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Will & Grace
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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Will & Grace is a popular Manhattan-set sitcom about best friends. Showcasing the adventures of these long-term roommates who support and care for each other, the show also presents a portrait of proud (if sometimes stereotypical) gay men who are accepted by friends, family, and professional colleagues. Will and Jack are perpetually single and looking; there are many jokes about being "serviced," "cruising," and "hooking up" as well as same- and opposite-sex kissing, dating, and references to sex. Jokes also target sensitive topics such as ageism and politics -- Will, Jack, and Grace are liberals, Karen is a conservative -- to relationships and religion. Cursing and language is infrequent but can be rude: "damn," "hell," "fart," "c--k," "balls." Karen drinks and abuses prescription pills; the show seems to find this funny and frequent jokes target her substance abuse habits. Fans of the show won't be disappointed with the 2017 return of the series -- it's got the same vibe and is a sparkling visit with old friends.
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What's the story?
WILL & GRACE -- one of the longest-running shows on network television -- is a humorous take on the life of a gay New York City man and his straight female roommate/best friend, following them through their relationship successes and, more often, failures. Will (Eric McCormack) and Grace (Debra Messing) have been friends since college, when they dated briefly before Will came out of the closet. Ever since, they've been best friends, eventually becoming roommates as well. The rest of the gang is rounded out by Will's other best friend, Jack (Sean Hayes), an aspiring entertainer who's also gay, and Grace's pill-popping, wisecracking assistant/close friend Karen (Megan Mullally), a Manhattan socialite who has a prescription drug habit and spends most of each episode ragging on her friends in a seemingly unfriendly manner. (In almost every episode, though, she has a chance to redeem herself by doing a good deed for one of her friends.) The gang's still together and up to their same old tricks in the 2017 reboot, which is more like a continuation of the original series.
Is it any good?
What sets this show apart from its not-so-funny sitcom counterparts -- and ended up keeping it on the air for so many years -- is its cutting humor. Pop-culture references fly fast and furiously, and the characters exchange witty repartee effortlessly. Watching the original series or its reboot, viewers will definitely feel the same '90s vibe; as on similar shows like Friends and Seinfeld, the live studio audience cackles every few seconds, characters wear cocktail-party clothes to hang out at home, and no one ever locks their front door (the better for actors to make surprise entrances!). The plotlines, too, seem designed to fit into a 250-character summary in TV Guide: Karen gets Grace a job decorating the Oval Office -- antics ensue! Or, Jack and Will try to date 20-somethings -- hilarity ensues!
All that isn't to say that the show is bad, it's just a throwback. Creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan have a way with a wisecrack, cramming in a dizzying array of pop-culture references from Patty Hearst to the board game Clue. "I hate when bad guys are handsome, like Scar in Lion King," muses Grace about a rival. This show is exactly as witty and charming as it was when it originally aired -- whether that's a good or bad thing is up to you.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the world has changed since the show's original run. Is it more accepting? Less accepting?
Is it OK for the show's homosexual characters to make jokes that poke fun at homosexuality? Why or why not? Do any of the characters perpetuate homosexual stereotypes? How? Do any dispel stereotypes?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.