Tag Archives: Debra Messing

Will & Grace and The #MeToo Movement

Men using their power to use women for sex has existed for a millennia, if not longer.

Last week’s episode of Will & Grace addressed the #Metoo movement as only Will & Grace can.

In the episode, Grace (Debra Messing), is spending the day with her father, Martin (Robert Klein). While stopping at a restaurant, Grace reveals that she was sexually assaulted by a friend of her father’s whom she worked for in high school.

I loved this episode. Kudos to the writing team, Debra Messing and Robert Klein for addressing the issue of sexual assault in a way that hits home. The man who assaulted Grace is not a powerful politician or a movie mogul. He is simply an older man who thought that he had the right to sexually assault a teenage girl.

In the pantheon of Will & Grace episodes, this one is for the books. The writers could have hit the viewer over the head. But instead, they told the story of a young girl’s assault and how after it still affected her years after it happened.

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Will & Grace Character Review: Leo Markus

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Will & Grace. Read at your own risk if you have not watched either the previous series or the new series. For the purpose of this post, I am only referring the narratives in the original series, not the reboot.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Will & Grace to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

It’s not easy dating, especially when you live in a city that millions call home. But then fate rears its head and that special someone enters your life. In Will & Grace, that special someone for Grace (Debra Messing) is Leo Markus (Harry Connick Jr.). After years of so-so dates and boyfriends that were not the greatest, Leo is the perfect guy for Grace.

Leo is a Jewish Doctor (aka every Jewish mother’s ideal mate for their child). He is handsome, funny, charming and is willing to put up with Grace’s craziness. But Leo, like anyone of us, imperfect. He cheated on Grace with a colleague, effectively ending their marriage. After a brief time apart (and a short visit to the mile high club), Leo and Grace got back together and found their own happily ever after.

To sum it up: A good romance contains barriers to the potential couple’s happily ever after. Whether that is a physical barrier or an emotional barrier, something has to keep them apart. Though Leo is the romantic lead, he has a humanity to him, which not only makes him endearing to Grace, but to the audience.

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Will & Grace Character Review: Karen Walker

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Will & Grace. Read at your own risk if you have not watched either the previous series or the new series.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Will & Grace to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

For every main character, there is a supporting character. Sometimes, this character is the zany and not all there sometimes, but they are just as important to the narrative as the main character. In the world of Will & Grace, this character is Karen Walker (Megan Mullally). Karen is Grace Adler’s (Debra Messing) “assistant”. Though truth be told, Grace uses Karen more for her contacts among New York City’s elite rather than her abilities in assisting Grace in the running of her business. Karen is more interested in shopping and her extensive collection of alcohol and pills rather than getting work done. Her often spoken of obese and mega-wealthy husband, Stan is heard, but never fully seen.

Karen takes great pleasure in mocking Grace for whatever she sees as an easy target. She also has a very interesting relationship with Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) that is often symbiotic and mocks Will (Eric McCormack) as much as she mocks Grace. But underneath all that, Karen is there for her friends, through thick and thin.

To sum it up: While the supporting character is not given as much of the spotlight as the main character, it is important for the writer to give him or her their due. Karen works as a supporting character because not only is she the yin to Grace’s yang, but she also has enough of a back story to be a fully fleshed out character. Without that due and that fleshing out by the writers, Karen Walker would be just another flat supporting character that is neither seen or appreciated by the audience or reader.

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Will & Grace Character Review: Jack McFarland

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Will & Grace. Read at your own risk if you have not watched either the previous series or the new series.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Will & Grace to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In any comedy duo there are two important archetypes: the straight man and the comic. On Will and Grace,  Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) is the comic to Will Truman’s (Eric McCormack) straight man. If Will is trying to disprove the stereotype of the gay man, Jack is the iconic gay man. He is a drama queen, chases men like a dog chases a toy, loves show tunes and rarely has a serious relationship. While Jack tries to be a performer, his career in show business never quite gets to the level that he wishes it to be. As a result, he has had a series of jobs and is constantly relying on Will, Grace (Debra Messing ) and Karen (Megan Mullally) for financial assistance.

