A domestic Sitcom about a gay man, Will Truman (Eric McCormack), and a straight woman, Grace Adler (Debra Messing), who are best friends and eventually roommates. The show chronicles the changes that their relationship undergoes as Grace dumps her fiancee and Will breaks up with Michael, his long-term boyfriend. They are also joined by Will's "friend" Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) and Grace's "assistant", the perpetually drunk millionaire Karen Walker (Megan Mullaly).The show is quite polarizing, it seems: it's critically acclaimed for its humor and fast-paced dialogue, but it's also highly criticized for the Unfortunate Implications that come along with poking fun at or accidentally reinforcing stereotypes about the gay community.For all its flaws, the show actually does pull off some good dramatic moments and genuinely funny dialogue and had a rather sweet series finale after eight seasons.And its also worth noting that Will and Grace is one of the few sitcoms in which all the four main actors won an Emmy, which is remarkable! (The only other two on record are All in the Family and The Golden Girls, so they're in good company.)
Babies Ever After: The series finale. Taken further by a time jump where we find that Will and Grace's son and daughter meet as college freshmen and are attracted to each other, and eventually marry several years down the road.
Beautiful All Along: Barry. Everyone thinks he looks awful at first. Get rid of his beard and glasses and trim his hair and suddenly everyone's attracted to him.
Brilliant, but Lazy: Jack has many talents if just applied himself such as the time he became a male nurse. He can also write really good homo-erotic novels but only when he's depressed.
Butch Lesbian: There is a recurring butch delivery woman character who seems to be into Grace, despite having a wife, and Jack and Will also have kite-selling friends, a butch/femme couple, who Jack nicknames "Starsky and Butch".
Elliot's mother, played by Rosie O'Donnell, is on the butch side. The notion of a butch lesbian recurs: Grace says at a Human Rights Campaign dinner that she got her eyebrows waxed in the men's room and learned how to rewire a lamp in the ladies' room; when Jack says that he wants artistic advice from a real woman rather than a bunch of lesbians, Grace says he should know better than to stereotype lesbians, and then wonders aloud whether she can get them to fix her watch.
This is subverted with a character played by Edie Falco who, along with her partner, plays a sexy, powerful real estate agent who is a lesbian.
But Not Too Gay: A common criticism of this show, regarding Will's love life. Ironic because Mc Cormack is straight but John Barrowman, who is gay, tested for the character of Will and was said to be "not gay enough".
Early on in the show we see Jack's one-nighters and friends from time to time, then we never actually see Jack with anyone again until he gets together with Stuart (briefly)
Camp Straight: Played for laughs in one episode. Jack gets into a gay men's chorus. Will quips, "Is the gay men's chorus really any gayer than the straight men's chorus?" Turns out that the chorus's very heterosexual and masculine soloist Owen is posing as a gay guy so he can join the chorus on their trip through Europe: "I love to sing choral music, but there's no room for a straight guy in that world. All I wanted was to sing and be accepted, and maybe dance a little too."
The Charmer: Leo, Grace's future husband and father of her child. Actually parodied in an episode where he and Grace find out Karen hates his guts despite the fact that everyone else loves him. The matter is resolved this way: "There. We're all friends now — on the surface where it counts".
Chew Bubblegum: From the episode "Ben? Her?": Grace: "Do whatever you want, 'cause today I'm handing out lollipops and ass whoopings, and I'm all out of lollipops."
Citizenship Marriage: Rosario's temporary marriage to Jack, and the source of a separate arc where Grace marries Will's Canadian boyfriend.
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Jack, Karen and Karen's later love interest played by Alec Baldwin. With Baldwin, we are never really sure how much of his insanity is true because there are some hints that he is indeed a government agent of some sort. Or he could just be completely bonkers.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: Karen throws a wild party and trashes Will's apartment in one episode. Her punishment? Will denies Karen her afternoon Martini (a.k.a. "dessert") — and makes her look at Grace's endless honeymoon photos.
Deadpan Snarker: Everyone at some point. Most often Will, especially in the first season. Eric McCormack went on record of saying that he was happy when Will became less of a straight man (pardon the pun) and got to do a lot more physical comedy (one of the first was when Will said something stupid to a cute bookstore employee; he puts him on hold, smacks himself in the head with the phone, screams out "Idiot," and resumes the conversation in less than two seconds.)
Earpiece Conversation: Jack tries hitting on a man while working in a retail store where he wears an earpiece; Will feeds him lines so he can look smart. The guy isn't taken in, finds Will, and asks him out.
