Will & Grace

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Will & Grace TV Poster Image
Popular with kids
Fun show about a strong friendship; rude jokes, sex, pills.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 13 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Plenty of petty behavior on display -- not to mention some stereotyping and other iffy choices -- but the show also emphasizes the importance of unconditional friendship. Karen, Jack, Will, and Grace are all dear friends who are there for each other when it counts. They do mock and tease each other incessantly, though. At various times, Will calls Jack "ridiculous" while Jack calls him "a sad middle-aged lady." Other jokes target sensitive/mature topics (sex, politics) and sometimes "punch down": gags about older people, women, unattractive people -- like one line in which Madonna is said to have "the face of Baby Jane and the body of Iggy Pop." 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Will and Jack present portraits of self-actualized proud gay men even if they sometimes speak and act in stereotypical ways; LGBTQ issues are discussed frequently and prominently: ageism, civil rights, oppression. As Will tells a younger man who's blasé about gay rights, "The minute we forget what it took to get here is the moment it could all go away." On the other hand, both Will and Jack (and, for that matter, Grace) are perpetually single and searching for love, or at least sex, which some viewers may view as less than positive. 

Violence

Some pratfalls and slapstick humor.

Sex

Frequent jokes about sex, casual sex, body parts, different types of sex. A sampling: "Grindr has gotten so skanky, I feel like I could get finger herpes just from scrolling." "Everybody knows the Secret Service is all gay." "Did you get serviced?" While brandishing a syringe full of Botox: "Let's turn those old man balls into little white marbles." Expect same-sex and opposite-sex kissing, dating, "hooking up," and lots of talk about all of this. 

Language

Words like "bitch" and "ass" are commonplace. Infrequent cursing and language includes "damn," "hell," "fart," "c--k," "balls." 

Consumerism

Karen in particular enjoys the finer things in life, from the best clothes to the best champagne -- many brands are mentioned. All the main cast are financially well-off. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Prescription drug abuse is portrayed as humorous; one of the supporting characters is always drinking or taking pills.

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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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCharles S. January 29, 2018

Don't let your kids watch this alone

Children watching this should have adult supervision because of the adult innuendos and sexual situations, promiscuity and acceptance of the alcoholism as perfe... Continue reading
Adult Written bytoomuchstuff November 7, 2017

Why did they have to make a joke about abortion?

I would not let me children watch this show, but I have to admit it was a guilty pleasure for me. The jokes are fast and funny. Unfortunately, "Jack... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byDogcat December 21, 2019

Will and Grace

This show is GARBAGE!
Teen, 13 years old Written byageratings October 28, 2017

hilarious

This show is awesome, and hilarious. There is lots of sexual innuendo, and a tiny bit of cursing. Most of the jokes will go right over young teen, and tweens he... Continue reading

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?

  • How do the characters in Will & Grace demonstrate empathy and integrity? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Character Strengths

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