Will and Grace Season 1, Episode 16
“It’s A Family Affair”
Posted by Sarah
If someone had told sixteen-year-old me—the one who was fresh off of the Will & Grace series finale with a tear-stained face—that in a few years, revivals and reboots would dominate television and she would get her show back, she would have wondered why the hell they’re teasing her like that. But now, we’ve reached the end of the first of at least three additional seasons of this series, and I wish I could show sixteen-year-old me that not only did we get our show back, it’s also held its own after all these years. I wish I could tell her that it still makes my heart swell and makes me laugh harder than most things do. I wish I could tell her that this revival swooped in when I needed it the most, just like the original run did. The past sixteen episodes have been a gift, and part of me is still stunned we even got them in the first place. This season went by so quickly. And it wrapped up with literally everyone making important life decisions based on the strong desire for their lives to not be like Will and Grace’s. But how did we get to this point? How did Will and Grace get to this point? Let’s break this thing down.
Martin Adler is a city man now, and if you ask Grace, it’s going astoundingly terrible. Even though Will stands firm that this was the right decision, and that Martin will be happier, Grace is still super pissed. And let’s be real, it’s never fun to suddenly live with your parents when you’re a functioning, independent adult. So even though Martin is finally starting to move forward with his life, Grace can’t help but be frustrated at helping her father acclimate to Manhattan (although, to be fair, having to relearn where all the TV channels are is kind of bullshit)…so much so that she planned her own little revenge, fighting family with family. Because if Will is inflicting Martin on Grace’s everyday life, it’s only fair that Grace inflict Marilyn (with her three beagles in tow, of course) on Will’s, right?
Much to Will and Grace’s dismay, their parents are having a wonderful time in each other’s company. They make a great, if misguided, game night team, they defend each other against Will and Grace’s nitpicking, and they bond over complaining about the ways in which their children have failed them. It’s that last point that makes them come to the same conclusion while briefly questioning their parenting skills: Will and Grace are far too close to each other, and it’s dragging their lives down a few notches. Martin’s got the bullet-pointed list ready for them when they protest; they’re not married, they’re not dating, they live and work together (much to Marilyn’s surprise, even though Will definitely told her on multiple occasions that he quit the firm, pay attention, Mom). It’s all a little too much in their parents’ opinion, and it’s completely off base in Will and Grace’s. The argument that ensues makes Marilyn retreat to the bedroom and Martin follow after her to check up on her. But before they can deal with that aftermath, Jack drops his own little bombshell on them.
See, Jack decided that the best thing to do after his break up with Drew is to take a spontaneous trip to Ibiza. He couldn’t have picked a better place to rebound; there are buff dudes surrounding him at every turn. And even though he is in a very spirited argument with his mother via FaceTime about his break up, he can’t seem to take his eyes off of Estefan, the cute flight attendant who keeps passing him by with progressively less clothing on his body. Jack is so taken with Estefan that they fly back to New York together, so that he can introduce the new love of his life to Will and Grace. Estefan isn’t exactly their cup of tea; he mistakes Grace for Will during the introductions and automatically assumes that Will’s jealous that he’s the guy in Jack’s life. Regardless, Jack seems to have found a relief from the heartache he felt over his breakup, even if it is a little superficial and fast. When Jack and Estefan head back to apartment 9A, Will and Grace begin setting up the living room to sleep in. And because they just can’t seem to catch a break this episode, when they try to grab some blankets from the bedroom, they’re stunned to walk in on Martin and Marilyn having sex.
Will and Grace are so traumatized that, come morning, they haven’t slept at all. Just when they’ve convinced themselves that they can skate by this without ever having to talk about it again—with Will’s mom being incredibly repressed and Grace’s father this close to being totally deaf, they might have never noticed their kids walking in on them, and if they did, it’ll never be mentioned—Martin and Marilyn walk out of the bedroom, happy to tell their children what they did last night (Martin kind of buried the lede, but all the same, I’m really glad Aunt Honey gets to keep her foot). With Jack and Estefan as an added audience, Marilyn announces that she’s moving to the city, not only to be closer to Martin, but to keep an eye on Will and Grace since their lives have “gone off the rails.” And when Jack agrees with Marilyn and Martin’s assessment of their kids’ lives, Will and Grace try to put things into perspective with a pretty straightforward argument:
It’s touching, and it gets to the heart of Will and Grace’s relationship. It doesn’t really fly with anyone else in the room, though, and I feel like I can see both sides to the issue? I think “incestuous” is a little strong, but I never really thought to think about just how close Will and Grace are to each other. To anyone outside that relationship, it might seem a little co-dependent, but I also get the “why mess with a good thing?” angle of it all. And I realize I pretty much explained one of the main sources of humor on this show when I didn’t really need to, which is why I doubt anything is ever going to change with that dynamic. But no one in that room wants to end up like Will and Grace, and why wouldn’t that be a perfectly good reason for everyone to propose marriage to everyone else?
