'Will & Grace' Was Not Made for Trump Supporters, and That's Okay
Only one episode down, and the show's new mission is already crystal clear.
Will & Grace made a much-anticipated return to the small screen on Thursday, Sept. 28, and true to form, no punches were pulled. The popular '00s comedy did not take a gentle approach, unlike many revivals that have tip-toed amongst the remnants of what they once were, concerned that going too far too fast would lead to immediate cancellation or long-term ratings decline. Will & Grace has never been a fragile flower of a sitcom, opting instead to throw jabs with reckless abandon and wait for viewers to total the body count. As Zimbio wrote here, the show's new favorite punching bag is Donald Trump. Targeting our nation's very spoofable president is nothing new, but the premiere did it with a furor few had anticipated, and so, it is probably not for Trump supporters.
The decision to alienate such a large portion of its past and present fanbase right off the bat was, as we put it here, ballsy. It was also a statement: if you support what's going on in the United States right now, this show may not be for you. It's impressive how many jabs the new season's maiden episode stuffed into 30 minutes: Its most "deplorable" character, Karen, is a diehard Trump supporter unconcerned with current events because "the rich won't be affected"; Cheetos are used to coordinate White House decor; a single satirical scene decimates couch enthusiast Kellyanne Conway; First Lady Melania Trump is referred to as "a hostage"; a "Make America Gay Again" hat gets at least 10 seconds of air time. W&G has flipped the switch from attracting like minds with inclusivity and wit to warding off hardcore conservatives entirely, and at a time like this, that's okay.
This contentious direction may be a difficult pill to swallow for some, but series co-creator David Kohan has been open about his inspiration for the new season. As a matter of fact, during the Tribeca TV Festival, Kohan said he'd prefer being called a "son of a bitch" by Trump himself than "being the son of someone who was arrested at a KKK rally," as Trump's father reportedly was in the 1920s. The show's core cast is also comprised of outspoken progressives Eric McCormack, Megan Mullally, Sean Hayes, and Debra Messing, whose Twitter feed is less a promotional tool for her work than it is a testament to political activism.
It's to be determined if this pointed comeback will be a hit or a miss. The premiere's solid ratings can, in large part, be attributed to nostalgia, and historically, programs as divisive as the new W&G have faltered. But it's also notable that shows like American Horror Story: Cult, which thrive on such divisiveness, have seen major success in the last year. Half-way through, the FX anthology's seventh season remains the number one most-watched original cable show among adults 18-49. SNL, who introduced Alec Baldwin's Emmy-winning Donald Trump almost a year ago to the day, is seeing its highest ratings in 22 years.
These numbers may indicate a new trend: In Trump's America, political satire — the idea that this is all a big joke we can laugh about — may be the breath of fresh air that we desperately need.
Will & Grace airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.