5 things the writers of 'Will and Grace' should consider before the upcoming reboot.

"Will & Grace" is returning to TV for a limited 10-episode run.

The show debuted in 1998, near the end of what Entertainment Weekly dubbed "The gay '90s." It was another effort for NBC to capitalize on what Miami University media professor Ron Becker dubbed "the Slumpy class" — socially liberal, urban-minded professionals. Through eight seasons and more than 180 episodes, that's exactly what "Will & Grace" did.

If you missed "Will & Grace" the first time around. Here's a refresher.

Will (Eric McCormack) and Grace (Debra Messing) are a former couple turned best friends turned roommates. Will is gay and an attorney. Grace is straight and an interior designer. The cast is rounded out by Jack (Sean Hayes), their flamboyant friend who dreams of stardom; Karen (Megan Mullally), who is technically Grace's assistant but usually gets intoxicated and hangs out; and Rosario (Shelley Morrison), Karen's loyal maid. They laugh, they cry, shenanigans ensue, they fall in and out of love, the audience laughs really, really loudly: It was sitcom gold.

The cast of "Will & Grace," from left, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes, Debra Messing, and Megan Mullally. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Though the show was campy and silly, it was pretty groundbreaking at the time.

When the show began, Will was the only gay character leading a show on prime-time TV. His sexuality wasn't mentioned in early promotions for the show (apparently even promoting to "the Slumpys" had its limits), but as the show went on, it broke new ground not just for having a gay lead but for the issues it raised.

From the episode "Whatever Happened to Baby Gin?" in Season 8. Photo by Chris Haston/NBC, courtesy of the Everett Collection.

In the first season episode,"Will Works Out," Will has to deal with his own homophobia after calling Jack a fag at the gym. Later in "Acting Out," Jack and Will go down to the "Today" show to protest a gay kiss being cut from an NBC show, and they end up kissing each other. Will gives boyfriend Matt (Patrick Dempsey) the boot after he won't come out of the closet at work in "Brothers, a Love Story."

For every affirming, innovative moment, there was camp. After all, it was first and foremost a screwball comedy. There were Cher and Madonna walk-ons. There were jazz hands. There were constant reminders for viewers that they were, in fact, watching a "gay show," even if the representations were mostly "safe" and unthreatening to the general public.

GIF via "Will & Grace."

It's been over 10 years since the show ended its eight-season run, and needless to say, a lot has changed.

Three-dimensional gay characters, while still short on lead roles, are more common than they were in "the gay '90s." In 2015, GLAAD found 35 gay, lesbian, or bisexual characters on prime-time broadcast television. That's around 4% of all characters on prime-time broadcast TV.

Since we last saw the "Will & Grace" gang, gay marriage has became legal, bathroom bills have made their way across the country, and we've elected a president whose early appointees already have a lackluster track record on civil rights.

So if "Will & Grace" wants to remain as edgy, relevant, and frankly funny as it used to be, here are five things the reboot needs:

1. Get some friends of color in the mix.

They live and work in New York City. How hard is it for Will and Grace to have some black friends? This doesn't mean they should pull a "Gilmore Girls" and flood the background with black and brown actors. I mean real speaking parts with some character development. People of color can hang with the gang too, and it doesn't have to be stunt casting. (But the writers will have to get rid of cheap shots about confusing Mexicans and Salvadorans.)

The white background is really just overkill at this point. Photo by George Lange/NBC.

2. Can we move away from food-shaming Grace?

Grace loved to eat. It was kind of her schtick. There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying food, but Grace's fondness for food was played up as a character flaw. She was portrayed as an almost gluttonous, emotional eater, unable to resist any snack sent her way, especially when she was down in the dumps. Yet, she remained slim and trim because while "Will & Grace" was considered envelope-pushing TV, a fat woman was considered a bridge too far. It was an infuriating aspect of the show.

Episode "Forbidden Fruit" from Season 8. Photo by Chris Haston/NBC, courtesy of the Everett Collection.

As Sadie Stein wrote for Jezebel, "It says, 'I may look glamorous, but I have the mind and soul of a fat person! And this is hilarious!' Not incidentally, this also plays into that old male fantasy: the un-neurotic guy's girl who can chow down on a steak and still look like a centerfold."

