Based on recent press for Will & Grace Season 10 Episode 1, “The West Side Curmudgeon,” it’s clear that the showrunners want the theme of the season to be ch-ch-changes.
While Will & Grace Season 9 tried to showcase how the Fab Four had evolved over their eleven years off the airwaves, it mostly proved how much the characters had not changed, even while the world around them had. Therein lies one of the biggest and most urgent challenges I see facing this season of Will & Grace.
Season 9 allowed viewers to bask in spending time with their old friends Will and Grace. However, in order to stay relevant, the characters and the comedy have to evolve while still keeping the madcap physical humor and pop culture references that we love.
Will & Grace, simply put, I want more from you because I love you. (Yes, I’m being a Will, or a West Side Curmudgeon right now).
So does the premiere succeed in setting the show up for the season of change cast and crew have teased? Not quite, but “thon of a bitch,” it’s still funny.
The episode works best as a launch to Grace’s stories for the season. She’s running for President of the New York Society of Interior Designers, enjoying living in the “golden age of cupcakes,” and sparks are flying between her and grumpy Twitter personality, the West Side Curmudgeon aka Noah (David Schwimmer).
While it should not be surprising given Schwimmer’s previous residency as part of the Must See TV block, he fits well in the universe. Schwimmer and Debra Messing have incredible chemistry as they go back and forth arguing about the things they hate about New York and each other.
Based on their initial combative sparring, there are shades of Grace’s Season 4 relationship with Nathan (Woody Harrelson) present.
That relationship was interesting — and a significant point of growth for Grace — but I am hopeful the writers are able to pivot away from regurgitating that and instead craft a path wholly unique to Noah and Grace.
Jack’s storyline is a highlight, though not because it reveals newer shades to his character. Jack’s attempt to eat a banana while his face is frozen by a numbing cream is a level of physical comedy that no other actor currently on television could make work.
Sean Hayes is in a league of his own. The episode is worth watching solely for this master class in physicality and commitment.
Will (Eric McCormack) and Karen (Megan Mullally), are relegated to a thinly written and disappointing throwaway storyline about breast implants. Karen has evolved into the most nuanced, surprising, and hilarious character on the show so it feels like a big miscalculation that she was given so little to do in the season opener.
Why is the show not leading with its VIP? Hopefully, this is amended in next week’s episode. And every single one after that.
- I understand there’s not money in the budget for a Blythe Danner appearance every week, but it was odd that the pending marriage of Will and Grace’s parents was not even mentioned in the premiere given that it was such a key part of the spring finale.
- While the construct of Jack’s disastrous FaceTime with his fiancé’s parents was compelling, stroke humor feels a bit basic for this show.
- You can actually follow The West Side Curmudgeon on Twitter.
- Will’s line to Karen in the third act sums up the entire series: “You’re an awful human being and I’ll always be here for you.”
Overall, while it was a solid episode, it’s not what I would expect from a premiere to kickstart the season. There is room to improve, but if last season was any indication, the show should find its footing after a few more episodes.
What did you think of this episode of Will & Grace? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Will and Grace airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.
Want more from Tell-Tale TV? Subscribe to our newsletter here!