“Tex and the City”
Posted by Sarah
When Jack McFarland’s grandson shows up, you know you’re in for something important. This has been the second year in a row that Will & Grace has aired an episode during Spirit Day. And this is the second year in a row that the show has completely nailed the takeaway message. Last season, Jack dropped everything to help Skip live his truth. This season, we not only get to see Skip’s truth shine, but we also get to see his fierce Marilyn Monroe routine serve as the inspiration for one of our Fab Four to finally unleash his inner Queen. Of course, that’s not all; we’ve also got the return of Beverley Leslie, Karen Walker feeling things for the second week in a row, and a storyline for Grace and Noah that was a bit on the problematic side. With all of this to unpack, we should probably get this show on the road.
Anyone up for a trip down south?
When Jack finds out that Skip is singing in a church concert and Elliot can’t be there, he and Will fly out to Texas to support him (and immediately, my heart swells, because look at the journey he’s willingly and excitedly going on for his grandson). But when they arrive, and Skip tells them that the church concert is actually a talent show he’ll be singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in, Jack’s excitement promptly turns into fear. In his mind, Texas is a place where homophobia runs rampant — where that guy he saw on his way into the hotel wasn’t spitting out his chewing tobacco, but spitting at him because he’s a gay man — and he’s convinced that if Skip sings a song like that at his church, the bullying that could follow will scar him for life. He’s of the mind that being open in New York is very different from being open in Texas, and the only way to spare Skip the pain of that is teach him how not to make himself a target.
It’s heartbreaking that this is his first instinct, but I do get where Jack’s coming from here; I know he’s probably basing this on some of his own experiences as a kid, and while we’d all like to believe that things have changed and people have become more accepting over time, there are still plenty of places where living your truth isn’t necessarily safe. All he wants to do is protect his grandson, and I love that part of him so much. But if this show has taught us anything over the last twenty years, it’s to let your light shine brightly and proudly no matter what anyone says. And thankfully, Will swoops in to remind Jack of that with a story of his own. When he was a kid, Will wanted to perform in a talent contest as Freddie Mercury, but his mom refused to let him do it for the same reasons Jack doesn’t want Skip performing now. Yes, he could have been bullied for that performance; that risk is always going to be there, and that’s awful. But the fact that he wasn’t supported by someone he loved — someone who is supposed to love him unconditionally — while he was just trying to let his light shine is a hurt that he never got over. And while Jack is still worried about Skip, he realizes that above all else, he needs to be there for his grandson as he sings his heart out.
The guys get to the church just in time to see Skip’s performance, and oh my god, this kid is amazing. He’s got the Marilyn gloves, he’s going all out in his dance moves, and he’s belting it better than most people probably could. He looks like he’s having the time of his life. When the song ends, though, Jack can’t bear to look, afraid that the audience is going to come after his grandson; he can’t even register the applause filling the room for what it is. It isn’t until Will brings him out of his worry that he realizes Skip was a hit, and he immediately rushes the stage, full of love and pride. And this is what I really love about Jack: he could have left it at this, and Skip would have been none the wiser; but when Skip calls him a good role model, he’s compelled to come clean and own up to something his grandson didn’t even realize he was doing. And in doing so, he tells Skip something that, like their heart to heart outside of Camp Straighten Arrow last season, is so very important: “Don’t let anyone ever talk you out of being you.” It’s hard enough making your way through this world; and while living your truth does take bravery, it allows you to breathe a little easier as you go through life. Jack knows that, and acknowledges that he should have listened to Will all along. And Will? He finally sees his opportunity to shine.
Will as Freddie Mercury was everything I never realized I needed in my life, and I need this to happen all the time. But on a deeper level, I think it was a particularly effective end to this storyline, proving that it’s never too late to take Jack’s advice and let people see you for who you are. Maybe Will didn’t have the support he needed and deserved when he was younger. But he certainly has it now, and in this moment, with this performance, he’s unleashing his inner Queen and living his best life. What a wonderful way to commemorate Spirit Day.
But they’re not the only ones with business in the south.
Karen’s got a very different idea of a Texas vacation; she’s making the trip down there to…sigh…see the section of the border wall that she sponsored (deep breaths, Sarah, deep breaths). But once she gets there, she’s informed by border patrol that someone else has taken this section out from under her. And who would do that other than the one and only Beverley Leslie? Bev rolls in looking like what I imagine the little plastic cowboy on that cake Grace gave Will for his birthday during “Will on Ice” looked like, proudly proclaiming that this is his portion of the wall. After their traditionally sharp back and forth, both of them hop on their vehicles in an attempt to push each other out of the way in order to claim this section once and for all. And since Beverley essentially rolled in on the ATV equivalent of the toy Jeep I had as a kid, Karen succeeds…but not before plowing through the wall and leaving a massive gap in it, landing both of them in jail.
While Beverley gets taken away by the guard, Karen finds herself in conversation with Blanca, a woman who was arrested for trying to climb the wall, and it’s here that she gets a much needed reality check. Since Karen watches Fox News constantly (girl, you do not make it easy to love you sometimes), she hasn’t heard anything that might make her think the border wall is a bad idea. She has no idea about the things Blanca — and countless others — are running from, that trying to climb the wall means trying to survive. But it isn’t until Blanca mentions El Salvador that Karen realizes that she knew someone who could have been affected by what’s going on at the border.
