As I was watching the Will & Grace episodes this week, while also reading the assigned chapter concerning its heteronormative settings, I really began to think again about this show’s intentions. I remember often seeing this sitcom on tv as I was growing up, because my older sister and parents often watched it. At the time, I obviously could not understand most of its sexual or inappropriate references, as they went right over my head. But I also began to consider why I never knew or realized the show was about displaying homosexuality in a new and unseen way. I know now that Will and Jack are gay men, but when I was younger, I can definitely say I had no idea this was the case. All I can really remember is thinking the show was primarily about the four characters friendships with one another. And because of this, I often considered it a sitcom very similar to Friends, as that was another show my sister and parents watched often.
I think it is not only interesting, but also alarming, that even as a kid I never knew what the show was truly about. That just reveals more about its heteronormative strategies that are discussed in the Sitcom Reader, because although its stated intention was to reveal homosexual lifestyles and relationships, this is something that must be searched for when watching the show. On the surface, it just appears as another sitcom about heteronormative relationships as well as friendships. Although I do think the show had beneficial intentions because it wanted to start discourse on an important subject, it needed to advertise these intentions much more than it actually did. If all viewers knew upfront that the show distinctly wanted to deal with this subject, then maybe young viewers like me could have learned and benefited more from it.
This problem with Will & Grace remains a good lesson for sitcoms today. If they have intentions of addressing a touchy societal subject, then they should advertise this and attempt to go all the way in each episode. When this is not achieved, then the important and necessary lessons fall flat.
By: Lacey Worsham