Saturday, April 29, 2006

Dear Will, Grace, Jack & Karen,

Or should I say Eric, Debra, Sean and Megan? But maybe we aren't so close that I can use your Christian names yet, no? Besides, you're all so pigeonholed by your characters now that no one will ever refer to you by your real names. So, I hear tell that your show is approaching it's series finale. I must admit that I'm sort of surprised. Not that it's going to end, just that it's still on. Now look, you can get all mad at me for saying that but you kind of know it's true, don't you? I'll admit, I have not been keeping up in any continuous way for the last 4 or 5 seasons. I will admit I did try to watch you guys pretty regularly when you first got going. As cynical as I am about how queers are represented in the mainstream media, especially television, I was curious to see how it all panned out. And despite that aforementioned cynicism, I did have high hopes. Well, maybe not high hopes. More like cruising altitude hopes. But still, I had hopes nonetheless. I still remember watching the coming out episode of Ellen and being moved despite my wariness of this all happening on the idiot box. I know some folks have the whole "visibility of any kind is a good thing" mentality, but I have never subscribed wholeheartedly to that notion although I have read a few of the back issues.

But yeah, that episode of Ellen was pretty groundbreaking and I liked how it balanced humor and seriousness and how there was even a little bit of heartbreak for her over the Laura Dern character rejecting her - that felt really real. And who didn't laugh when she said "I'm gay" into the microphone so the whole airport heard her? But very soon after that it all became an endless string of A Very Special Gay Episode of Ellen and it really lost the plot. I kind of admired her for trying to have these serious issues in her show, but it got so hamfisted and awkward. But I digress.

So along came you four and your Brand New Gay Sitcom. Like I said, I was going to give it a spin. Now I don't think I started watching it right from the get go in Season 1. If I did, I know Will's mullet in the pilot episode would've been enough to send me screaming from the TV set for many years. I know plenty of gay men who make baaaad hair and fashion choices, but your hair in that episode just screamed out "I'm a straight actor playing gay for this pilot episode which may or may not get picked up, so I am not cutting this puppy until it does! I know I came in after Karen's voice reached it's awesome, helium-induced, nasally-ness but before Grace's hair went from those horrible tight curls to the slightly less horrible and less tight curls in what, Season 2? At any rate, I watched. And I laughed. And I generally enjoyed. I say "generally" because as far as a mainstream sitcom goes with a premiere episode that rips off a huge plot point from the first episode of another mainstream sitcom on the same network *cough*Friends*cough*, it wasn't half bad. I liked hearing jokes that maybe I got more cuz I'm a fag and all and there were definitely some entertaining moments. The other reason I say "generally" is because when it comes to being a show that represents An Important Step For Gay People I am not so pleased with it. At this point, I think I'd like to address you all separately, because it's the easiest way to express this.

Will. First off, I am not going to congratulate you for being a straight actor who played gay. As an actor, that's part of your job. I'm not saying you're asking for that, but I just wanted to get that out of the way first in case you were expecting praise. But as a straight actor who I know received tons of letters from gay people who were all "Oh, this show saved my life" or "Watching this show with my parents made it so I felt okay coming out to them" and so forth, did you ever think to try and push to have Will not be such a neurotic, sexless, loveless shell of a human being whose sole purpose in life was more than helping his hetero girlfriend get laid at any cost, including the aforementioned lovelessness and sexlessness of his own life? Did you? I know they used the whole "he's getting over his painful breakup with his long term boyfriend" to put off you being actively gay (unless you count talking about clothes, moisturizer and Broadway musicals), but come the fuck on. Who did you think you were helping? Who did you think you were making it better for? All of us who want to be doomed to a life devoid of pleasure and mired in such self-hate that we let our insane fag hag friends destroy any chances we ever have of getting laid or loved? I know you recently sucked face with Taye Diggs because I surfed past the episode and stopped to watch it like the trainwreck it was. I did admire it a bit and but it just reeked of too little, too late. Buffy The Vampire Slayer (R.I.P. best TV show ever) may have struggled with their original network to show love more vividly between Tara and Willow, but at least it was clear they had love and those spells-as-sex substitutes were pretty damn hot. You were just a huge let down my friend and I really hope I never have to see you play one of us again.

