Will & Grace Season 3, Episode 6
Posted by Sarah
Welcome back, kids! New year, new episode, and I have to admit, it was a bit of a mixed bag for me. On one hand, we’ve got a great new addition to the Will & Grace universe in Demi Lovato. They set up her character so well this week, and I’m truly excited to see what she has in store in the future. On the other hand, we got a Grace/Jack story that didn’t do it for me the way I wanted it to. All of the pieces were there, but it was almost like they weren’t quite sure how to put it together. And yeah, I know not everything can be a winner, but with so few episodes of the series left, it’s disappointing when the potential of a storyline isn’t seen all the way through. The show must go on, though, so let’s get down to it.
Will’s about to make a huge step in his journey to becoming a father. He’s found a promising surrogate with excellent reviews, and needs a ride up to Newburgh to meet with her. Luckily, Karen’s heading to the ballpark in Blattsville and passes through Newburgh to get there, so our unsung brOTP decides to hit the road together. Once they reach their destination, Will finally meets Jenny, and oh my god, kids, I love her. I really do. She’s got a great vibe, she’s quick with a joke, and she’s Will’s opposite in all the right ways, setting it up for one hell of a dynamic down the road. Will, however, needs a bit more convincing. It’s one thing to see the dirty dishes scattered around the apartment–ones that he feels the need to clean once Jenny excuses herself to finish up a work thing–or the crooked pictures hanging up on the walls. But it isn’t until Will discovers how Jenny makes a living for herself that he really starts to rethink everything. In order to pay the bills, Jenny works as a cam girl, flirting with guys over the internet for tips. This immediately raises a red flag for Will, since there was no mention of this on her profile, and the thought of her doing it while she’s pregnant with his child freaks him out. And even though she doesn’t drink or smoke or put any harmful substances into her body, doing everything she can to ensure that the baby will be healthy, Will still says he has a lot to think about, not ready to give her a yes.
Look, it’s not surprising to me that all of this gives Will pause, but still, it’s disappointing that he’s so quick to judge Jenny for doing what she has to do to get by. Will comes from a pretty well-to-do family, and aside from that hot second twenty years ago when he lost his law practice, he’s had a steady, well-paying job that affords him the luxury of not having to worry about how he’s going to pay the rent next month (or Jack’s, for that matter, since he’s one of the people financially supporting him, too). I think it’s safe to say that he doesn’t know what it’s like to take jobs that other people will look down on you for taking, so that you can support yourself. And it’s not like that’s a bad thing, but it absolutely colors his perception even if he doesn’t mean it to. The cam work in no way changes who Jenny is, and it in no way changes the stellar reviews she’s received from the people who have used her as a surrogate. But while Will is never intentionally hurtful, he just can’t see past Jenny’s job and the apartment. And that just sucks.
While Will is trying to process all the things he’s learning about Jenny, Karen stumbles into the bedroom of Jenny’s brother, a disabled war veteran who’s expecting her to be yet another stranger telling him how brave he is while they hold back the tears. Karen’s not the type to consider him inspiration porn, though, and I love that it wasn’t the route the show ended up taking with this plot. After she helps him with his pills and learns a little more about him–like the fact that he was engaged before his deployment to Iraq, and his fiancee left once she found out about his injury–they realize that they have a few things in common when it comes to their love lives (or current lack thereof). Which of course turns into some heavy flirting. Which of course turns into sex.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely live for flirty Karen. It’s just frustrating that they still haven’t addressed everything that happened at the end of last season, save for the two seconds she called herself a pansexual superstar during the season premiere and the admittedly great joke about Judith Light in the Tenth Street baths this week. It’s frustrating that Karen tells Jenny’s brother she hasn’t seen a lot of action since her divorce, like getting my hopes way up with Nikki and then shattering all of my dreams over the course of three episodes never happened. And while I would absolutely like to pretend the end of that arc never happened, it did. It was a mess, and it needs to be cleaned up…just not in the way the show’s trying to do it. It’s like they threw a napkin into a pool of water and hoped it would soak everything up, even though making a canonically not straight character profess her heterosexuality in a grave misstep of a send up to an iconic moment in LGBTQ+ history is roughly the equivalent of a goddamn waterfall. But that’s just me.
