“Sweatshop Annie & the Annoying Baby Shower”
Posted by Sarah
We’re hitting the home stretch of this inaugural season of the revival. With three episodes left until hiatus, I was thinking that if anything big was going to happen (Bobbi Adler tribute episode notwithstanding; it’s coming soon and I know I won’t be able to handle it), it would happen in the last episode. You know, maybe a little cliffhanger-y thing if they’re feeling it, because they know they have another season to go and they can totally do it without backlash. But what the actual hell do I know about the structure of a television season, because this show just went and teased the return of Michael. Yeah…THAT Michael. Seven years, let’s bring Will to a cabin in Vermont during what would have been their anniversary, “I haven’t been able to have a good relationship since Michael” Michael.
You play dirty, show. And I like it a lot.
Of course, this is one of the major takeaways of the episode, but these thirty minutes gave us so much more. We’ve got very questionable childcare at the hands of (who else?) everyone’s favorite intoxicated socialite. We’ve got a diva’s triumphant return to the show. We’ve got my new favorite trio ever. And we’ve got a pretty important reminder that no source of happiness is a one-size-fits-all situation. I love the possibilities of bringing Michael into the 2018 fold, I love the message Grace gave us at the end of this baby shower, and I love an episode title that automatically gives me the structure for my recap, so without further ado…
Honestly, I have been so proud of Jack this season for so many reasons. He stepped up to be the grandfather everyone deserves to have. His relationship with Drew is steady and monogamous. He’s sticking with his job at the rec center, unlike so many other previous endeavors. And on top of all of that, he landed an acting gig on Shades of Blue. Jack’s rightfully excited; he’s got the opportunity of a lifetime playing a corpse on TV, and he gets to work with Jennifer Lopez (JenPez!) once again. The only issue is that this gig overlaps with his theater class with the kids over at the rec center, and he needs someone who can watch them and help them run lines for their production of Annie until he comes back. And when you think “childcare,” you think Karen Walker. Even though Karen tells him no, Jack ambushes her with his theater class and hastily makes his exit before she can say anything.
Karen can actually be pretty maternal when she wants to be. This is not one of those times. Aside from the promise of free Adderall, she’s not exactly thrilled that Jack left her alone with all of these kids, and sandwiches the entire class into Grace’s private office so she can go about her business (okay but how big is that office?). And it turns out, she actually does have business. When the fabric and tassels for the hotel bar curtains arrive, Karen’s stunned to find that the curtains haven’t come ready-made (she did say they didn’t need to be assembled when she was asked three times, but that’s neither here nor there), and she’s scrambling. These have to be at the hotel by five o’clock, and there’s no way she can do this alone. What’s a girl to do?
Well, the girl remembers that her moral compass is a little wonky, and decides to employ Jack’s theater class to help her make her deadline.
While the kids are getting up close and personal with the interior design world, Jack’s doing about as well as expected on Shades of Blue. During his scene, he’s doing everything he can to jog JLo’s memory about his time as her backup dancer. To be fair, Jack McFarland can be a dedicated man…it’s just that here, his dedication is just a teensy bit misplaced. He’s singing, he’s laughing, he’s trying to get a picture of the two of them via selfie stick, and it’s all a little too much for JLo, who ends up showing him how it’s done. For as much as the return of Jennifer Lopez was hyped, I was expecting her to have a bigger part in this episode; they certainly had enough material from her last appearances to fall back on. Maybe they edited some of her stuff out of the final product, but I was hoping for a little more. That said, I did enjoy Jack annoying the hell out of her, so much so that production asks him to leave; I guess being still for thirty seconds just isn’t in the cards for him.
Jack returns to Grace Adler Designs can’t believe what he sees. I mean, he’s known Karen for twenty years at this point and he knows what she’s capable of, so maybe next time when you ask her to help your students run lines, fully understand that she 100% is not going to do that? Regardless of whether or not he should have known better, he’s frantically trying to figure out how to save face with the parents coming to the office expecting a scene from Annie while Karen is trying to figure out how to get the curtains done by her deadline. The solution? Combine the two, in classic Jack and Karen fashion. Luckily, Jack has an Annie wig so that everyone can perform “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” for the kids’ parents while the final touches to the curtains are being made. The parents are impressed with how realistic the scene is due to Karen making the kids work, Jack saves his ass and his job, and Karen gets her work done without Grace ever realizing she screwed up.
