The popular television series Will & Grace is in its sixth season and the show has gained great notoriety and a large following on the Thursday night, ‘Must See TV’ line up. The shows success is due in part to excellent writing and skilled acting, but there is another factor that contributes to the shows appeal: it’s original.
The backdrop of the story is bigger than you may realize. One of the writers, David Kohan, developed the name for the series while reading from a Jewish writer that wrote about man’s will in comparison to God’s grace. The writer explained that we have to have the will to come to God in order to receive the grace that God wishes to extend to us. David Kohan loved the idea of the tension between man’s will and God’s grace, so he decided to transfer these cosmic forces to real characters on the series; hence, Will & Grace.
Even more interesting is the fact that the story line flowed out of the real life of David Kohan. In the series, Will Truman, played by Eric McCormick, is an intelligent, handsome and successful Manhattan lawyer who happens to be gay. Grace Adler is an interior designer who can tend to be a bit neurotic and scatterbrained, but she is an incredible friend to Will and a great deal of fun to be around. Will is more grounded and stable, yet lonely, while Grace is flighty and spontaneous.
In real life David Kohan broke up with a girl that he was dating because he knew he was gay. The girl was brokenhearted, but they soon became best friends and they remain close even today. This is where the story line comes.
In the series, the tension between Will & Grace is not a sexual tension, but a tension between control, friendship and loyalty. David Kohan has said that the two will never get together in a romantic relationship – even though this is what the audience desires, it simply won’t happen.
It is easy to relate to the characters on the show because we see ourselves in them in so many ways. Will thinks he has it all figured out, but he is lonely most of the time, and the scars from past relationships makes it difficult for him to trust. Grace seems to allow too many people to control her life and she often finds herself perplexed at the relationships she finds herself in. The series livens up even more when you throw in characters like Jack McFarland – Will’s hyper-gay friend, and Karen Walker, a rich socialite that works with Grace and drinks around the clock.
The two cosmic forces of Will and Grace create a powerful pull, and the series brings about some pretty insightful views and raw tensions that mirror the relationship of man’s will and God’s grace.
On the show, Will may not admit it, but he wants Grace all to himself. In short, he wants to be in control but he finds himself out of control, wanting to have Grace but not wanting to have her fully.
Life can be like this sometimes; we want God’s grace, but we are not too comfortable when others receive this grace, especially when we think they don’t deserve it. We find ourselves upset with God for lavishing others with grace, almost as if to say, “God you’re just going to get hurt.”
On the flip side, in the show, Grace is a loose cannon. She is spontaneous, wild, fun to be around and at times this means that she finds herself in some pretty interesting predicaments. Somewhat like Grace Adler, God’s grace is spontaneous, uncontrollable, unthinkable, and absolutely fun to be around. God lavishes His grace at the drop of a hat, whenever He wishes, without the need to get the okay from us. It is surprising, astonishing and completely original.
This great tension between will and grace has an interesting parallel to our relationship to God’s grace.
In one exchange between Will and Grace, Will was getting perturbed because Grace was spending more time with Jack. Will did not want to be replaced and so he did what every guy does – he pouts. Grace pulls him aside to talk to him, sensing that he is upset.
Grace pulls back her sleeve and shows Will a scar on her elbow. She says, “Will, my love for you is like this scar, ugly but permanent.” Grace goes on to tell the story behind the scar. In college Will got dumped, and he called Grace to come and be with him; right away Grace got on her moped and jetted to his dorm. But on the way she slid on some ice and got the scar on her elbow. Will understood, and they made up.
It is fascinating to look at the characters of Will and Grace. To think through the various implications of life, and how the tension in their relationship with one another has so many parallels to our will and God’s grace; sometimes ugly but permanent.