show was outrageous and cutting edge. Gay characters were not as regularly portrayed as they are today. Now it just seems like a network is rolling out an old hit because it made money ten years ago and instead of being controversial or edgy, trotting out the same riff as a decade ago. If it was great enough to resurrect, why did they cancel it back then? Jump on the bandwagon much? Dial up the intelligence in the humor on this show. Make it cutting edge or make it go away. At the very least, make it funny.
Ways to make Will & Grace more controversial
Add conflict, increase shock and awe, do the unanticipated. Comedy is about the unexpected or even unpopular.
- Have Will, if not a Trump supporter, be at least open-minded about politics – while not realistic, this is at least controversial and shocking. That will create an opportunity for humorous dialogue between the main characters.
- Have Will not like the gay politician once he meets him in person. Never meet your heroes. Also says something about social media branding and gullibility.
- Use a metaphor in your plot – make the point without being so blatant and on the nose. The writers went for the low-hanging jokes. The best way to alienate the intelligent viewer is to talk down to them. To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt: “Small minds talk about people; average minds talk about events; Great minds discuss ideas & concepts.“
- Add a new character to get with the times – how about an intelligent, grumpy, but well-spoken (probably older African-American male) conservative to play against the main characters’ attitudes – whose primary purpose on the show is to generate some thought-provoking disagreements, or you know… humor. I say male here because Karen Walker’s gold-digging personality overshadows her conservative opinions and is undercut by her friendship with Will and Jack. I say African American because, for a show that is about diverse lifestyle acceptance, it is horribly ‘pale.’ Being right-wing and African American makes the character three-dimensional. Remember John Amos on West Wing? Want to dial up the possibilities? Make him a closet-homophobe. Want to dial it up really? Make him a right-wing, closet-homophobe – in the closet. Subtext. Keep it so subtle that it is NOT obvious. Make it a national debate. Is he or isn’t he? Never give the answer.
Sorry for the long rant, it is possible to make intellgent and entertaining TV. But unless this show goes a little more “Chuck Lorre” and a little less 1990’s Rue Paul, I don’t foresee a long run. Just my opinion, and that being said, it could be completely off-base for anyone else.
About Paul K. Metheney, the Author: Paul was the featured author for dozens of sports magazine articles, has two stories published in a recent anthology, a contract to have two more published in an anthology coming out later this year, is contracted for a collection of his own short stories, and is working on a much-delayed novel or two. Paul has nearly three decades working in advertising design, print, and graphic design. For the last twenty-five years or so, he has been working in the web design, SEO, PPC, social media, and marketing fields, including writing marketing copy for his client's blogs and social media on various subjects. Oh, yeah. He teaches those subjects as well at the local community college. Paul can be reached at his blog on writing, teaching, poker, travel, reviews, and all things politically incorrect at paulmetheney.com, on Twitter, and on Facebook.
Despite a multifaceted nature, Paul is definitely 'what you see is what you get'. No hidden agendas. No having to guess what’s on his mind. He is wide open. Usually TOO wide open if you ask his wife, Melinda. Paul is happily married to his one-time, high school sweetheart, loves riding his Can-Am Spyder motorcycle, sporadically smokes a good cigar, and is an avid poker enthusiast. Paul is owned and cared for by two small Shitzus.
To learn more, visit his web site, dedicated to writing, teaching, poker, reviews, all things politically incorrect, and posts revealing genuine stupidity in the world: PaulMetheney.com or email him at