Her encounter with Jenny’s brother proves to be more than just a sex thing, though; it also makes her give a little more consideration to those who aren’t walking the same paths that she is. And as much as I live for flirty Karen, I live even more for the moments where she gets to be the voice of reason. Once she and Will are back at 9C, Will’s convinced that hiring Jenny as his surrogate will help save her from the questionable choices she’s made thus far. But before he can text her to let her know his decision, he gets a text from Jenny letting him know that she doesn’t want to do this with him, wishing him luck on his journey. Will can’t believe that she’s passing on him. Karen, on the other hand, absolutely can, and calls him out for being a snob. And this is where I stand up and cheer for my girl. I’ve said before that sometimes it feels like people dismiss her advice because of how over the top she is 95% of the time. But no one can drop a truth bomb on you quite like Karen can. Because while Will is trying to defend the things he said about Jenny and her life choices, Karen brings her friend back to reality in an incredibly clear way:
Will: She’s getting paid to show strange men her body!
Karen: And you want her to stick to getting paid to let strange men put babies in her body.
Give it up for my girl, kids. Just like that, she’s able to show Will how misguided his thinking is, and to remind him not to be so quick to judge, because the ones who are walking different paths just might surprise you (and okay, sure, that part of it might have been a sex thing for Karen, but the general sentiment is there, right?). Seeing the error of his ways, Will makes the trek back to Newburgh to apologize to Jenny face to face. When he does, he tells her that he really needs to do this with someone like her, who has done this before when he has absolutely no clue what he’s doing. And seeing how truly sorry he is, and how much he wants this baby, Jenny agrees to be his surrogate.
I am so here for the way Jenny and Will play off each other. The way their personalities contrast is perfect, an Odd Couple situation that I think fits so well in the show. It makes me wish that they had cast Demi Lovato for more than just three episodes, because I would love to see how their relationship evolves over the course of the surrogacy, and two more guest spots seems like a criminally short time to do that. But I’m excited to see what they do with her upcoming episodes. This first appearance was superb, definitely worthy of the hype, making Jenny an incredibly promising addition to the Will & Grace family.
Meanwhile, AnnieCon is upon us, and Jack is desperate to get into the sold out event celebrating the beloved musical, since Sarah Jessica Parker is slated to be the convention’s special guest. And since anyone who has played Annie gets in, he hatches the perfect plan: get Grace to swipe the name tag of someone who was actually in Annie and score free admission. Grace is the perfect tagalong. Aside from the obvious, she’s also always wanted to play Annie; in fact, she thought she had the perfect opportunity to do so when her mother directed a production of it in Schenectady, only to be told that she wasn’t Annie material after her audition (which is kind of upsetting to hear from your mother, but also, it was Bobbi Adler?). So this is the perfect arena to let Grace live her dream. Thus Grace becomes “Ramona Delaney” for a day. And Ramona Delaney is apparently a damn legend in the Annie-verse, which lets Grace bask in someone else’s glory for a little while. That is, until Molly McGann, a fellow Annie, comes up to “Ramona” and throws a drink in her face. Because it turns out, Ramona Delaney was Molly’s understudy before she went all Showgirls on Molly and spiked her water bottle with Tabasco, causing her to lose her voice and the role (eat your heart out, Nomi Malone). And since Sarah Jessica Parker ends up being a no-show, there’s only one way to settle this once and for all: a “Tomorrow” sing-off to prove who is the better Annie.
