If the first episode of this revival was a Cheeto-flavored vomit of Donald Trump jokes and the second episode was a brilliant half-hour about aging in the gay community, what was this third episode? Was it fan service for those people who plopped in their Will & Grace season eight DVDs faithfully every night before bed to relive their favorite show?
Seriously, this episode is full of some deep cuts. The only person I know who would get all of the references and callbacks in this episode is my friend Nick, a W&G obsessive who quotes Karen Walker one-liners like some recite lines from The Big Lebowski. (He also has a Little Mermaid iPhone case, but that is another story.) Only Nick would know that Sheila was the nurse from Grace’s fertility clinic. Only Nick would remember why Grace was trying to have a baby with Will. Wait, was Grace trying to have a baby with Will? Even Sheila seems confused by this baby stuff. How do they expect the audience to remember?
To their credit, the writers do a good job filling in the blanks for those who didn’t see later seasons or remember those episodes. When Harry Connick Jr. — star of daytime’s Harry, airing weekdays on … oh, who cares? — shows up as Grace’s ex Leo, we get a little color as to what went wrong with their relationship. It seems like he cheated and they broke up and something with Doctors Without Borders. I could see enough of the sketch to figure out what was going on.
So yeah, Grace goes to the gynecologist and ends up getting a biopsy of her breast (the left one, the big one), which may or may not have cancer. Also, the biopsy required sedation. This string of events probably makes way more sense to humans who have been to a gynecologist than it does to me, but I’m just going to assume that is what these doctor’s visits are like. You know, just like women probably assume that getting a lubed rubber glove finger up their butts is the worst sensation a man could possibly feel. (It is not. That sensation is getting your scrotum caught in a zipper.)
In walks Leo, who is still Grace’s emergency contact because Karen is an awful assistant and never changed it back to Will after the divorce. He drops her off at home, where Grace complains to Will that she might have cancer and Leo howls that the reason they broke up is because Will and Grace are too close and he never let her in.
This upsets Grace so much that she eats strawberry ice cream using chicken satay as a spoon, the culinary equivalent of getting one’s scrotum caught in a zipper. Will, who is all misty-eyed from a Princess Diana retrospective at the Met, uses a cockamamie Diana, Charles, and Camilla Parker-Bowles analogy to convince Grace to talk to Leo and let him know that it wasn’t their relationship that doomed Grace’s marriage.
(Here is a long aside about Camilla Parker-Bowles: Everyone thinks that Charles and Diana had this storybook marriage and that theirs is the enduring love story. It is not. The real love story is between Charles and Camilla, who have been destined for each other since they were teens. If life was a movie, they would be the ones that always should have ended up together and Diana is the self-centered pretty girl who showed up and ruined their perfect love by inserting herself where she didn’t belong. When we look back on this story, Diana is going to be the villain, not the hero. Just think about that.)
My real confusion sunk in when Grace went to Leo’s office to talk about his cheating and how it ruined their marriage. “But that was just the first marriage,” Leo says. “What about the second one?” Wait, they got married twice? Or did they? I don’t know. I don’t care to know. My point is that it was cute for Leo to come back and for Grace and the audience to get closure, but why bring up all these old details? Did Nick win some sort of charity raffle or something, because he is the only person who cares?
The same thing happened when Jack ends up at a Boys & Girls Club in the Bronx. He tells Alvin, the supervisor or whatever, that he stopped being a teacher to be an actor again. Wait, Jack was a teacher? I didn’t know that. I also care about as much as Jack cares for churros, which is to say not at all.
Alvin does get in one good joke, though, when he says that people come to their center for the free WiFi but stay for the Obamacare — for now. That’s the kind of insightful and stinging political humor that sneaks in through the back door and really makes a dent. I would like to see more of that sprinkled in each episode, instead of having a bunch of toothless Trump jokes syphoned into an episode about the president himself.
The Jack and Karen business in the Bronx is kind of lame. It isn’t nearly slapsticky enough for their usual shenanigans and their jokes don’t have the same zing that we know and love. Also, Karen shows up unannounced in the Bronx and no one thinks to make even one joke about Karen being in the Bronx. As far as Karen is concerned, the Bronx is as close to her house as Madagascar, and probably as exotic too. Actually, the Bronx is probably more so because Karen might actually want to travel to Madagascar one day.
Anyway, Jack teaches some kid how to sing and Karen helps a little girl who is having her first period and we all learn that neither of them are the heartless monsters we really want them to be. Yeah, yeah. Whatever. The whole thing reeks of story fatigue, and we’re only at the revival’s third episode. What are they going to do next week, have them visit Beverly Leslie’s Wig Shop and Home for Wayward Girls? I know that Nick is dying for that to happen.