Martin’s up first. Citing the fact that “Love is short, and love is precious,” he proposes to Marilyn, who happily accepts. It inspires Jack to propose to Estefan…that Estefan should propose to Jack. Of course, Estefan does, and just like that, Jack is an engaged man. I really don’t expect Jack and Estefan to last too much further than the season two premiere, especially with all the progress Jack has made this season in regard to how he views his love life. All of it just screams rebound, and I feel like someone’s going to realize that eventually. Martin and Marilyn, though…I could actually see that working? There’s a really interesting dynamic between the two of them, and I’m so intrigued by it. I don’t know if this storyline will ever cross the line into marriage, just because of how that will change Will and Grace’s relationship to each other, but if it did, I don’t think it would be a total disaster. Will and Grace, however, are mortified and automatically volunteer to get champagne just to get out of that apartment. Shaken, trying to process everything that just went down, they run into Karen. And because I was 100% serious when I said they can’t catch a break, Karen promptly tells them that she just made a big life decision with her head instead of heart, because she, too, didn’t want to end up like our title characters. Will things ever let up for Will and Grace? More importantly, are they really going to become step-siblings? Stay tuned.
So where exactly has Karen been this whole time? She’s been in Malcolm’s hotel room, trying to put off the choosing between Stan and him. Malcolm gave her as much time alone as he possibly could so that she could think, trying to occupy himself with a jog in the park and a subpar Kinky Boots matinee. To be fair, she did give it some thought…she just thought about how she really wants to keep things the same as they have been. Malcolm’s not having it; he’s tired of being the guy Karen has on the side (I lost it at “down low hoe,” sue me), and he refuses to keep going like this. And to prove he’s not joking, he’s going to withhold sex until Karen makes a decision. Which goes exactly how this kind of thing always goes in Sitcom Land.
Look, I know I’ve said I’m pretty indifferent to Malcolm (and I am), but holy god, the sex miming scene was brilliant. Each of them is craving the other, but they’re also standing their ground. And they’re not going to make it easy. From across the table, they each act out the things they would have been doing if this standoff wasn’t a thing. They’re going all out with these motions, and they are so turned on, you guys. I can’t even imagine how long this must have taken to shoot with a straight face. It’s a fantastic comedic moment that I don’t think I could do justice to by describing it, so please enjoy it in its entirety below:
Karen eventually makes her decision, and really, it’s the one I was expecting her to make, the one she almost had to make. She tries to let Malcolm down easy when she stays she picks Stan. You can tell how hard it is for her. This was one of those moments where I’m struck by how genuine and thoughtful she is, which isn’t to say that she’s never like that; it’s just that this felt like one of those “Karen Walker Feels Things!” moments that I’m so fond of. And when she explains the reasoning behind her decision, she gives it to him in a beautifully simple way (okay, there’s one quick joke at the end, but the sentiment is still there): “I adore you, Malcolm. You’re the perfect vacation, but Stan is my home…and the surrounding properties.” To Malcolm’s credit, although he’s obviously sad and disappointed, he respects Karen’s decision; all he wants is a kiss goodbye. Karen, however, knows that if they touch, they won’t let go. But thanks to Malcolm’s quick thinking and everyone’s good friend, the transitive property, they realize that if Malcolm kisses Smitty before Karen kisses Smitty, it’s basically like kissing each other. This poor man though…all he wants is to pour Karen a drink. Someone give him a raise.
Something in Karen’s delivery of her decision makes me think that even though we’ve likely put an end to the Malcolm storyline, we’re not exactly done with this examination of her marriage to Stan. Obviously, there are issues in her marriage if she’s relying on her one weekend a year with Malcolm to make her happy. And it’s not like it would be the first time they’ve had issues (I mean…you have seen the original run of this show, right?), so I guess the question that comes out of all of that is this: in a marriage as long and complicated as Karen’s, what’s the final straw? Maybe I’m putting too much stock in it; maybe they’ll leave it at this and not touch it during season two. But the weight of the seriousness in Karen’s voice sticks in my head, like all of those heavy hitting “Karen Walker Feels Things!” moments of yore. And between that, Jack’s rebound engagement, and Will and Grace’s parents becoming a little too close for comfort in their children’s minds, it’s going to be interesting to see how all of this is unpacked. And it’s making it really hard to be patient for the new season.
Start counting down the days, kids.
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- It’s good to know that we can add Lady Snatcherly to Karen’s growing list of aliases.
- Every time Jack whips out that shouty exaggerated “JUDITH,” I lose my shit. Also, I will say this every time they bring her up until they finally make it happen: MAKE JUDITH MCFARLAND VISIT HER SON.
- Marilyn playing Heads Up is my new favorite thing, and if we’re getting more of her in the upcoming season, I would like to request her presence at any future game nights.
- “I thought when I did it, ‘Oh, that’ll show him.’ I forgot that I live here, too.”
- Remember in season six’s “Speechless,” when Karen told Jack, “God didn’t give me the ability to play the piano, or paint a picture, or have compassion. But he did give me the ability to crack a walnut with my hoo-ha”? Well…here’s this (“You even remembered the silent L.”):
- Pride, but then make it fashion:
- “He served me warm nuts and put me in the upright and locked position.”
- I don’t think they mentioned it in the episode, but in all the behind the scenes stuff they post on Instagram, I found out that Jack’s new beau’s full name is Estefan Gloria, and I would like to hug everybody in that writer’s room.
- I really love how often Smitty has been thrown into this season. He’s another one of those characters who have a big presence in the Will & Grace universe despite only being in a handful of episodes, so I’m glad he’s getting more screen time.
What did you think of the season finale? How do you think this season fared overall? Let’s chat in the comments. It has been so much fun breaking down each episode with you. See you next season!
Featured Image Source: NBC