But even with all of that, Jack supports his friends and appreciates them. He is also the kind of character that helps to foster important conversations around the treatment and image of those in the LGBTQ community. Jack maybe based on a stereotype, but the character goes way beyond the stereotype.

To sum it up: Sometimes a character or a narrative, especially one based on a stereotype is not a bad thing. Especially when the character or the narrative can foster a conversation and create change that is long overdue. Jack resonates with audiences not just because he is a funny character, but because he has human qualities that many of us relate to. As writers, when we want to enact change to create a better world, we don’t get on our soapbox. We create characters and narrative that speak to and resonate with audiences or readers. That is the way to create effective change for the better.

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Will & Grace Character Review: Grace Adler

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Will & Grace. Read at your own risk if you have not watched either the previous series or the new series.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Will & Grace to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

For many, Grace Adler (Debra Messing) is the iconic New York City single woman. She is an interior designer, lives with her gay best friend, Will Truman (Eric McCormack) is single, a little neurotic and also a little crazy. Grace’s story line begins in the pilot when she has broken up with her fiance. Will too, is newly single and they decide to live together.

Grace was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City. The second of three girls, she has the tendency to be dramatic, selfish and tries to get stuff for free if she can. The owner of her own design firm, Grace “employs” socialite Karen Walker (Megan Mullally) as her assistant. Using Karen for her contacts rather than for her administrative skills, Grace is often the butt of Karen’s jokes. But over the years, they have become friends and rely on each other outside of the office.

But while Grace takes all of these jokes in stride, she just has a big heart and treats her friends like family.

To sum it up:  When creating a character, the important word to remember is balance. No character or human being for that matter, is entirely good or entirely bad. We all have a mix of good qualities and bad qualities. As writers, our job is to ensure that the character you are creating has an equal mixture of good and bad. For example, Grace lets Will take care of her when necessary, but also mooches off of him from time to time. Without that balance, Grace would be a flat character, devoid of human complexities that can and will drive audiences away.

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Will & Grace Character Review: Will Truman

The new list of characters is…..the characters from Will & Grace.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Will & Grace. Read at your own risk if you have not watched either the previous series or the new series.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Will & Grace to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Will Truman (Eric McCormack) is a lawyer living in New York City. He is gay and shares an apartment with his best friend, Grace Adler (Debra Messing) who is straight and an interior designer by trade. Will was born into a WASP-y and wealthy New England family. He came out after he and Grace dated briefly in college. In the pilot, Will is newly single after his long-term relationship had then recently ended.

Upon first glance, one might not think that Will Truman is gay. He is not the effeminate stereotype, but he has his moments. He can be very critical, nit picky and a little too staid in his choices.  But when push comes to shove, Will is there for his friends. Known as the most mature and steady one in his immediate social circle, Will often the straight man compared to the other characters.

To sum it up: When creating a character based on a stereotype to break the stereotype, the key is to use a little bit of the stereotype while building up the whole human being that is the character. Will Truman works as a character because while he is still a gay man, he is not only defined by the gay stereotype. As writers, it is our job to humanize characters like Will Truman to ensure that feel like complete human beings, not stereotypes.

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Will And Grace Reboot Review

Last night, Will And Grace returned to our television sets after an 11 year absence.

Will Truman (Eric McCormack) is still a gay lawyer. Grace Adler (Debra Messing) is still his neurotic, straight interior designer best friend/roommate. Karen Walker (Megan Mullally) is as rich and boozed up as she ever was. Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) is still the Jerry Lewis to Will’s Dean Martin. It’s as if the 2006 series finale never happened.

I have been a fan of Will And Grace for a very long time. Needless to say, the hype and the pressure to re-create the success of the original series was palpable. The cast, creative team and the crew succeeded with flying colors. Last night’s episode was pure Will and Grace, it was everything I hoped it would be and much more.

I absolutely recommend it. Welcome back Will And Grace, you’ve been sorely missed.