Fiction 500: Stan's company, Walker Inc. We never really find out what it does (aside from a subsidiary called Walker Property Management that owns several New York apartment buildings of various quality,) or what it's worth, aside from the fact that it has left Stan and Karen ungodly rich. When Stan puts Karen on a budget, Karen wonders how she'll survive. She writes the number for Grace, who looks and says that Karen should be able to survive on the amount since Spain does.
Gag Boobs: "Das Boob". an entire episode built around this trope and arguably one of the best of the entire series. Due to error in a newspaper article about Grace appears in the accompanying photograph to have a huge rack. She then hears from a high school crush who wants to see her. The gang are convinced the illusion of her Gi-normous breasts are responsible. Karen convinces her to obtain the "waterbra" which later in the episode fails miserably and hilariously. While on Inside The Actors Studio Debra Messing stated that this episode was her personal favorite.
Grace (tries on the Gag Boobs): Leave it to a man to invent a bra filled with water...
Karen: They're worn by everyone in your condition. They make objects appear closer than they really are! Now let's buy that puppy and get the hell out of here...
Grace: No Karen I don't need this. I don't need lingerie that goldfish could live in... John likes me for me
Karen (laughing): ...Grace, Did John have a girlfriend in high school?
Grace: Yeah Judy Lombardosi...
Karen: Right and was her nickname..."Slutty Big Boobs"?!
Grace: Noooo! It was "Judy Lombard-look-at-dem-dozies" (beat) I'll take one in every color
Gay Conservative: Beverly Leslie. ("Oh, Benji, I can't stand the sight of all this...homosexual dancing!")
Also Ted Bauers, who runs for mayor in one episode. Will supports him because he's a gay man, without knowing anything about his policies. Will is then horrified when at a gathering Will hosts to support him, Bauers says homeless people should be bussed out of the city, and concludes his speech with "women in the home, force those foreigners to speak our language, and if God didn't want some people to be poor, He'd give them money."
Gayngst: Mostly averted, but toyed with when it comes to character histories.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In-universe with Karen; between her second and third marriage, she traveled around Asia, and once she was featured in a Japanese ad for an energy drink, she became a big sensation in Japan (so big, she's still being recognized by Japanese tourists to this very day.)
Getting Crap Past the Radar: In the episode "The Big Vent" Grace is listening through her heating vent and overhears a couple having an affair, the first line said by the man involved in the affair is "you taste good!" (I'm sure you can guess what he's referring to that "tastes" good) I'm amazed that line slipped past the censors.
Also, In "Bacon and Eggs" Jack gets Will to help him stalk Kevin Bacon. Of course, all is revealed eventually and included this very specific sexual reference as a throwaway line:
Jack (to Kevin Bacon, pointing at Will): You shouldn't be dancing with him! He's not your stalker your stalker is still at large!
Kevin (to Jack,pointing at Will): But you fingered this guy!
Jack: I did not, we were just holding hands.
In "Star Spangled Banter", Jack smooths out some turmoil existing between Karen and his son Elliott. When he's hugging her goodbye, Elliott asks Karen if he can come back and play with her Xbox and she says "of course." Then after he leaves, she looks at her gaming console.
Karen:Oh, would ya look at that, this thing is called an Xbox too!
When Grace gets kicked out of her card game, she says she's going to "play with herself" leading to her getting some strange looks, then she quickly corrects herself "I mean play BY myself".
Will and Vince's son has two daddies, of course. Will's married gay friends Joe and Larry have a daughter, Hannah. In season 3 Will and Jack turn up for a fun drunken gay party and find that all their gay friends are coupled up and have kids.
Het is Ew: Jack veered into this, especially when he would parrot some of the common arguments against gay rights (after shuffling around the genders:) "Heterosexuality is just wrong. If God had intended man and woman to be together, he would have given them both penises."
Hide Your Lesbians Except for references to Karen's bisexuality, and on several episodes that portray lesbians in a rather stereotypical light or as antagonists, the show has no positive, consistent, upstanding lesbian characters.
Hidden Depths: Jack proves to be more than a spoiled Man Child when helps Will come out and Barry become a real gay.
Hollywood Dateless: It's hard to believe someone with Will's looks, intellect, kind heart and at worst Adorkable charms hasn't got a legion of men competing for him.
Karen: Gosh honey... think I'm kinda jealous. I wish I had a handsome man visiting me at work Beverly (walks in): Well, well, well... Karen: Instead I have the world's oldest girl
And then there's:
Karen: What are you having for dessert, Honey?
Jack: I Think I'd like something fruity, with ladyfingers Beverly (Walks Up): Well, Well, Well...
