Will & Grace Season 3, Episode 10
“Of Mouse and Men”
Posted by Sarah
The problem with an episode like last week’s “Bi-Plane” (you know…aside from the blatant biphobia and the inability/refusal to clean that shit up) is that it colors your perception of whatever episode comes directly after it. Had “Of Mouse and Men” aired any other week, I’m certain I would have enjoyed the hell out of it; this episode was one of those classic examples of Will & Grace getting an important message out there while also balancing the weight of that message with some ridiculous fun comedy. But I’ve got to say…there’s something about Will giving one of his patented speeches about acceptance and living your truth as a gay man DIRECTLY AFTER spouting all of this harmful nonsense about bisexuality not being real and people who identify as bisexual essentially killing time before they end up identifying as gay that really riles me up for all the wrong reasons. Instead of wanting to stand up and cheer like I wanted to during the history lesson Will gave his young date in “Who’s Your Daddy” or his heart to heart with Martin in “Bad Blood,” I found myself kind of surprised at the audacity to have him be the champion of conquering internalized homophobia after he spent the majority of last week trying to invalidate a portion of his own community.
The hypocrisy is real, kids. The hypocrisy is so real. Let’s get into it.
What I thought was going to be an overdue Will/Karen storyline turned out to be the second to two Karen-less episodes this season, as Will heads up to Blattsville to deal with a PR nightmare for the Millstones. One of the players on the team made some homophobic comments about a teammate in front of a reporter, and since Will’s a gay lawyer, he’s clearly the person Karen needs to make this mess go away. But once he meets Hector, the player who made these comments, he quickly realizes that Hector is acting out like this because he’s closeted. Hector is feeling the pressure from every possible direction. As the only son in his family, he doesn’t want to disappoint his father. As a public figure, he doesn’t want to lose the endorsement deal he secured. As a role model for the younger generation, he doesn’t want to stop being a hero to the kids who look up to him. And while Will tries to understand the predicament Hector is in, he knows that this guy is going to be miserable if he keeps living a lie.
Homophobia and internalized homophobia in sports have definitely been touched on across a number of different shows; at least two different SVU plots over the years come to my mind, it was a big part of Dana Fairbanks’ arc for the first season of the original L Word, and I’m sure there are others I’m not even thinking of right now. And now that Karen owns a baseball team, it’s not all that surprising that Will & Grace would go down this route. As a standalone episode, I do admire the message that Will brings to the table. The sentiment that Hector would be a hero to the one gay kid in the mix, looking up to him because he had the courage to stand up for who he is? That’s exactly what I expect this show to deliver. And the fact that Will makes a point to clarify that he’s not pressuring Hector to come out shows how much care usually goes into plots like these, into making sure the message that comes across to the viewers is the right one. I also loved that this storyline didn’t have the patented sitcom ending where everything’s resolved at the end of the half hour. Because as much as we have progressed as a society, the decision to come out could very well ruin Hector’s career, and to wrap this story up in a tidy little ribbon would have felt irresponsible. It felt right to end it with the question of whether or not Hector would come out still hanging in the air. It’s the kind of thing that makes me proud to be a fan of this show.
I just can’t stop thinking about “Bi-Plane,” about all the things Will said last week, and about how he seemed to learn absolutely nothing from it. And it just takes so much away from this episode for me.
I’m not sure who’s responsible for the order in which these episodes air, but I would like to have a word with them. “Of Mouse and Men” would have fared so much better in my eyes with a little more distance from last week’s mess of an episode. The things that Will said during “Bi-Plane” are still pretty fresh, and I am in no way confident that the lesson he was supposed to learn from all of that actually got through to him. So when he’s encouraging Hector to live his truth, all I’m thinking about is how he literally just got done telling Trevor that his truth is invalid. You can’t have it both ways. And because for whatever reason, this show can’t see that, it just takes away from the significance of this week’s message. It doesn’t feel as genuine to me as it usually does, because in the back of my mind, I’m still hearing Will dismiss the B in LGBTQ. I’m still thinking about how he felt so comfortable telling Trevor that he doesn’t really know himself. It’s a shame, because the message in this episode was an important one. But how can we truly take this episode for everything it’s supposed to be if we pretend like “Bi-Plane” never happened?
Before Will made the trip to Blattsville, he tells his mother that his surrogate is pregnant, and she is thrilled that she’s going to be a grandmother again. But when Grace tells Marilyn that she’s pregnant too, Marilyn’s convinced that Grace is in crisis. So she does what any self-respecting stepmother would do: she tells the beagle breeders she’s meeting with that they have a chance to adopt Grace’s baby, and she lets Grace continue to believe that she’s really meeting with them for a chance to design their brand-new Park Avenue apartment. Because nothing could possibly go wrong with that plan.
