Will & Grace Season 2, Episode 6
“Kid ‘N Play”
Posted by Sarah
Excuse me, Noah? Noah Broader? Yes, hi, it’s Sarah. May I ask you a question? What the actual hell is your deal? No, seriously, tell me. Listen, I want to like you. I really do. You were so promising in the season premiere, and I was totally rooting for you by the end of it. But then you kept showing up. And when you kept showing up, you kept doing stupid, gross things that immediately destroyed any shining moment of chemistry with Grace that I could actually enjoy. And unfortunately, this week was no exception; what should have been a super endearing moment in the timeline of a sitcom romance left me in the middle of a sea of “Meh.” But at least we all had a front row seat to Karen Walker Presents Gaybraham Twinkin’ to balance it all out.
I am so confused about how this show actually wants me to feel about Noah now that we’re three episodes deep, so let’s try to unpack this together, shall we?
For all intents and purposes, Grace and Noah are doing great right now. There’s just one little problem (aside from all of the ones that keep piling up in my mind, but I’ll digress for now): Will is terrified that Noah’s going to go all West Side Curmudgeon on him and judge the hell out of him. Of course, Grace has a plan to help her best friend and her boyfriend start to bond, and she Parent Traps them, telling Noah that Will’s out and to come by the apartment with a bottle of Skinnygirl Chardonnay (Will’s favorite wine), and telling Will to meet her at the apartment and to make a BLT with double mayo and double chips (Noah’s favorite sandwich). And once they’re both in the same room and realize Grace’s motives, the two try to give her what she wants before quickly realizing that’s never going to happen. I love that West Side Story is the thing to completely set Will off into this passionate argument in its defense, literally snapping at Noah until he gets the brilliant idea to go get the DVD and show Grace’s beau just how wrong he is. But while Will’s off to prove his point, Noah answers a phone call from a girl named Katie in which he not only lies about where he is, but tells her he loves her. And true to sitcom timing, Will overhears that last bit. Whoops.
Will immediately jumps to the conclusion that Noah’s cheating on Grace. But just as he’s getting fired up over the possibility of having another Leo on his hands, Noah sets things straight: Katie is his twelve-year-old daughter, and he hasn’t gotten around to telling Grace about her yet. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to tell her. He just thought the first date wasn’t the best time to do it since he didn’t know where the relationship was going, and the second date was the date he thought they’d be having sex (sigh…again with this?), and the third date was the point where he realized he should have said something but now it’s just weird that he let it go for so long. To Noah’s credit, he really wants to make things right with Grace, and this is the common ground that he and Will have been looking for: they both care about her. They work together to come up with a game plan, with Will giving Noah twenty-four hours to tell Grace about Katie, and Noah commits to telling Grace at dinner tomorrow night. But when Grace comes home angry from her date with Noah, it’s not the fact that Noah had a secret that set her off; it’s the fact that soup was spilled all over her skirt. And that’s when Will realizes that Noah still hasn’t said anything about Katie, and that he has to be the one to break the news to her.
When Noah returns from explaining to their Uber driver why he’s only getting one star, Grace is rightfully donut-flinging furious that he kept his daughter a secret from her. I mean, really, his second appearance had established that they’d been together for a few weeks, so we’re definitely looking at two months minimum that he kept his mouth shut on this; maybe the sex window closing shouldn’t have been the window you were concerned about. And when turning it back on Grace by saying she should have asked about it doesn’t work (come on, dude, for real?), they quickly shift to another serious conversation point: Noah’s feelings for Grace. They’re there, he has them, but he’s finding it impossible to voice them, and I don’t get that. Like, is that just part of his West Side Curmudgeon image or what, because how hard is it to tell her how he feels about her after they’ve been seeing each other for this long, when he has absolutely no trouble talking about how he feels about literally everything else? Grace doesn’t get it either, and she’s officially done with skirting around the issue:
Grace: I have spent too much of my life chasing after emotionally wishy-washy guys, and I don’t have time for it anymore. I know who I am. I know what I need.