Beverly (Spins around in chair): Well, Well, Well, Karen Walker. So nice to see you! Karen (Sitting in the adjacent chair): Ah, Beverly Leslie. If you were sitting on a phone book it'd be nice to see you too!
Beverly: Well, Well, Well... Karen Walker! I thought I smelled Gin and regret...
Ivy League For Everyone: Will and Grace met as freshman at Columbia, where they were also friends with Rob and Ellen. Averted, however, with Karen, who said she went to Sarah Lawrence (but could have been lying for the sake of a cheap lesbian joke,) but did attend college somewhere (it was the reason she did the dominatrix film.) It's not clear if Jack went to college at all.
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Subverted with Grace when Grace tells Leo that she doesn't care about his own happiness if it effects her negatively in any way.
Jeff Goldblum: Plays the character Scott Wooly in a short arc. Magnificently.
One rather golden moment was when Jack and Karen were playing with helium balloons and messing with their voices, Jack's went high pitched and squeaky, while Karen's was the same as hers was already like that.
Another funny one: Karen was using the shower in Grace's apartment and comes out with a towel around her head. She takes it off and her hair is completely dry, prompting Grace to ask how her hair dried so quickly; Karen answers "Money".
And in the series finale, Karen and Jack complain that sometimes they feel like supporting players on "the Will and Grace show" when their friends are acting self-absorbed.
Earlier, Will and Grace were arguing at Jack's one-man show he says "This is Just Jack, not the Will & Grace show!"
Negative Continuity: In the first season, Will's dad says that when Will came out to his parents, he walked into the living room and said, "Mom, Dad, I'm gay, and I want to bring my boyfriend home for Christmas." From the third season onwards the story is that when Will came out to his dad they were in a car and his dad drove into a telephone pole. Then, at Will's dad's funeral, Will's mother says that they've never met any of his boyfriends. Though that's not necessarily negative continuity: Will could have intended to bring that college boyfriend home but the boyfriend had other commitments or someting like that.
Early on, Will says he fancies cowboys. Grace says, "I know. I've seen the magazines." In season 8, Will says he doesn't find cowboys sexy. Mind you, he is in a gay cowboy bar trying to repel the advances of Jack's new boyfriend, so he could be just making that one up.
In spades. Will at one point says "Pansexual? Isn't that just a rest stop on the highway to homo?", echoing the familiar 'gay, straight or lying' line often heard in the gay community. In the first season, Will and Grace are both attracted to a new tenant in their apartment building, who seems to be potentially interested in them both. They argue over whether he's straight or gay; the possibility of his being bi is never raised. In the second season, the produce guy gives Grace his number, and everyone assumes that this means he never sleeps with guys.
The episode with the pansexual quote is one of the few aversions, since in it Karen's new chef (played by Stuart Townsend) has trysts with both her and Will, as well as a few other men and women.
Grace very briefly alludes to have another bisexual friend, but she's just trying to one-up Will in the Twofer Token Minority department.
And Karen, of course, certainly seems to be bisexual, as she has referred to relationships with both men and women many times, but it's never called by name (see Bi the Way)
It is called by name once: season 5 episode 21.
The (female) photographer Will and Grace go to in season four seems to be bisexual, and even Grace mentions having dated "that one masculine-looking girl." Diane and the roommate Karen gets at one point both seem to be willing to make out with Karen, though nothing actually happens. So yeah, it might be more accurate to say "No Male Bisexuals". Truth in Television up to a point, since more women than men identify as bisexual, but still.
This is right on the money. Female bisexuality is heavily implied with Karen and even Grace at times. The episode that had the two lesbian real estate developers head-to-head with Will and Grace one of the lesbians gets the hots for Will and they try and exploit that to their advantage in the real estate negotiations. So the writers clearly acknowledge female sexuality as being very fluid. Men however, MUST be either straight, gay, or on-the-road to eventually being gay.
In episode 2 of season 6, when Jack finds out that Leo's ex-girlfriend Diane is also the only woman Will has ever slept with, he says, "So in a way, you and Will have slept together. So technically, you're bi." and calls him "Swings-Both-Ways Leo".
There are a couple of 'I'd go gay/straight for' moments: Will saying that if he had to sleep with a woman it'd be Hilary Swank, Grace saying that even she is attracted to a particular very attractive woman.
And then there was the Thanksgiving episode where Will said that everybody, whether they were man, woman, gay, straight, has the hots for Angelina Jolie.
Platonic Life Partners: It used to be the Trope Namer for this, when the trope was confusingly named The Straight Will And Grace. The actual relationship of Will and Grace doesn't qualify. It's close, but Grace eventually getting married and having kids disqualifies them, despite being in the title. Hence the rename.