Listen, I know I excuse a lot because of Sitcom Land; it’s a magical place where suspension of disbelief reigns supreme and crazy hijinks run rampant, and I love it. I’m not even mad about Marilyn going behind Grace’s back to find a couple who will adopt her baby, because that kind of thing ABSOLUTELY tracks with this woman, and I am in no way surprised that this was her thought process. But I can’t even count the times I wrote down “Whaaaaaat is happening” in my notes when it came to this plot. What I can’t wrap my head around is how this couple who’s after Grace’s baby don’t even give it a second thought to treat Grace the exact same way they would treat a beagle they’re looking to breed; I mean, I’ve never tried to adopt a kid either, but I’m pretty certain you can get all the information you need to know through a few common sense questions. It’s also weird that Grace is legitimately running through an obstacle course to get a design job. Like, I know we’ve seen you spiral under her own self-doubt before, and I get wanting to do whatever it takes to land a job, but girl…come on. Is this seriously what happens when Karen’s not around to pull you out of your head with a charming little lullaby about drugs? It isn’t until the couple literally feed Grace a piece of hot dog as a treat for finishing the course that she puts an end to this weird canine test and asks what’s up, and honestly, it took her long enough.
For as odd as all of that was, it did lead to a really touching moment between Grace and Marilyn. Once Grace confronts Marilyn, she realizes that this was just Marilyn’s strange way of trying to help. After all, the prospect of being a single parent is a scary one, and Marilyn couldn’t imagine raising a child on her own. But Grace knows what Will’s childhood was like. Grace knows that George wasn’t really around to help with the kids (which kind of goes against my perception of George, based on the things we learned from the original run’s early seasons, but continue). Grace knows that despite Marilyn’s belief to the contrary, she raised three sons on her own, including the one who’s going to help Grace raise her own child. I love the way Grace is so ready to give Marilyn the credit she deserves, even after everything that happened during the episode. Their relationship may not be the easiest one in the world, but you know that underneath it all, there is love there. It even leads Grace to ask Marilyn to be her child’s grandmother; and it leads Marilyn to say yes.
Finally, we’ve got Jack and Estefan coming through with the physical comedy that actually makes sense. Sure, it’s a filler plot, but I will honestly take anything you’ve got when it comes to these two. When they realize they’ve got a mouse in their apartment, Jack and Estefan’s brainstorming on how to get rid of it quickly devolves into an argument over who’s the problem solver in the relationship and who’s the lovable ditz. This would have been enough of a platform on its own, but of course, we get something a little more specific. Because of course Estefan decides their dynamic is similar to that of Will and Grace’s. And of course they’re going to argue about which one of them is the Will, and which one is the Grace.
The Will and Grace frame for this argument works really well. Will’s always been seen as the more practical, level-headed one, while Grace tends to escalate things to a level they should never be, so the comparison definitely makes sense. Add to this the fact that Jack’s never been one to pass up getting a few quips in against his friends, and it’s the perfect foundation for Jack and Estefan’s back and forth. The rest of this storyline isn’t anything revolutionary; Jack falls back on the predictable solution of filling their apartment with mouse traps before realizing they’ve backed themselves into the bedroom with no real way to move around, forcing Jack to climb on chairs and swing from light fixtures to get to the front door. The mouse makes its way onto Jack’s head, causing the two of them to freak the hell out and race across all the mouse traps. They eventually end up outside of their apartment, tending to their wounds and wondering why they need to compare themselves to Will and Grace in the first place. It’s basically Sitcom 101, but it’s a nice palette cleanser nestled in between the weight of Will’s storyline and whatever the hell was going on over in 9C before Grace and Marilyn’s heart to heart. And the end scene of Grace being the one to catch the mouse after it ran across the hall, while Will’s standing on top of a chair, screaming and ready to attack with a tennis racket? That’s just the cherry on top.
So even though the timing of this episode detracted from the more important points, “Of Mouse and Men” was a considerable improvement from the disaster of “Bi-Plane.” Now, if we could just bring my girl Karen back to me, and give her more than a 30-second plot like she got last week, we’ll be on the way to golden.
Honey…What’s This? What’s Happening? What’s Going On?
- “Three bedrooms, two baths, no children. They’re living my dream.” Oh cool, looks like Marilyn and I have the same dream.
- Marilyn talking about her sex life with Martin in front of Grace is everything I needed.
- Stealing “Forty-yay” for when I’m inevitably going to need it.
- “You know I always wake up five minutes after my penis.” And once again, Jack McFarland leaves me a broken woman.
- Alexa, play “Chandelier.”
- Related: props to Jack for pronouncing it “Chan-de-le-heer,” that truly sent me.
- “I went to nursing school! …Wait, did I?” Guys, remember when Jack was a student nurse and was the most promising student since Pilar Palabunda? What a time.
- Estefan tricking Jack into thinking the elevator dinged is yet another reason why this guy is a gift, and I will love him forever.
- Look, Grace’s plot was weird, but let’s take a moment to appreciate the fact that she took a moment to appreciate the hot dogs.
- “Maybe we’re both Grace…oh god, we’re doomed.” That made me laugh harder than it probably should have, but it’s fine.
What did you think of “Of Mouse and Men?” Let’s chat in the comments.
Featured Image Source: NBC