Will & Grace Season 2, Episode 15
Posted by Sarah
If we have learned anything from this season of Will & Grace, it’s that the show has mastered the art of balance. To be able to touch on these important issues as a sitcom is no easy feat. To be able to put those issues alongside a B-story filled with jokes about a unicorn shooting marshmallow fluff out of its horn that I can not believe got past the censors, and not cheapen the impact of it all, is incredible. Hell, to be able to throw a couple jokes in the middle of such a heavy moment between Will and Martin so seamlessly is brilliant, and I am so proud of my show for being able to do this so well. Between this and Jack and Karen’s fight for the perfect wedding, there’s a lot of story to unpack. So let’s unpack it.
Will and Grace are having their parents over for dinner for the first time since Marilyn and Martin got married, and it’s going exactly as well as you’d expect it to, from Marilyn ignoring Grace every time she calls her “Mom” to Martin insisting that the secret to their happy marriage is that they never fight, they simply accept everything that happens and move on. But in the middle of this lovely awkward dinner, Martin starts to get stomach pains from a bleeding ulcer and is instantly taken to the hospital, in need of a blood transfusion. Luckily for Martin, Will has the same blood type and is more than willing to donate. But when Grace goes into Martin’s room to tell him the good news, he tells her that he doesn’t want it. And he makes it extremely clear that he doesn’t want it because Will is gay, despite the fact that Will gets tested regularly and they screen the blood.
We’ve been down this road with Martin before, just with a different issue. In “Grace’s Secret” at the beginning of the season, we saw him be disgustingly flirty with a waitress and go to bat for his late best friend before realizing that friend sexually assaulted Grace when she was a teenager and changing his tune. And while seeing that growth in him was incredible, it’s clear that he still has an antiquated way of seeing things, a way that is infuriating beyond belief; his blunt declaration of “I’ll wait for the straight blood” made me see such a vivid shade of red as my blood boiled, and the fact that he acknowledges that they “did the #MeToo thing” as he says that it’s not the time to get into it just makes it worse. He tells Grace to let Will believe that he took the blood, but Grace can’t lie to her best friend like that. So when she goes back home, she tells Will the truth. And when she’s surprised by how blasé he’s being about it, Will gets incredibly real about why he’s reacting the way he is:
God, I feel this so hard. I haven’t been able to stop feeling this since it aired; I cried over it on Thursday night, I cried over it on rewatch, and I honestly haven’t been able to think about it without getting choked up a little bit. And I’m willing to bet that the majority of this show’s audience felt it pretty hard, too. As much as we want to say things have changed and gotten better in this society–as much as things actually have changed and gotten better in this society–there is always going to be a fight, day after day after day. It’s so exhausting, and sometimes you don’t even realize how exhausting it is until you take a step back from the fight you’ve gotten so used to and see it for what it is. And even though this is very much dealing with an LGBTQ+ fight, Will’s monologue could honestly be adapted to fit essentially anyone who’s not a straight, cis white guy. Which means that even though Grace can’t relate directly to Will’s fight, she’s got a fight of her own as a woman that is likely giving her a little perspective. And she refuses to let her father off the hook for this one.
During another dinner at 9C, Marilyn decides to toast her son, grateful that he gave Martin his blood. Martin’s pretending like he took it, and Will’s too tired to say that he knows the truth, but Grace? Grace isn’t going to let this go. When Martin excuses himself to take his medication, she tells Marilyn that he refused Will’s blood. And when Marilyn asks why Will didn’t say anything, Will tells her that he’s taking a page from her book: it’s easier when everything’s not a fight. But easy isn’t really worth it, and Marilyn knows it. Which is why she rails on Martin the second he comes back into the living room. It’s not often that Marilyn loses her cool, which is what makes it all the more satisfying that she loses it in defense of her son, saying that “There are some things in life that you have to fight about” (and god, isn’t that the truth?). But she can’t get through to Martin; he escapes to the terrace to avoid confrontation, leaving Will to follow him and finally get everything out in the open.
Growing up in a conservative hometown, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say something along the lines of “So-and-so’s a great person, but I just don’t believe in their lifestyle,” as if acknowledging how good that person is somehow excuses their own blatant homophobia. And I got that vibe the second Martin tells Will that the refusal of his blood wasn’t personal. Will gets that vibe, too, telling Martin, “It’s the most personal thing in the world,” and finally sets the guy straight. Will tells him about the hoops he had to jump through to actually donate the blood, that because of the insane laws put in place, he had to lie on the forms and say he’s been celibate for a year, even though he’s HIV negative and in a committed, monogamous relationship with McCoy; he tells him that “Even when we have nine kinds of proof, we’re still told we’re tainted.” You can tell that he’s starting to get through to Martin, who acknowledges that the fight must be draining, acknowledges his own ignorance and seems to hear Will when he tells him that Martin needs to keep growing as Will needs to keep fighting. And when Martin apologizes, it seems like he’s taken what Will has said to heart.