Girl, YES. I literally cheered when she said that, and I love how in that moment, she refuses to take any more of this guy’s bullshit. She gives him twenty-four seconds to clearly spell out how he really feels about her, and he’s dragging his feet the entire time until he finally runs out of time on Grace’s countdown and shouts out those three little words: “I love you.” I wish I could have been wrapped up in that moment the way I honestly should have been, but the fact that it’s Noah made it do absolutely nothing for me; Grace shouldn’t have to force it out of him like that, and the whole thing felt a little on the exhausting side. But it’s out there now, and it leads Grace to ask a little more about Noah’s daughter, including when she can meet her. Noah’s response? “That’s not happening.” Cue the elevator closing, and cue the “To be continued…” card.
Hello, this is your friendly neighborhood child of divorce speaking. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about this in the next episode’s recap, but for now, let me just say this: the way he shut down Grace’s question about meeting Katie was terrible. But his motives? I actually kind of get it. Speaking as someone who’s been there when she was a kid, meeting your parent’s new significant other can be straight up traumatic, no matter how nice that new significant other is. So I completely understand wanting to protect your child from that for as long as you can, and also wanting to be sure that the person you introduce into your child’s life isn’t just coming in and out on a revolving door. I’m interested to see how this storyline plays out in the next episode, and to see how Noah navigates this; here’s hoping I don’t have to add this to the pile of issues I already have with him.
Which brings me to the pile of issues I already have with him. I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain my feelings about Noah now that we’re three episodes in with him, and Maggie nailed it when we were talking about “Kid ‘N Play” after it aired: Noah Broader is a character better suited for the original run of Will & Grace; the revival makes him stand out in a pretty unattractive way. And when she put it that way, I could see how a lot of the things that have been bothering me about him could actually work somewhere in the first eight seasons of this show, to the point where I wouldn’t be waiting for the episode where he and Grace break up already. Let’s just take a look at this episode for a second. His whole exchange with Grace at the beginning, where he complains about how goodbye kisses never lead to anything but then circles back to kiss her goodbye totally could have worked during the Will & Grace of yore. But you know when it doesn’t work? When you put it in the episode DIRECTLY AFTER “Grace’s Secret.” And Noah making some quip about how Will kept the fact that he’s gay a secret from Grace while they were dating? Maybe not the best joke to place just a couple weeks after “Who’s Sorry Now?” and the reveal of Will’s letter. These things make it so underwhelming when Noah finally tells Grace he loves her; I know the show was aiming for this huge moment then, but it just fell completely flat for me. What I love so much about this revival is how the show has been meeting serious issues head on and knocking it out of the park every time. And after three appearances, I just don’t think Noah is a piece that fits into that puzzle.
Meanwhile, Karen’s divorce has her in desperate need of a tax shelter, and she’s looking for something to invest in that is sure to fail. Luckily, her dilemma perfectly coincides with Jack’s triumphant return to the theatre, in a new one-man show he wrote about Abraham Lincoln’s rumored gay love affair brilliantly titled Gaybraham Twinkin’. I mean, okay, betting against your best friend is morally questionable, but this is Karen we’re dealing with here. Not to mention, Jack has an…interesting?…history of one-man shows (although let’s be real, his duet of “Mockingbird” with himself during Jack 2000 was inspired), so this is the perfect opportunity for Karen to throw some money at a flop.