Karen Walker: skirting around the law, one youth theater production at a time.
The Annoying Baby Shower
Our title characters are never thrilled when they have to pretend to care about major life events of people they barely know. And when Grace gets invited to Ellen’s niece’s baby shower, there’s the added burden of the fact that she’ll be surrounded by women who are married with kids and judging the fact that she’s single without children. Will can’t help but poke a little fun at her, but Grace has the last laugh when she tells him that she RSVP’d for the both of them. Will could use the distraction, though; he went down the ex-boyfriend social media rabbit hole, going deep into Michael’s Instagram, double tapping a photo when Jack tells him to even though he has no idea how Instagram works, unliking the photo once he realizes what he did. We all know how Will rolls at this point; this is going to be all he thinks about, wondering if Michael saw it, wondering what it means if Michael saw it, wondering what it means that he’s doing this to himself. It seems like Grace needs a smooth afternoon, and Will could use something to take his mind off of…well, his mind.
But where’s the fun in that?
The day of the shower, Grace is over it before they even leave their apartment. Will sees her disdain and offers up a trick he picked up from his own family. Whenever Grace is faced with judgment, all she has to do is write her feelings down on a piece of paper and stick it in her pocket. That way, she can vent her frustration without making things awkward. When they arrive at the baby shower—“It’s like prom, but the pregnancy’s out in the open”—Ellen immediately greets Grace in what is immediately perceived as a condescending tone. Grace whips out her little notebook, and her afternoon of quiet passive aggression begins. Will, on the other hand, sees that he missed a call from Michael and goes into crisis mode, piquing the interest of Brianna and Ilana, a couple of teenage girls who are in no way invested in this party. When they find out that Michael didn’t leave a message, they tell Will that he’s been breadcrumbed—“when you want to flirt, but you wanna keep the power”—and that Michael absolutely saw the like on that three-year-old Instagram post. Spiraling, Will instantly bonds with the girls, because they know their shit and can help him through this mess.
Listen, I need to know what we can do to keep this trio connected forever, because it was a damn delight watching them interact together. Will is full on immersed in this, and the girls are sharp as hell; they get right to the heart of Will’s issues. He’s lurking on Michael’s social media so hard because they have history together. There’s no getting to know you period if they get back together, because they already know each other (granted, a lot of years have gone by and maybe they should at least reacquaint themselves first? But still). It’s an instant serious relationship, and if he doesn’t dive in and see if this leads somewhere again, the window of opportunity will close and he’ll have to start from the beginning with someone new. Brianna is convinced that if Will calls Michael back, they’ll get back together, but before he can do anything, Grace pulls him away with a crisis of her own.
In the time Will has been going over his love life with Brianna and Ilana, Grace has been furiously writing down her feelings about pretty much every woman at this baby shower. But of course, it’s going too well for her, so we need a little drama. And that drama comes when all of her pieces of paper disappear from the pockets of the sweater she draped over a chair. Will tries to calm her down at first…until they realize that her slips of paper were thrown into the bowl of well wishes for the baby by one of the other guests, and those well wishes are about to be read aloud to everyone. And if you think Grace is going to slide out of this one, you underestimate sitcom karma. We get one legitimate wish from Grandma before we take a deep dive into the mind of Grace Adler: “Rot in hell, you smug little puke.” “If I have to hear another story about an episiotomy, I’m going to rip someone a new asshole.” “Two drunk teens can make a kid in five minutes. It took me years to make Grace Adler Designs.” And when blaming those thoughts on Grandma doesn’t cut it, Grace has no other choice but to come clean.