Pretty in Mink: Karen wears lots of furs. Many are fake, but not mentioned to be in the show, so that was likely for budget reasons. It would count as Fur and Loathing, except Grace wears a couple as well.
Roommate: The show revolves around the pair, Grace and Will. Both have girl/guy of the week dates, as well as a few more long-term relationships. Wacky building mate Jack falls more into the All Gays Are Promiscuous camp, although he has a stable boyfriend for a while. Grace's secretary Karen is also a Drop-In Character and goes through the dating pool a few times despite the fact that she's married to a very rich man at the start of the series.
Ship Tease: Several episodes seemed to be setting up Will/Jack, particularly in the early-to-mid series, and Word of God has it that there were some romantic feelings there, particularly from Jack. Nothing ever really happens, though.
Springtime for Hitler: Will & Jack volunteered to do skit for an NYPD sensitivity training seminar along with two lesbians. Jack's dislike for them ruins it and he & Will get in to a fight. It was a success because the cops thought it was all part of the show. It even convinced one of them to come out.
Straight Gay: The producers think Will is. Again, though, see Fair for Its Day. Will was a mostly-sitcom-normal guy who had the occasional camp element pop up for laughs - during a time when the world heard ‘gay’ and thought of someone like Jack. Fast forward a decade, though, and he's a Camp Gay whose buddy just happens to be doubly so. However, Will's boyfriend Vince is more successful at pulling off Straight Gay.
Played somewhat more literally with Matt Damon's character in "A Chorus Lie"—he pretends to be gay in order to get into the Gay Men's Chorus, but Jack "ins" him.
Which may indicate that only Will himself is supposed to see him as such whereas he's obviously gay to everyone else, except for Grace at first.
At the beginning of the series, Will was pretty much a 'regular guy' except that he hated sports. We heard about how as a kid he wanted a fire engine, was envious that his brother got the better bike, and wanted a cowboy cake (though that was at least partly because he was attracted to cowboys). Then we started hearing more and more about his 'effeminate' childhood tastes and current habits.
Matt, one of Will's boyfriends, fits this trope: he's an athletic sportscaster. He also goes back in the closet because he's on TV now.
Barry. He watches football and Will gets exasperated at him for not recognising divas and for using a baseball metaphor.
Stunt Casting: Done an awful lot within a couple years — it seemed like pretty much every high-profile gay-friendly celebrity in Hollywood was doing one-shots on the show. Madonna, Cher, Jennifer Lopez, etc.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Will's love interest James took this level so fast that it may have caused the viewers whiplash. At first he was introduced as a sweet guy that Will was so smitten over that Grace actually marries him so he could get his green card to stay in the country. Not one episode later, James lies about his mother dying to cut in line at the coffee shop, jokes about stealing a disabled nurse's cab, and says he broke up with his last boyfriend after said boyfriend got into a terrible skiing accident, not wanting to 'deal with it'. Not surprisingly, Will has Grace annul the wedding and James is never seen again.
Arguably Will. In the first and even the second seasons, he was a fairly Straight Gay except for his utter lack of interest in sports. As the series continued he mentioned more and more 'girly' things he had done as a kid: needlepointing, baking cookies, watching Little House on the Prairie with his mother, spending two hours getting his hair exactly right before the family trip to The Nutcracker, pretending to be Eartha Kitt, being obsessed with Doris Day, singing love songs at school talent shows, putting on little musical plays at home, wearing his mother's clothes and, when he was ten, having them tailored! Though he did date girls in adolescence, with all this it seems odd for his parents to have been shocked when he came out at nineteen.
Transsexual: A stripper hired for a bachelor party in one episode turns out to be this.
Vocal Evolution: Karen becomes more shrill and high-pitched as time goes on.
What Could Have Been: There were plans for a Jack And Karen spin-off, but after Friends spin-off Joey got cancelled, the creators wisely decided against the idea.
Jack does some Leaning on the Fourth Wall as he wonders aloud if maybe people somewhere are watching their lives unfold. Karen dismisses the idea because a Jack and Karen show would be "good for poops and giggles, but it would never last."
Although, Megan Mullally talked for a little while in 2009 about a Karen Walker musical on Broadway. She said it might feature Leslie Jordan as Karen's verbal sparring partner Beverly Leslie. However, she claimed it was being written and composed, but not much else has materialized.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Quite literally. Jack's pets Guapo ("handsome") the Macaw and Klaus Von Puppy (a Labrador) are shown throughout the first season but by season two they have vanished without a trace or explanation.