Will and Grace is on NBC at 9PM on Thursdays.

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Flashback Friday-The Starter Wife (2007)

When life gives us lemons, we try to make lemonade. When we are single after years of being in a relationship, what looks like a dark path of unknowns may actually be an opportunity to grow in new and exciting ways.

After 8 years of playing Grace Adler on Will and Grace, Debra Messing completely stepped away the world of Will and Grace to play a new character: the eponymous title character in the 2007 miniseries, The Starter Wife. Molly Kagan (Messing) has been married to Hollywood mogul Kenny Kagan (Peter Jacobson) for a number of years. All is well in her world until Kenny divorces her. Molly has to face her new reality as a single woman with the help of her friends, Joan McAllister (Judy Davis), Cricket Stewart (Miranda Otto) and Rodney (Chris Diamantopoulos).

I remember enjoying this mini-series. It had humor, it had heart and it also spoke to the idea that new normals happen all the time. It’s just a matter of rolling with the punches and putting one foot in front of the other.

I recommend it.

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Dirty Dancing TV Movie Review

*Warning-This review contains minor spoilers. Read at your own risk if you have not seen it.

Dirty Dancing is one of those movies. It became an instant classic when it hit theaters in 1987. Everything about that movie is iconic. The music, the story, the characters, etc, are instantly recognizable.

It’s therefore no wonder that ABC rebooted the movie last night into a television movie musical with Abigail Breslin and Colt Prattes stepping into the very large shoes of Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze.

It’s still the summer of 1963. Frances “Baby” Houseman is on vacation with her doctor father, Jake (Bruce Greenwood), homemaker mother, Marjorie (Debra Messing) and elder sister Lisa (Sarah Hyland) at a resort in the Catskills. About to go to college and enter the real world, Baby is full of hopes and dreams, but also sheltered from the world by her parents.

She becomes infatuated with Johnny Castle, one of the resort’s dance teachers and steps up to become his dance partner when his regular dance partner, Penny (Nicole Scherzinger) gets pregnant and goes to a less than reputable doctor to have an abortion. While their relationship starts off as merely dance partners, they soon become more than dance partners, but their differences may tear them apart.

I very much appreciated that certain narratives and characters were expanded from the original movie. In the original movie, Lisa is a stereotype and Mrs. Houseman is a background player. In this version, Lisa is a deeper character (i.e. she is convinced by Baby to read The Feminine Mystique and see her herself as more than a girl who just wants to get married). Like many women of her generation, Mrs. Houseman was told that they should get married and have families. While they have done this, there is an aching need for something more. I also appreciated that Abigail Breslin is not a size 2.

For the most part, the creative team stuck to the story and characters that the audience anticipated. But there was something missing, something that the movie has that the television version does not.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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RIP Debbie Reynolds

I’m starting to think that death is playing a sick joke on us. I’ve stopped counting the number of celebrities we’ve lost this year.

Two days ago, we lost George Michael. Yesterday, actress and writer Carrie Fisher died from a heart attack. A short time ago, it was announced that Carrie’s mother, Debbie Reynolds died from a stroke.

A friend of mine joked on Facebook that George RR Martin must be the man behind the throne this year.

Debbie Reynolds was one of the last living icons of the studio system. Her breakthrough role was in Singin’ In The Rain (1952), opposite Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor. Though Ms. Reynolds played the wide-eyed innocent in the 1950’s, her real life was far from her on-screen persona. She was married three times, her first husband, the late crooner Eddie Fisher was the father of her children, Carrie (of Star Wars fame) and Todd. Eddie infamously left his wife and children for Elizabeth Taylor after the death of Ms. Taylor’s third husband, Mike Todd. Enduring two more divorces and bankruptcy, Debbie Reynolds will stay in our collective consciousness as one of the legends of old Hollywood.

I have to admit that while I admired Ms. Reynolds for her decades long career, my favorite role of hers will be Bobbi Adler, Grace Adler’s(Debra Messing) mother on Will and Grace.

RIP Debbie, you and Carrie are back together.

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