Grace isn’t the only one with a rival here. Jack runs into Jerry Sussman (hi, Seth Rudetsky!), a former audition accompanist who later became a big pianist, and Jerry does not hold back on his opinions about Jack. He’s very quick to critique our Poodle’s audition style, pointing out notes he missed and judging his singing voice. It was fun, but I just feel like so much more could have been done with this appearance on the show. They set up the whole Jack/Jerry feud to have some real potential, and they didn’t really do anything with it other than have Jerry throw out those few quips about Jack’s singing. Sure, a full on theater battle between the two might not have been super appropriate at AnnieCon, but that’s kind of what would have made it so great? But it’s not like there would have been much time for that anyway; there’s a sing-off to be had.
Of course, Molly McGann’s got pipes. But Grace is determined to play out her Annie fantasy. So she goes out there, she sings her tone-deaf heart out, garnering an alarming amount of applause for the performance (honestly, it sounded like way more than polite clapping for a legend who maybe doesn’t have it anymore, whaddya doin’, AnnieCon?), and she’s back on cloud nine once again. But just as she’s saying that nothing could bring her down from this high, she gets yet another drink in the face, this time courtesy of the real Ramona Delaney. And come on…after that performance, can you really blame Ramona for wanting a little payback? I mean, the woman played Tracy Turnblad AND Eponine on an Alaskan Cruise, for god’s sake.
I don’t know, you guys, I just wasn’t feeling this plot the way I hoped I would. Grace and Jack have had so many great storylines together in the past; before this one, I honestly can’t think of a plot that I didn’t love, which makes it disappointing that AnnieCon fell a little flat for me (if you want to see how golden one of these “fake your way through an event” plots can be, I urge you to visit “Tea and a Total Lack of Sympathy” from season two of the original run, where Jack and Grace try to get on an Antiques Roadshow-esque TV show). On paper, it sounds fantastic, classic Jack and Grace, something they could really play around with and make so much fun. There have been so many times where they just let each other spiral in their zaninessAnd I don’t know if it was because more of the energy for this episode was focused on Will’s storyline–which would honestly be understandable, as it’s the one that’s continuing a major story arc for the season–but acted out, it felt like a shell of the kind of plot I’m used to from these lovable nuts.
We’re coming down to the end of the series (again); lackluster plots like this really stick out now, because there aren’t a lot of opportunities left for our Fab Four to get into these crazy antics. I want my show to go out with a bang. I want Grace and Jack to have one more adventure together that’s up there with fighting over a $30,000 teapot. I want them to have the kind of plot they deserve.
But I guess there’s always tomorrow. For now, anyway.
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- Bless you, Karen Walker:
- Guys…does Jenny’s brother even have a name? Because I don’t remember hearing them say it once during the whole show. Are we just not giving people names now?
- Grace and Jack getting all giggly over all the pianist/penis jokes was everything, and also exactly why I love when they get to play together. That’s the kind of energy I should have been feeling throughout their storyline.
- “I just flushed a toilet myself for the first time in twenty years.” Listen, I feel like this absolutely tracks for Karen, and I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Rosario ABSOLUTELY deserved a hell of a raise.
- “Apparently, Sarah Jessica Parker is running late because she did not believe this was a real thing.”
- I’m very torn between wanting to know the position Karen accidentally invented and never needing that image in my head ever.
- “That’s rich coming from you.” “Honey, everything’s rich coming from me.”
- Moment of appreciation for the look on Jerry’s face as Grace sings “Tomorrow.” The dude gets it, if the AnnieCon audience doesn’t.
- They weren’t kidding when they said Ramona Delaney was a legend: the real Ramona was played by Aileen Quinn, who played Annie in the 1982 film version.
- If we don’t start referring to surrogacy as being co-founders of a startup, what are we even doing?
- As you probably know, Shelley Morrison passed away during the Winter hiatus. I know I should have expected that in memoriam card at the end of the episode, but for some reason I didn’t, and I quickly became a crying mess. It was lovely. Te amo, Mami.
What did you think of “Performance Anxiety?” Let’s chat in the comments!