Leave it to Rosario to still be able to recalibrate Karen’s moral compass. As soon as Karen wonders what would have happened if the wall had kept Rosario away from America, she starts to get it, starts to understand the horrible implications of what she was so willing to donate her money to help build. And when she hears that all Blanca wants to do is be reunited with her husband and daughter, who came to America four years ago, Karen feels compelled to help her find her family. She takes off the bracelet she bought herself after Rosario’s passing and hands it to Blanca, telling her that it’s worth an insane amount of money and should be able to get her out of here and on her way back to her family. When Beverley finally returns, he lets Karen know that they’ve been released from jail, thanks to Bev’s alone time with the guard and the promise that they would each pay to repair the gap in the wall that they caused. But Karen and her new insight refuse to lend any more money to this cause, and she pulls out of sponsoring the wall. And THAT, dear readers, is my girl. I’ll be honest: when I heard about this storyline, I was nervous. With everything going on in the world right now, a plot involving Karen and the border wall seemed like all it would take would be the smallest misstep to make it a complete disaster. But it was so wonderful to see that this plot came with a change of heart for Karen. And it was a relief to see that amidst all the humor that’s inevitably there whenever Beverley comes to play, the weight of the issues surrounding the border wall wasn’t diminished.
Back in New York, Grace is thrilled that she’ll have the apartment to herself for a little while; she’s been seeing Noah for a few weeks now, and she’s frustrated that they haven’t had sex yet, so this is the perfect opportunity to make something happen before the window closes. But of course, this is Sitcom Land; nothing is ever that easy. And what follows is a series of attempts at making something work that fail miserably. There’s the time that Grace has settled in for the night, having eaten way too much to feel sexual, which is of course the time Noah barges in ready to go. When she tells him she’s not in the mood, he tells her she’s being neurotic (which…EXCUSE you?!), and when she gives in, he pulls away because he doesn’t want to talk her into sex. And then there’s the time Grace actually was in the mood — heightened by the fact that Noah brought her a sandwich from City Sandwich, and her excitement over that is so on brand, it was delightful — but when Noah finds out she once slept with his sandwich guy, he’s instantly turned off and storms out. By the time he comes back, they play like the window has officially been closed before trying to turn each other on by one-upping each other’s crazy, which is the thing that does the trick.
This was just…such a weird, kind of gross storyline to follow up Noah’s introduction with? I was so on board with this relationship during the season premiere, and I will admit that there were instances where I could see the great parts of their chemistry peek through during this episode (Noah bringing Grace the sandwich would have literally been the most endearing thing ever if it hadn’t have gone so dramatically downhill like that). But right now, I’m starting to regret the things I said the other week about this reminding me of Nathan, because Nathan 100% would not have gone this route. Maybe it would have played better if we had known literally anything more about Noah other than the fact that he’s the West Side Curmudgeon, or literally anything more about Noah and Grace’s relationship other than the fact that it exists. Or maybe the writing was just off for this part. Or maybe both. But it went from them being intrigued by each other to “Oh my god, why aren’t we having sex RIGHT NOW” in no time at all, and I wanted more of the in-between part before we ever got to this point. This was a miss for me (I still can’t get over the fact that he called her neurotic IN AN ATTEMPT TO MAKE SEX HAPPEN and then told her she shouldn’t be talked into sex even though that was kind of exactly what he was doing, WHAT EVEN), and I’m just sad that this is the second chapter of a connection I was actually really excited about.
I’m holding out hope that we’re going to get back to what I loved so much about Noah and Grace during the premiere. But after this, I feel like it’s going to be a bit of an uphill journey.
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- Did you catch the fact that the entire cast wore something purple during the opening scene? Spirit Day done right.
- “You haven’t had sex with him yet? What, are you having it renovated?” Bless you, Karen Walker.
- That time Karen wore a leather catsuit to go four-wheeling, and Kim had to check in to see if I was still breathing. (For the record: No. No, I was not.)
Beverley casually dropped the fact that Stan kicked Karen out of the manse, and now I just really want to know where she’s living?
- Tag yourself, I’m Grace in sweats licking the cheese board.
- “He made such good sandwiches that I thought I was into him, but it was definitely just the sandwich.”
- I honestly want all of the details about Will’s GI Joes that met on leave and fell in love.
- So I’m just going to get super emotional every time someone mentions Rosario from here on out? That’s my life now? Yeah, that sounds about right.
- “He may look like Mr. Clean, but he’s Mr. Dirty.” Good job, Beverley, you just broke me.
- If the woman who let Will and Jack into the talent show looks familiar to you, that’s probably because she also played one of Will’s colleagues at Doucette and Stein during the original run. And I love that they’ve been getting players from the original run to come back for the revival as different characters.
- Finally, here’s a video of Eric McCormack lip syncing “We Are the Champions” as Freddie Mercury to that week’s studio audience. Let it fill your heart as much as it filled mine.
What did you think of “Tex and the City?” Let’s talk in the comments!
Featured image source: NBC