How 'Will & Grace' Helped The LGBTQ Community Across Several Generations
I noticed that the official YouTube account for Will & Grace shared a 90-second video that celebrates Pride Month in a beautiful way. The vid shows some of their most iconic LGBTQ moments, from when it began 20 years ago up until now due to its wonderful reboot.
It's a fascinating video to look at, as it details just a glimmer of the impact that this show has made on the LGBTQ community, our supporters, and even people who at one point were homophobic but changed their views after watching the daily, or "gaily"lives of Will (Eric McCormack), Grace (Debra Messing), Jack (Sean Hayes), and Karen (Megan Mullally).
As someone who is an "early millennial" of sorts (born in the mid-80's), I come from a generation of people who were starting to warm up to the idea of LGBTQ acceptance. The 1980's was more political, with the desire to wake everyone up in terms of what was going on with the AIDS crisis and our needs to not be looked at some deviants, whereas the 90's started to develop a conversation about our community and how we can really integrate ourselves into the mainstream world.
Two shows were able to help that cause. Ellen was one... and Will & Grace was the other. Ellen (DeGeneres) broke the doors down in a huge way when she came out as gay on her primetime series, which drew millions of viewers who ultimately became divided on why she did what she did. Unfortunately, it didn't work out for her at that point, and the show was canceled a year after that particular episode aired. Obviously, she rebounded, but it took a little while for her to get there and for another show to come along to finish what she started.
Cue Will & Grace. A show about a gay man and a straight woman living together in New York City. Will has the funny sidekick friend in Jack, and Grace has her assistant Karen who really isn't much of an assistant at all. The show's first eight episodes aired Monday's on NBC, before moving to Tuesday's and then finally their Thursday night lineup, which was known as "Must See TV" at that point. They joined in with some other legendary shows at the time, including Frasier and Friends.
Clearly the show had struck a chord, but I do wonder if that would have happened had Ellen not done what she did a year earlier. Regardless, the formula between these four actors really worked, as the show averaged between 12 to 17 million viewers per week through its first six seasons and won a ton of awards in the process.
The emotional moments on the show were just as incredible as the comedic ones, which showcased the difficulties our community faced in the world at that point. It was the first time that we saw something like this on a continuing series and not just on a "very special episode" type of deal that our community had to deal with up for several years prior.
These were characters that were relatable and likable, but at the same time, they were creating a conversation. They were bringing together all types of people in real life who almost developed a "gay" sort of education while watching the program. For me, I had no idea about anything in the gay community prior to watching Will & Grace given my age when it was on. Watching the show helped me tremendously with my sexuality to the point where it inspired me to want to come out to my parents at a very young age.
I can't be the only one to think that. And it's left an impression on not only my generation, but several others as well. Younger, older, and everything in between, we have to really thank this show for existing as we never had anything like it before. If we didn't have Will & Grace, chances are we wouldn't have the following (hypothetically):
- Queer as Folk
- The L Word
- RuPaul's Drag Race
- Queer Eye
- Miss Vanjie (hehe)
- Modern Family
And so on and so forth. They helped shape a movement that is stronger than ever... and all they had to do was show up, get the show made, edit it accordingly, and broadcast it to millions of people like me who needed it for their own reasons. Thank you, Will & Grace, for what you've done for our community and what you will continue to do for generations in the future.
This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.