And what a flop it’s poised to be. This thing is so filled with crazy amazing Lincoln puns that I was tempted to just have my ending bullet points be full of them; how amazing would it have been to be in the writer’s room when they were coming up with these? But crazy amazing puns aren’t going to save what is otherwise a total disaster of a show, and that’s exactly the way Karen wants it. She’s totally fine to just sit and let Jack do his own thing while she’s occupying herself on her phone with videos of raccoons eating cat food (“It walks just like a people!”). That is, until Jack reveals the show poster with her name in huge letters at the top and tells her that a bunch of her friends RSVP’d to opening night (this revival has been really heavy on the jokes about Karen being BFFs with with a certain current president’s family, so I am SO GLAD that they threw Marlo Thomas back into the mix. It’s the little things that make my heart swell). It’s enough to make Karen do a total 180 and start caring about this thing. She demands “Less Jackting, more acting,” and pulls no punches when she tells him honestly that the play sucks. She gets VIVID about it, too: “If you put a broom on a circus floor after the elephant parade and swept it all into one big pile, it would still be a smaller turd than this thing.” And you’ve got to love how even though Jack’s work is being ripped apart by his best friend, he can still take a moment to appreciate a well-crafted insult before putting his foot down about doing things his way.
But come on, it’s not like Karen’s going to listen to Jack asserting himself like that. With her name on the line, she makes an executive decision and recasts Lincoln with none other than Jon Cryer (when I read that he would be playing himself this season, I very much had an “Um…what?” reaction, so it’s nice to finally get some context on this). He’s doing the best he can with the material he’s been given, and it’s making Karen hopeful. But when Jack realizes what’s going on, he’s extremely upset with Karen, and it’s completely valid; it’s a poorly executed vision, sure, but it’s his poorly executed vision. Karen won’t back down from her decision, though, and just like that, their relationship seems to crumble over this play (“This is how our friendship ends: stabbed in the back by my best friend in a theatre, just like Lincoln.”). It isn’t until Jon Cryer performs a monologue about not letting friendship perish that Jack and Karen realize it’s crazy to let this come between them, leading Karen to promise to let him do whatever he wants with the play, because it’s his. Overall, this was one of those silly side plots that Jack and Karen are so good at. Even when they’re at odds, they make for some insanely good comedy (I need Karen to talk in her Jack voice more often), and it provided a nice balance to the A-story.
But seriously, I’d pay for a ticket to Gaybraham Twinkin’ for “You really got your licks in below my Mason-Dixon” alone. When’s opening night?
i LOVE how uber-sitcom this photo is ? this is what we do for a living! ???? please watch @seanhayes be extremely funny tonight in Jack McFarland’s new stage production of his original theater piece, “Gaybraham Twinkin” ?? 9/8c @nbc @nbcwillandgrace #WillAndGrace pic.twitter.com/RkFmOmP7jK
— Megan Mullally (@MeganMullally) November 16, 2018
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- “Karen, are you NOT high?” is exactly the right kind of baffled response to getting a compliment from our dear socialite.
- I can’t say it enough: I really love the fact that Will’s all about that Skinnygirl Chardonnay. It just feels so right?
- “The guy playing Tony is distractingly gay.” “He is EXACTLY the right level of gay.”
- Did anyone else get a brief flashback to Jack and Karen’s storyline in “The Big Vent” from season one of the original run while watching this, or was that just me? I don’t know if it’s because they were both in a theatre again or what, but suddenly I need to go rewatch the two of them working on Love Among the Coconuts: A Caribbean Fantasy.
- “Turns out Teddy Roosevelt wasn’t the only president with a thing for bears.”
- “Right now, the whole second act…just a drawing of a horse.” I have so many questions, and yet, I would not expect anything less than this.
- Moment of appreciation for how stunning Karen looks in a pinstripe suit with a pocket square.
- “I’m a gay man, I can always sense when something bad has happened to…suede.” Thank you for playing, Will Truman.
- The Grace Adler Comfort Kit looks eerily similar to mine.
- “You gave him twenty-four hours? What are you, a Bond villain?”
- Every week, Max Mutchnick releases a short video of outtakes from each episode, and please enjoy this one if for no other reason than to hear Megan Mullally say “Your play sucks ass” like a gruff cigar-toting producer. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve played that part because it makes me laugh so hard.
— Max Mutchnick (@MaxMutchnick) November 16, 2018
What did you think of “Kid ‘n Play?” Let’s talk in the comments.