Will & Grace’s First Audience Didn’t Realize It Was About A Gay Man

imagesI remember that the opening scene of the pilot where Will and I are on the phone talking about George Clooney on ER and how we both found him handsome. The way it was written was so subtle that they did testing afterwards and half the audience didn’t realize at the end of the pilot that Will was gay. And that was considered a good thing for the show. They wanted the show to have legs and they knew they would have to capture the audience’s heart through the laughter first.”

Debra Messing discussing response to the pilot of her groundbreaking sitcom Will & Grace with Huffington Post Live

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  • boring

    They also weren’t aware it was supposedly a comedy, too.

  • AJAnders

    I liked that concept about Will early in the series. Unfortunately, after a few seasons, show runners decided that it would be funnier if Will started acting more like Jack. So he started doing things like obsessively listening to Barbara Streisand, writing fan mail to Justin Timerblake and following celebrity teen feuds that were in the news at the time like Lindsey Lohan vs. Hillary Duff. There was even an episode where he tried to manipulate a friend into selling his bookstore so it couple be turned into a gym. Will would have never done those things in the first few seasons.

    Falling back on stereotypes isn’t funny. It’s lazy writing.

  • BrettJ

    Well…the haters are going to hate…but I love Will & Grace. Is it filled with stereotypes? Sure, but what sitcom isn’t. It’s a hilarious show with a LOT of heart. Plus, it introduced the world to Karen Walker…so what’s not to love?! While growing up in the closet in a conservative Mormon house watching this show was my only connection to the gay community for a long time. It was groundbreaking, funny, and inspiring…I love it.

  • lieven v

    It would be nice if people could be a little more positive. I have Always loved Will and Grace. There was for the most part, great chemistry in that show. Of course there are stereotypes. But introducing the world to Jack has made sure that a whole generation of sissy boys (including myself) were proud to be who we are and act it too. So for a mainstrem show to include a flamboyant gay man who was unapologetically himself, was to me one of the great accomplishments of W&G.

  • robirob

    Comedies get stale quite fast, because at one point they become repetetive.

  • robirob

    sorry: repetitive.

  • michael mellor

    Will and Grace’s writers must have been doing somersaults trying to disguise Will’s homosexuality. Writers in Hollywood are not gay-friendly.

  • Cam

    Hollywood in the last few decades is far more willing to be bigoted and blame the audience than it used to be.

    It’s why, to repeat, Brokeback Mountain outperformed Scream at the box office, and yet for the next decade you got multiple knock-offs, sequels and copies of Scream and not one single gay themed non-documentary from any major studio.

    Brokeback made a ton of money and got Oscar nominations, yet the studios STILL wouldn’t make a gay movie.

    Same with Will and Grace “It was good that the audience didn’t know he was gay”

  • Seth82

    that’s because they practically made the guy a eunuch.

    They made a show for middle american white women. Will never had a relationship that lasted. Straight relationships were always portrayed as lasting.

    I also disliked that they had Will being homophobic at times toward Jack with his quips. He once called Jack, The Notorious F.A.G.

  • Cam


    you nailed it, Will was a Eunich and Jack was an over the top walking stereotype, vapid, shallow, mean, and a whore to boot.

  • TinoTurner

    I thought I was the only homo that didn’t think that was funny. I TRIED to like it but its never been funny. Yes, its good that it was a popular show and the heteros liked it….but I never even snickered at that show. Also, there is something about Debra Messing thats repellant.

  • hotboyvb81

    since it was promo’ed as a gay guy/str8 girl show for months….kinda knew.

  • Bromancer7

    @Cam: Bingo! Hit the nail right on the head. And this is why I never liked the show. I watched the first season and part of the 2nd. I wanted to like it, but I ultimately just couldn’t. Will was a 2D cardboard cutout with the personality and sexuality of a doorstop and Jack was every negative homosexual stereotype in one giant flaming package. Will & Grace was a boring show, and when it became the Jack & Karen show the never-ending faggot/drunk shallow and vacuous antics bit got old really quickly.

  • Nuttypea

    @Seth82: “Straight Relationships were always portrayed as lasting”

    I thought Grace’s entire schtick was that she had terrible luck with keeping a boyfriend… Caren was only ever with her partners for their money, and the one straight couple they had game night with were implied to be constantly on the verge of divorce.

    As for Will’s gay selfhate, I was annoyed by it at first, but more than a few times the show saw fit to call him out, in later seasons he was catty at best.

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