Will & Grace Season 3, Episode 9
Posted by Sarah
When I saw the title for this episode, I thought maybe, just maybe, this show would finally address everything they botched about Karen’s sexuality at the end of last season. I mean, come on…we’re halfway through the season now; it’s about time they started to fix the damage that was done during “Jack’s Big Gay Wedding.” Let’s clear this up, send Karen on her merry bisexual way, and let me catch my breath now that I can finally stop yelling about how nobody’s doing anything about this. Personally, I would have liked to have seen it happen earlier, but at least it could be happening now, so I would be able to throw at least a little credit their way.
Yeah, that clearly did not happen. But what we ended up getting was…a step? I guess? Except it really wasn’t? Like at all?
Kids, this was a weird one. I wish I had an answer for what my show is doing right now. I wish they knew how to treat bisexuality like the very real part of the LGBTQ+ community it is (it’s not that hard, you guys, I swear it’s not). I wish I could get an explanation as to what the actual fuck was going on in that writers room when they decided this was a good idea. I wish I didn’t have to keep addressing this in my recaps about a show that very obviously should know better. But here we are. And it’s so disappointing. This really isn’t the note I want my show to be going out on, but for some reason, they are just really set on wading in their mistakes. So unfortunately, this is what we have to work with this week.
Grace’s niece Fiona swings by 9C for a visit with her fiancé Trevor in tow. But what should be a lovely, run-of-the-mill mini family reunion turns in to one giant problematic mess when Will and Grace see the way Trevor, who is bisexual, falls into a few gay stereotypes. Of course, up until they realize Fiona and Trevor are engaged, Will and Grace keep seeing themselves in them. And thinking back on the short time they dated each other, they’re convinced that Trevor isn’t bisexual at all–because they’re convinced that bisexuality isn’t a thing at all–and they decide to intervene before Fiona makes what they’re certain is a big mistake by marrying him. They are so sure that they’re doing the right thing by telling them who they think Trevor is. And I was just left speechless during the entire thing.
Why? WHY? Why are we here?
I don’t really know what to do with this. To the show’s credit, this storyline does try to call out some extremely biphobic points of view for what they are, and – thanks to Trevor and Fiona defending themselves to Will and Grace – show how hypocritical they can be. Will in particular showed a very ugly side to him this week, saying that the B in LGBTQ isn’t a real letter and claiming that bisexuality is essentially a stepping stone to coming out as gay (the latter isn’t even the first time he’s done that; back in Season 7 of the original run, when he found out that both he and Karen were sleeping with Karen’s pastry chef, he called pansexuality “a rest stop on the highway to homo”). It’s the worst kind of stunning to see a character who has had quite a few killer speeches during the revival about fighting for acceptance as a gay man have this kind of bias against a part of his own community. And I know that biphobia within the community continues to be a very real thing for some strange reason. Maybe they were thinking that having a character we’ve known and loved for decades confront his own hypocrisy would make the whole thing hit harder. And maybe, if we were living in a world where the events of “Jack’s Big Gay Wedding” never happened, it actually would have hit the way I can only assume they wanted it to. But here’s the thing: “Jack’s Big Gay Wedding” very unfortunately happened. Karen’s bisexuality was completely erased. And seeing this storyline now, when they haven’t even tried to address the fact that Karen announced she was straight even though her whole entire history begs to differ, is so extremely infuriating.
It almost feels like the writers heard the outrage over what they did to Karen at the end of last season and came up with this storyline as a response. And if that was, in fact, what they were doing, I do not for the life of me understand why Karen not only wasn’t the one involved in this plot, but to add insult to injury, was given such a microscopic, barely there filler plot this week. The audacity they have to call out bisexual erasure the way they did in this episode while STILL refusing to acknowledge the bisexual erasure that happened on their own goddamn turf last year is mind-blowing. Giving Karen a couple of jokes here and there about hooking up with Judith Light or – as was the case this week – Jackie O fixes nothing when you have yet to admit that you majorly fucked up. And it just astounds me that not a single person working on this show stopped to think that maybe this isn’t the storyline to put out there right now. For a show that has actually used its revival from time to time to address and fix the flawed representation of the original run, and for a show that is a lifeline and a safe space for so many, the carelessness here hurts. I’m so sad, and I’m so confused.
By the end of the episode, Will and Grace start to see the error of their thinking, and I guess this was supposed to be some profound teaching moment for the two of them that provides the space for them to better themselves. But I’m not convinced this teaching moment actually took. Nothing in the way they talked about what happened once Fiona and Trevor left made me think that anything they may have learned will stick with them. There was no real reflection about how they acted with Trevor and Fiona, no real thought about how wrong their stance on bisexuality is. And without that, the whole storyline feels pointless. Will and Grace acknowledge that they were only willing to learn when they were shamed into it, but did they really learn anything if they seem so quick to dismiss this like they’re never going to think about it again? What is the point of addressing biphobia if you’re only going to do more damage?
