Title

Decoding Will and Grace: Mass audience reception of a popular network situation comedy

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2003

Abstract

The television situation comedy Will and Grace is notable as the first successful network prime-time series to feature gay characters in a gay milieu. The show's considerable popularity begs the question of how the show's gay sensibility and humor, particularly the gay trickster character, Jack, is received by a heterosexual audience. This article discusses the notion of gay humor, considers the show's history, analyzes several episodes, and scrutinizes the responses of 136 college students who watched the show. Viewers do not identify with Jack and regard him as the most frequent butt of humor on the show, but they also consider him the funniest character and, by a very slight margin, their favorite. Contrary to my original hypotheses, respondent characterizations of Jack tend to reflect appreciation for all aspects of his trickster personality, though his ostentatious sexuality tends to be ignored.

Publication Name

Sociological Perspectives

Volume Number

46

First Page

513

Last Page

533

Issue Number

4

DOI

10.1525/sop.2003.46.4.513

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