I’ve got to hand it to this show for knowing how to handle such important issues, and I know I’ve said this a few times before this season. But we never really got episodes like this during the original run (which is probably a product of the time it aired), and to see that they’re not afraid to go there, and that they’re able to go there so beautifully, makes me so proud to be a fan of this show. And it makes me so grateful that Will & Grace continues to be the lifeline that it has been for the last twenty years. The fight may be alive and well, but it’s things like “Bad Blood” that serve as a reminder that it’s not a solitary one.
Meanwhile, Jack’s wedding and play are stressing him the hell out, and something’s got to give. Of course, everyone wants their wedding to be perfect, and for Jack, that means getting the unicorn dessert station he’s dreamed of his whole life. The problem is, said unicorn dessert station doesn’t fit into Karen’s vision for her best friend’s wedding. And since Karen is paying for the whole shebang, Jack feels like he doesn’t have a say. But since the dessert station means so much to him, Grace tells him to put his foot down, and he goes behind Karen’s back to try to secure his unicorn. One call from Wedding Planner to let her know what’s up, though, and Karen immediately vetoes Jack’s wishes, since it doesn’t jive with how she pictured the wedding. You know there’s got to be a reason why she won’t hear Jack out on anything wedding-related (and it’s not just because she’s paying for everything), but before they can get to the root of it, Jack gets a text from Rory’s sister telling him she will no longer be the Mary Todd to his Abe. No worries though; Karen is more than happy to step in..as long as Mary Todd gets a couple of lines in this one-man show. When Jack refuses, Karen backs down quickly. But come on…my girl doesn’t give up that easily. And honestly, Jack should know that by now.
During the show, Karen decides to ad lib her way through the scene she has with Jack, and it’s very reminiscent of season four’s “Hocus Focus,” where she decides to break out of her assistant role in Jack’s magic show to do a couple of her own tricks. She got a great reaction from the audience then, she’s getting a pretty good reaction from the audience now, and it’s irritating Jack to no end, to the point where he can’t help but air everything out on stage. And while they try to stay in character the whole time (I lost it at “P-Town sausage party” and I really hope you did, too), Jack finally breaks and tells Karen that he doesn’t want her money for the wedding or the play, if her money means he doesn’t get a say in either. It’s rare that Jack and Karen fight like this, and when they do, it’s not like they’re mad at each other for very long. You know that things are going to work out soon, but you also know that it’s serious when Jack decides to do something like refuse Karen’s money (because come on…when has he ever refused Karen’s money?). Karen knows it too, and for a woman who rarely apologizes to anyone ever, she’s quick to offer up a heartfelt “I’m sorry” once the audience leaves.
After the show, Karen explains her logic behind her actions; she just wants the play and the wedding to be perfect for Jack because she loves him, and she’s sad that she did something to cause him to not want her at the wedding (did…did they cut the part where Jack said he didn’t want her there? Because I have yet to find the part where he actually said that). Jack tells her that the wedding will only be perfect if it’s his version of perfect, and Karen completely hears him. She gets re-invited to the wedding and still gets to pay for everything, unicorn dessert station and all. This storyline was another classic example of how this show is able to balance the weight of a storyline like Will and Grace’s with the levity of Jack and Karen’s fight. The ability to recognize when to throw in the comic relief is amazing. I will always live for more Gaybraham Twinkin’. I will always live for songs like “Me for Your Thoughts.”
And I will spend the rest of my days trying to figure out how they got away with those unicorn jokes. Because damn.
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- Goodbye, 30-minute scene of Abe Lincoln manscaping. We hardly knew ye.
- “Okay, first of all, that is gross.” “And you’ll be first in line.” “HELL YES.” Look, Grace’s enthusiasm for the unicorn dessert station is endearing as hell, and if your heart didn’t grow three sizes after that, I don’t know what to do with you.
- Related: the only thing that makes the whole unicorn deal better is the blooper that came out of it:
- I would not be me if I didn’t point this out: the year on the penny Jack wears is the year that Will & Grace first premiered (1998), and I know it’s such a small detail, but it’s a brilliant detail. Well done, show.
- Do I want to know what was in the shadow puppet sequence of Gaybraham Twinkin’ that made the police tell Jack to cut it?
- “Due to circumstances beyond my control, I don’t want to do the show anymore.” Um, I would like to use this for my general everyday life, please.
- I absolutely love this show for using Nurse Sheila for literally any medically-based plot ever, like she’s the only nurse in existence in this universe. It makes me so happy.
- Sure, Gaybraham Twinkin’ is fine and all, but where is THIS one-woman show?
- Will I ever be over Shu Shu? No. No I will not:
- “On a first date, we swap medical histories the way straight people swap pictures of themselves at the same Ed Sheeran concert.” Between this and “You’re every woman that gets bangs,” the way this show manages to sneak something that makes me laugh into such a heavy moment is incredible and exactly why I love everything and everyone involved so much.
- Finally, a programming note: next week begins Samira Wiley’s episode arc, which means that this is probably going to be the last coherent recap you’ll get from me for the foreseeable future. The ability to form sentences was fun while it lasted. Please enjoy the meltdown I’m sure to have over the next three episodes.
What did you think of “Bad Blood?” Let’s talk in the comments.