Depict and discuss the rhetorical differences that exist between the ways “Will and Grace” and “The New Normal” depict their gay characters.
Throughout high school we read and discussed countless short stories and books about homosexuals in various communities, but we were never asked how our beliefs were influenced by these tales. The New Normal and Will and Grace force us to reflect upon our beliefs and analyze the characters’ affect on our lives. Undoubtedly, both these shows do a fantastic job representing gay issues which fosters acceptance among its viewers; it is within the differences in the depiction of each show’s characters, however, that highlight the alternate intentions of each show.
Both Will and Grace and The New Normal have “token” gay characters that solidify public stereotypes of male homosexuals. Whether it be Jack or Bryan, these characters are flamboyant, fashion-obsessed, and prideful. The producers created these characters in hopes that the audience can relate. Even if one has never met someone who acts like Jack or Bryan, they are familiar with them through media stereotypes. Along with their ability to relate to audiences, Jack and Bryan’s inherent sassiness contribute to their lovable personalities.
It is within the depiction of each show’s main characters, however, that differences in the shows’ message lie. Will from Will and Grace is neat, witty, and nurturing. He is constantly caring for Grace and always supportive in her (many) troubling situations. If the producers didn’t show Will going out on dates with men, an outsider might think that Will and Grace are the ones actually in the romantic relationship. The producers depicted Will this way because the main focus of the show, while partly aimed to adopt acceptance of homosexuals, is mainly to emphasize the importance of a male, female friendship. By dancing around the issue of gay culture, Will and Grace is able to capture a wider audience that initially may not be as accepting of homosexuals. While Will may not fit the stereotypes of how homosexual males are portrayed in the media, he provides a solid lead character that allows all viewers, regardless of their perspectives, to fall in love with.
If Will and Grace is nibbling on gay issues, The New Normal is shoveling them down their spectators’ throats. The audience is constantly being barraged by homosexual slurs and issues the characters face that makes us, the audience, question our beliefs. The differences in the way The New Normal and Will and Grace represent their lead characters reflect the alternate intents of their respective shows. David, the main character on The New Normal, is gentle and supportive like Will, but unlike Will, his sensitivity borders on neuroticism. David is deeply concerned with how people treat him and worried what the world will be like for his future child. When a man at the gym calls a mentally handicapped person a retard, David gets very frustrated and punches the man in the face. He is on a mission to rid his community of intolerance. Will on the other hand seems not to encounter any hate remarks. Therein lies the fundamental difference in objectives of these two shows. Will and Grace is intended to highlight the comedic and endearing relationship between Will and Grace with a homosexual subplot. The New Normal, however, is aimed to strike down unjust intolerance and promote approval of all different types of families, not just homosexual ones. While these shows have alternate messages, they portray the messages beautifully through their depiction of their respective main characters.