Sunday, November 14, 2010

Will and Grace; Season 2 Ep. 14 "Acting Out"

Last week's discussion brought up how having a gay couple kiss on network television is still difficult to do.  This immediately reminded me of an episode that was purely committed to address this issue.  Jack was ecstatic about seeing the first gay kiss on primetime television only to be disappointed when the camera veered off onto a fireplace right as the kiss was about to take place.  This outraged Jack.  Will & Grace, who were also there and excited to see this on tv, were not as outraged and took it as "So what? What did you expect?"  Jack perplexes that that is not the point, "the point is that by cutting it, they [the network] are sending a clear message that my way of life is offensive." The storyline continues with Jack protesting to NBC to only get brushed off.  Jack then goes on Good Morning America, to his surprise, be kissed by Will when Jack asks Al Roker, "I just want to know how long it will be til I see two men kiss on network tv." Will sees this as his opportunity to send a message to all viewers and to his friend, Jack, that he supports his political action.  
I found it interesting that Will, being a gay man as well, was not as outraged as Jack when the kiss was cut out.  I think by doing that the show is addressing a separate auidence of gay individuals who have "come to terms" with the fact that "the world does not what to see gay men kissing" (Will).  This is shedding light onto the fact that there are some people who feel so powerless and feel that activism and outrage will benefit no one that they hesitate/ignore to speak out.  After much convincing though, Jack gets Will to join his political agenda.  
I also find it interesting that the title of the episode is called "Acting Out".  It seems as they are addressing public displays of homosexual affection as a motion of "acting out".  Of course, this title is in a positive light to show an act of resistance against the opppressive majority; but somehow, I just found the choice of title to be interesting.  That the kiss on television is a way of falling out of line of the "norm" and "acceptable" and is "acting out".   
Check out the episode if you get the chance! I couldn't find it on youtube but it is a really good--and funny--episode. (:

-Sweety Ghuman


  1. Going to school in San Francisco, it was not so uncommon to see gay couples showing affection in terms of holding hands, hugging, and kissing. I've always enjoyed Will and Grace for the simple fact it shows that gay men are just like everyone else, showing the difficulties in finding "the one" and showing off strong friendships within and out of the gay community.

    One of my really close guy friends is gay and he's amazing. When I've asked him what he thinks about Will and Grace, he tells me that he enjoys it but also "knows how much they'll actually show." I agree with you because I know that some gay men have accepted that the media will only show a certain amount of gay men affection. I have also met some gay men who are as outraged as Jack was.. not understanding why gay couples' kissing were the scenes that were being cut.

    I wish that it was not even an issue to see a gay couple kiss simply because women and men kiss (and thensome!) on TV all the time. As I've gotten older, you hear more and more profanity NOT being censored on television and in music. All of this makes me wonder why affection is being censored when it is not profane?

    -Melanie Yabut

  2. The issue of showing gay couples kissing on broadcast television is an interesting one and one that has changed in the recent years. In many ways, it has become more acceptable to show gay relationships and affection on television. However, this is mostly on channels such as HBO and Showtime which tend to have more leeway, and it is almost exclusively limited to kissing and the occasional make-out. In the show Modern Family, a show on ABC and produced by Fox, one of the featured families is a married gay couple with a child. The show is now in its second season and the couple has yet to even kiss. And while kissing between the other couples on the show is minimal, the omission of the kiss between Cam and Mitchell perpetuates the stereotype that such a display has no place on primetime television, on a “family” oriented show. While researching for my paper, I found many scenes of affection between a gay couple on the HBO show True Blood.

    While Jesus and Lafayette are shown to kiss, when they sleep together, it is only insinuated by showing Jesus in a robe the next morning. And while this could be an effort to be subtle, compared to what is shown for other straight couples, this is very tame and veiled.

    The episode of the Office “Gay Witch Hunt” parodies this anxiety often seen yet rarely addressed on television surrounding a kiss between to men. And while this episode is rather uncomfortable to watch as it is about Michael, the boss, outing Oscar to the entire office, it manages to sneak in a kiss between two men (Michael kisses Oscar in a terribly misguided attempt to show him that he is accepting of Oscar being gay). And while this can hardly count as a real kiss, and it is not technically between two gay characters, it is on the major network NBC, and addresses the difficulties of bigotry in the workplace by having Michael act so outrageously.