As sitcoms go, this is up there among the silliest. But when you need a quick twenty minutes of raucous, camp ridiculousness, there’s no company better than Will & Grace.
They are the best of friends – Will Truman is a gay WASP lawyer, Grace Adler a straight Jewish interior designer. And if it weren’t for their contrasting sexualities, they’d probably make the perfect couple – they’re both equally uptight and unpredictable, and they both want nothing more than to settle down with a loving partner, and have kids. However, they’re not romantically together, so instead they’ve adopted a sibling-like relationship, where they share a Manhattan apartment and spend their days bitching at each other and whinging as they continually look in the completely wrong places for love.
Sounds fairly annoying, doesn’t it? But there’s a hero here to save this show, in fact, there are two: Karen and Jack. Jack is Will’s high school friend, who helped him come out. He’s also camp as Christmas, and spends his days flamboyantly prancing about New York in search of his next acting gig. Karen is Grace’s high-pitched, lustful alcoholic socialite of a receptionist, who married rich and just works for fun. Naturally, the two come together and form one of the most entertaining duos in telly history.
To be honest, the title is misleading – this isn’t the Will and Grace show, but the Karen and Jack show. The pair and their ridiculous misadventures carry the series. And it’s the chemistry between the actors, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes, is what makes the pair so fun to watch – you can tell they had as much of a hoot off camera as they did on.
This never reached the same status as some of the more prominent late-nineties sitcoms, with the huge success of Friends soaking up all the limelight, but if you’re sick of Central Perk and it’s picture-perfect clientele, journey out of the West Village and into the lives of Will & Grace.
Lucy Mangan in The Guardian says the show has “something beautiful and brilliant,” in Jack and Karen, saying: “unburdened by the need to supply exposition or emotional truth, they were soon tap-dancing (sometimes literally) through every episode, their timing as instinctive and immaculate as Fred and Ginger’s.” And The Telegraph’s Jonathan Bernstein couldn’t agree more, saying: “Its star quartet – Eric McCormack and Debra Messing as the titular BFFs, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally as the scene-stealing second bananas who swiftly ascended to equal billing – possessed such impeccable Swiss-watch timing that they were able to elevate even the hokiest material.”
First shown September 1998.