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Acting Out is the 14th episode of the second season and 36th overall. The episode has been noted for featuring a kiss between two gay men Will and Jack, one of the firsts in network television history, albeit more of a political rather than romantic kiss.[1][2] It is also the first episode to feature scenes filmed in the actual streets of New York instead of the CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles.

Will and Jack try to protest NBC for cutting a gay kiss out of an episode of a TV series. Karen gives Grace advise on how to control her new boyfriend's sappy behavior.

Synopsis

Along Came You

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On the streets of NY.

Jack, Will and Grace tune in to watch a much awaited "first ever prime time network kiss between two gay men" in a TV series called Along Came You. However, the kiss was only implied and was not actually seen on-screen. This infuriates Jack who feels that it is sending a message that the way he lives his life is offensive. Will is considerably more forgiving until he realizes that the issue is important to Jack.

Will and Jack desperately try to get a meeting with the president of the TV network to no avail. While thinking of ways to protest on the way home, they see Al Roker on the street interviewing a crowd for the Today show. Jack tries to raise the issue to Al, Will realizes that the camera is focused on them so he quickly takes the opportunity and kisses Jack live on national television.

Bye-bye, Josh

Grace has been dating Josh, a gentle and sensitive guy but is become too clingy so she decides to break up with him. Grace asks for advise from Karen, whom she describes as an expert in being mean, and follows her advise to simply lie to Josh and tell him she is in love with Will. Her lie, however is revealed when they see Will kissing Jack on TV.

Cast

Main

Guest

Notes

  • This is the first episode that features outdoor scenes filmed in New York City. Some critics noted this has been done to add to the "realness" of the situation where two gay men actually kissed on a "real" television show in front of the "real life" figure Al Roker.[2]
    • Due to the absence of the studio audience, no laugh tracks are heard during scenes at the streets of New York.
  • The kiss between Eric McCormack and Sean Hayes was the second kiss between two men aired on prime time US television, after That '70s Show episode Eric's Buddy which aired in 1998, although only one of the characters is gay. Three months later Dawson's Creek aired what is generally regarded as the first gay male kiss on prime time in a romantic context during the episode True Love.
    • The kiss between Will and Jack was a tongue-in-cheek reference to a real-life event that happened on The Today show with Al Roker when two men actually kissed on live television in 1999.[3] Right after the kiss, Al commented, "see, they wouldn't do that on Will & Grace."
  • For his performance on the episode (and in Homo for the Holidays), Sean Hayes won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 2000.
  • Although his face is off-screen, Stan appears in the bathtub with Karen and his foot is briefly seen. Behind-the-scene photos reveal that he is played by crew member Ben Acker.
  • Episode is written by show creators David Johan and Max Mutchnick.
  • Jack's website www.justjack.com actually went live during the time of the episode. It redirected to the www.nbc.com.
  • Josh's first appearance. Crazy Sally would also reappear later in the season.

Cultural references

  • While waiting for the kissing scene, Will remarks "one giant step for man on mankind," a wordplay on Neil Armstrong's famous quote during the 1969 moon landing "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."
  • After Jack is outraged by the absence of the gay kiss on TV, Will sarcastically points out that it reconvening the  Nuremberg jury formed after World War II to prosecute Nazi leaders (1945–46). Jack, unaware of what the trials are, refers to it as "current events".
  • As Karen takes her pills in the office, Grace calls her "valley of the dolls" after the 1967 film of the same name which deals with drug addictions.
  • To get an appointment with the president of NBC, Jack pretends to be actress Julianna Margulies known for her role on ER which aired on NBC.
  • Will tells Jack to "leave the silly protest to Woody Harrelson and his hemp flip-flops", referring to the actor's 1997 environmental protest at the Golden Gate Bridge. Harrelson would later appear on the show in a recurring role.
  • When Will finds Jack using the phone in his office, he pretends to be in an infomercial when he asks "How do you stop unwanted homosexuals from invading your office?".
  • Jack mentions taking issue the Bronx Zoo for taking in a family of fruit bats, a reference to "fruit" as a slang term for a gay man.
  • While discussing constitutional rights, Will mentions one that starts with "wheee, the people!", after the first words of the Preamble to the United States Constitution as well as its colloquial name "We the People".
  • Crazy Sally is re-enacting Johnny Carson's Carnac the Magnificent character when she exclaims the character's punchline sis boom bah. She mentions earlier that she is a fan of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, where the character frequently appeared.
  • Jack mistakes US Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg as a gay man, describing her as "little fellow we like with the glasses". Bader Ginsberg is actually one of the first female justices of the Supreme Court.
  • Al Roker makes a bad joke with Jack referring to the Jack and Jill nursery rhyme.

Media

Today show blooper. Two guys kiss.

Today show blooper. Two guys kiss..al roker recovers

Quotes

Why eat them? Why not just apply them directly to your man-teats? Jackabout Will's cookies

Hetero skinny is very different than homo skinny. You're not in the club. You wouldn't understand. Jack

One giant step for man on mankind. Willwatching the kiss on TV

Gay sex is so hot. Grace

Jack:They wanna pretend we're invisible. Well, what about our constitutional right to see two hotties get it on?
Will:Would that be the constitution that begins "Wheee, the people?"

You have milk in the refrigerator that's so bad, it's now good cheese. Will

Everyone knows, once you have an avuncular weatherman on your side there's no end to your power. Will

I just pray none of my boyfriends saw that tragic display. 'Cause that's like five serious long-term relationships down the tube. Jackabout his televised kiss with Will

References

  1. Walters, S. D. (2001) All the Rage: The Story of Gay Visibility in America. University of Chicago Press
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dalton, M. M., Linder, L. R.. (2016) The Sitcom Reader, Second Edition: America Re-viewed, Still Skewed. SUNY Press
  3. The gay kiss on “The Today Show”
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