One final note on this before I move on: it’s super frustrating that THIS was the storyline Billie Lourd was given to play with, because I actually really love Fiona. She’s such a fun character, and I wish she had been introduced earlier in the series so the opportunity to have a lot more time with her could have been there. And good lord, Fiona talking about the Adler flame in her grandmother’s voice was so emotional; it was yet another wonderful tribute to Bobbi Adler and Debbie Reynolds, and I don’t understand how they were able to make it through that scene at all. Any other week, I would have been going on and on about how much I loved this part (because, despite the mess around it, I loved this so much). I would have raved about the casting, and about how I was so glad they were able to do this before the series ended again. But considering everything that happened during the A-story, everything that was wrong with the plot took up all my energy, and it’s such a shame that it did. That tribute deserved better than the episode it got. Billie deserved better than the episode she got. We all deserved better than the episode we got.
Karen deserved better than she got in this episode, too. Let’s be real, it was a funny concept, Karen Walker being forced to fly coach on a flight to Miami to scout a new third baseman for the Millstones. But it’s such a limited one, and you can tell the writers thought so, too. A few jokes about Karen not realizing the plane even went beyond first class and trying to figure out how they shrunk the vodka down to travel size are great, but that’s really all you can do with a plot like this. And even with a lovely bonding moment between Karen and Friday as Friday tries to calm her boss down from the panic attack she’s having while everyone else in coach is just chilling and watching old episodes of According to Jim, it felt like they basically forgot about her this week (although can we talk about how much Friday has come to genuinely care about Karen, even after Karen basically destroyed her life when they first met? My whole heart, you guys)? Like…Jack was on the EXACT SAME FLIGHT; how hard would it have been to have him panic run from first class to discuss using his hall pass with his best friend? There was so much potential in that, and I can’t believe no one thought to use it.
One bright spot in this episode, though, is how pure Jack and Estefan’s love for each other is. Estefan’s giving Jack the First Class treatment on this flight to Miami as they begin their vacation for their one-year anniversary. So of course, now would be the perfect time for Ryan Phillippe, the guy who’s number one on Jack’s hall pass list, to take the seat next to our Poodle, lamenting about how he can only give a convincing performance if he experiences everything his characters experience, and his next performance just happens to include a gay sex scene. So he obviously needs to have sex with a guy before their plane lands.
Just totally normal everyday occurrences on this show, nothing out of the ordinary at all.
Listen, this plot was another entry into the world of classic Sitcom Land coincidences, and it was honestly nice to have this as a breather from the mess Will and Grace were making of everything. Jack freaking out over his circumstances was so delightful to see, and I could honestly watch it forever. But what was great about this storyline in particular was that it gave us another opportunity to see just how much Jack has grown through this revival. Original Run Jack wouldn’t have thought twice about taking Ryan to the bathroom and joining the Mile High Club. But now, Jack has Estefan, and he’s so in love with his husband. And even though Estefan initially gives him the green light to take advantage of his hall pass, he’s still hesitant to go through with it. It makes him think that maybe Estefan is falling out of love with him, if he’s so willing to let Jack cheat on him. You can see how genuinely heartbroken Jack is at the thought of that, and it is so obvious that Estefan is the only one he wants, you can’t help but feel for him here.
Just as he’s about to make good on his hall pass, though, Estefan barges in and tells Jack that he’s not okay with this at all. And if he was gearing up for a fight, it turns out he didn’t have to fight at all. Clearly, their marriage is the most important thing to Jack, and the fact that he turned down the chance to be with Ryan Phillippe that pretty much fell into his lap speaks volumes on that. It would have been kind of shocking to see Jack do this back in the original run; we were so used to him jumping from one relationship to the next like it was nothing, so it would have been completely normal to see him jump at the chance for a little celebrity sex. But to see Jack go through with it now would have been upsetting and, frankly, out of character with the person he’s grown into over the course of the revival. I am so glad the show didn’t take him down the route he would have gone in the past, because it honestly would have made an already disappointing episode even harder to watch.
So yeah, this moment was sweet, and exactly the kind of thing I want to see from this show. It just sucks that it was overshadowed by the shitshow that was going on in 9C. It would be really great if I could get this weirdly biphobic taste out of my mouth by the time the series ends again. Because I really don’t want to think about what happens if I don’t.
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- “Did we just hit Santa Claus?”
- “I don’t get panic attacks, I cause panic attacks.” Never change, Karen Walker.
- “You have a whole bookshelf of books about butts.” “A lot of those were gifts…to myself.”
- I lost it when Jack called it Ryan’s Phillippenis, and I’m okay with being the broken person that joke turned me into.
- You know, it didn’t really occur to me to think about this until I saw a couple of people float the idea on Twitter, but I honestly wouldn’t mind it if Karen and Friday became a thing? But, of course, that would mean this show would actually have to clean up last season’s mess, so I guess that’s not happening…
- “I just handed out warm nuts to the guests without even giggling once.” Once again, Estefan Gloria is a gift we do not deserve.
- “Love means never having to say ‘I’ll wait on the toilet until you’re done.’”
- Finally, please let this video of Billie Lourd doing Bobbi’s Told Ya So dance warm your heart the way it did mine.
Are you as frustrated as I am with “Bi-Plane?” Let’s vent in the comments.
Featured Image Source: NBC