Which brings me to you, Grace. Yes, you. I'm sure you're used to all sorts of queens coming up to you being like "Girl, I have a friend just like you Miss Thang!" But believe you me this: all of them secretly hate her. And this is coming from someone who has more female friends than male and cherishes those relationships. But I cherish them because they are with women who are fully realized, fully functioning beings who are smart, talented, creative and inspiring. Not because they're freakishly co-dependent and attention whorish to a clinically unhealthy degree. Did you ever for once think that maybe, just maybe, this Groundbreaking Gay Sitcom focused just a weensy bit too much on you and your straight girl life? Or were you just so bitter after the horrendous failure that was Ned & Stacey that you figured it should be all about you now since you suffered the indignity of having to share so much screen time with Thomas Haden Church and his giant head? Well, you were wrong. I kept waiting for the episode where Will flipped out on you and sent you packing and it stuck. Or I kept waiting for the episode where you didn't ruin yet another potential date for him and actually allowed the man to relieve what must've been the biggest case of blue balls in the history of the world. Instead, we just had to watch you be 800 kinds of neurotic and hump every straight man that crossed your threshold while poor Will couldn't get so much as a taste of cock. I see a lifetime of Lifetime Television for Women in your future. Which would be a fitting fate for someone whose character was such an insult to intellgitent, heterosexual women, especially any with gay friends. Enjoy! Oh, and one last bit of faggy advice: redheads shouldn't wear that much gold. Ever.

So, Jack, you're next. You're a tough one. Part of me loves you because you're femmey when my gay brethren are so obsessed with (Fake) Butch Realness and because it was at least implied that you got laid. But then another part of me doesn't love you all that much because of the endless string of stereotypes that you were able to contain in your tiny, tiny frame. Cher lover? Check. Frustrated actor/dancer/singer? Check. Endless string of one night stands but never able to actually have a relationship? Chiggidy check! And then there's the whole part about how you "refuse to disclose your sexuality" in interviews which we all know is secret code for FAG. I mean, do you think we didn't know? Do you think we weren't tipped off when you showed up at the Oscars with Tom Cruise that one time? I will give that you're pretty damn funny but I don't know...I was just really disappointed in you. It's always hard when one of your own lets you down. And don't say "What do you mean, 'one of your own'" because you know full and well that you're a giant 'mo. I did like you in Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss though. You reminded me of a good friend of mine in that role. P.S. That friend is gay too.

And lastly, we came to you Karen. There are moments in my life where I feel so cliche in my gayness, like when I use the word "flourish" or when I wish I could sometimes shape change into a girl and wear cute skirts. Another of those times is when I love the fuck out of you. I know, I know, it's like Edina Monsoon once said "How typical, a bitch with a drug habit and your anybodies". But that is the thing: you remind me of her. And Patsy. You're the closest thing we ever got to an American version of Absolutely Fabulous and you were the queerest person on all of Will & Grace. And you know it too. We all know you publicly identified as bisexual and you're so pansexual on that show it's amazing. Karen made more queer references and smarter ones - hello, you made a Sarah Lawrence lesbian joke for fuck's sake! - than anyone on the show. You also never ceased to show your disdain for Will and Grace's messed up relationship and it's sexless marriage qualities. Sure, you're a bit guilty for participating in this sham of an Important Gay Television Show, but I pretty much forgive you for your sins because you're so subversive in your lust for women, fags and big guys. I can only hope the season finale ends with you drenched in the blood of your co-stars as you maniacally declare "IT'S THE KAREN SHOW NOW!" then run off to boff that butch UPS dyke from a few seasons back.

Whew, this was one hell of a long letter. I guess I should wrap it up. I will say congratulations to some degree for bringing homo stuff to the small screen and quite possibly changing some closed minds. I will also say that I hope you learned something and that sometimes representation isn't simply enough. It needs to be good representation. Also, there should be sex. For the homos. And Karen.



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