This season, Will & Grace has had a knack for dropping the right message into an episode at the exact right time. We were gifted with “Grandpa Jack” on Spirit Day back in October, where Jack had a vital heart to heart with his grandson as he tried to rescue him from conversion camp: “This place can’t fix you because you’re not broken.” Likewise, Thursday was International Women’s Day, and the show did not let it go by unrecognized. Grace’s storyline is all about confronting the ridiculous notion that if you don’t have kids by the time you reach a certain age — or at all — you failed at life. At the same time, it tackles the other ridiculous notion that if you have children, that’s your entire identity. After spending the whole shower writing down her feelings, Grace finally lets everyone know that she feels judged despite making the best choices for herself. And when she gets that off her chest, it opens the door to the other women at the party feeling similar sentiments for different reasons. Ellen feels about the “How are the kids?” question the same way Grace feels about the “How’s work?” question. Another mother reveals that she has a Masters in Chemistry and can feel the judgment whenever people find out that the closest she comes to chemistry lately is making homemade slime with her kids. And it leads Grace to drop a vital truth, and give the best wish for the baby:
Grace: What I’m trying to say is, I’m happy. Which means that I made the right choices. And if you’re happy, that means you did, too. And we should be applauding each other. I have an actual, actual wish for this baby. I hope that whatever she chooses to do with her life, that she never has one second of worrying about what other people think.
I know that not worrying about what other people think is easier said than done; it’s something I still struggle with, even though I’ve found that as I’ve gotten older, I give less and less of a damn how other people perceive me. But it’s ridiculous how society programs us to judge others when their version of happiness doesn’t link up with our own. Grace has a lot to be proud of when it comes to what she’s made of her life, just like Ellen has a lot to be proud of. Just like every woman at that shower has a lot to be proud of. Just like every single one of you reading this recap has a lot to be proud of. Success is subjective, and happiness comes from infinite sources. I can’t think of a better message to send on International Women’s Day than that. Grace’s toast — ”To being happy with our choices and having everything we need” — hits home on more than one level, though; it makes Will realize that he doesn’t really have everything he needs. And between that and Brianna and Ilana’s analysis of his current situation, he knows what he has to do. He takes out his phone, dials, and makes me shout at my TV when it sounds like Michael answered his call.
When Michael made his first appearance — all the way back in season two’s “Hey La, Hey La, My Ex-Boyfriend’s Back”—it was a completely different ball game. They were a little over a year out of their break up, so it was all a lot fresher than it is now; considering how significant their relationship was, there had to still be some residual stuff that they weren’t sure how to handle. But now? Now, Will has been dealing with the fact that he’s no longer in his twenties (or his thirties). Now, he’s realizing that all the getting to know you stuff that comes along with dating someone new is exhausting. Now, he’s fresh off of attending Vince’s wedding, and I am SURE that that was at least part of the reason he started going through Michael’s Instagram in the first place. They’re no doubt coming at this storyline from a new perspective, and I am so intrigued with how this will go. I just want Will to be happy. And if this is a necessary stop on the way to happy, regardless of how it plays out, I’m ready for it.
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- Is there a “Ten Pictures of Gay Men Laughing with Salads” article out there, and can I please see it?
Karen’s version of phone sex with Stan is rattling off a list of deli meats and cheeses, because of course it is.
- “Jenny from the Blocked Me on All Social Media!”
- Will made a comment that Grace’s getup for the baby shower was a little on the Rhoda Morgenstern/Axl Rose side, but all I saw was Grace Adler serving a little Cher 3614 Jackson Highway realness, and my diva loving heart was bursting. I mean, come on:
- Two words: Slo-mo medication:
- I’m sure it was probably due to scheduling conflicts, but seriously…if you’re going to have Karen watch all of the kids from the rec center, you have GOT to throw Tasha into the mix. Lest we forget the golden moments they offer up together.
- If the delivery man looked familiar to you, that’s because he is. Back in the original run, he played Will and Grace’s friend, Steve, who gardens because he doesn’t have much else going on and who got stood up by his mom when he went to see The Nutcracker. Jury’s still out on whether or not he can add delivery man to his bio…I can’t tell if they meant it to be the same guy, or it’s another Crazy Sally/Bridget the maid scenario.
- “This is how you do it, jackass.” “You know my name! She knows my name!”
“You know, Rob’s always like, ‘We don’t see Will and Grace enough. And I’m always like, ‘We see them the right amount.’” But seriously, you don’t see Will and Grace enough because I missed you, Ellen.
- Finally, please enjoy this footage of the dance number that was cut from this episode and marvel at the fact that Megan Mullally is a goddamn champion for getting through this while having full on stomach flu.
What did you think of “Sweatshop Annie & the Annoying Baby Shower?” Let’s chat in the comments!
Featured image source: NBC