3. More representation from the LGBTQ community, please.

In the late '90s, it was enough to just have gay characters on TV. The bar has been raised. Time for "Will & Grace" to move beyond the one-note representations of Will and Jack and include more diverse portrayals of the LGBTQ community. A gender nonconforming yoga instructor? Can Grace date a bisexual guy? You see where I'm going. And ideally, those actors would be gay, trans, or nonbinary in real life. One can dream.

The show can still be silly and funny, but let's up the inclusivity and think about the types of people falling in and out of love or being the butt of the joke. AV Club writer Joe Reid said it best in his piece on the show's legacy, "For any show about gay men in a world that is steadily allowing them to exist outside the closet, it’s important to investigate the self-policing that was (and still is) happening regarding butch, 'masc,' and femme portrayals."

GIF via "Will & Grace."

4. Let's let Jack and Will be sexual beings.

On a similar note, gay characters can kiss, flirt, make out, have sex, hook up, enter long-term relationships, and in general have sexual agency. Too often, Will and Jack were essentially neuters with punchlines. If the character is gay, let them be gay and give their romances and relationships the time and weight they deserve.

Eric McCormack and Sean Hayes in Season 6. Photo via NBC, courtesy of the Everett Collection.

5. The gang can (and should) challenge President Donald Trump and his agenda.

To be fair, they've already kinda started. The cast reunited for a mini-episode last fall all about the election, but they're in a unique position to go further. In the late '90s, people saw "Will & Grace" as irreverent and subversive. If there's ever a time to resist the status quo, it's now. The 10-minute video should serve as a comedic warning shot to Trump and his ilk: If you insist on appointing, hiring, and amplifying voices of hate, then no place will be safe for you. Even prime-time network comedies.

So welcome back, "Will & Grace." I await your reboot with an open mind.

I just hope you're coming back with a story we haven't heard before. Otherwise, stay just what you are: A lighthearted, irreverent, sometimes boundary-pushing sitcom that was just fine where we left it ... in 2006.

Photo by George Lange/NBC, courtesy of the Everett Collection.

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan
True

Growing up in Indonesia, Farwiza Farhan always loved the ocean. It's why she decided to study marine biology. But the more she learned, the more she realized that it wasn't enough to work in the ocean. She needed to protect it.

"I see the ocean ecosystem collapsing due to overfishing and climate change," she says. "I felt powerless and didn't know what to do [so] I decided to pursue my master's in environmental management."

This choice led her to work in environmental protection, and it was fate that brought her back home to the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia — one of the last places on earth where species such as tigers, orangutans, elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros still live in the wild today. It's also home to over 300 species of birds, eight of which are endemic to the region.

"When I first flew over the Leuser Ecosystem, I saw an intact landscape, a contiguous block of lush, diverse vegetation stretched through hills and valleys. The Leuser is truly a majestic landscape — one of a kind."

She fell in love. "I had my first orangutan encounter in the Leuser Ecosystem," she remembers. "As the baby orangutan swung from the branches, seemingly playing and having fun, the mother was observing us. I was moved by the experience."

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

"Over the years," she continues, "the encounters with wildlife, with people, and with the ecosystem itself compounded. My curiosity and interest towards nature have turned into a deep desire to protect this biodiversity."

So, she began working for a government agency tasked to protect it. After the agency dismantled for political reasons in the country, Farhan decided to create the HAkA Foundation.

"The goals [of HAkA] are to protect, conserve and restore the Leuser Ecosystem while at the same time catalyzing and enabling just economic prosperity for the region," she says.

"Wild areas and wild places are rare these days," she continues. "We think gold and diamonds are rare and therefore valuable assets, but wild places and forests, like the Leuser Ecosystems, are the kind of natural assets that essentially provide us with life-sustaining services."

"The rivers that flow through the forest of the Leuser Ecosystem are not too dissimilar to the blood that flows through our veins. It might sound extreme, but tell me — can anyone live without water?"

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

So far, HAkA has done a lot of work to protect the region. The organization played a key role in strengthening laws that bring the palm oil companies that burn forests to justice. In fact, their involvement led to an unprecedented, first-of-its-kind court decision that fined one company close to $26 million.

In addition, HAkA helped thwart destructive infrastructure plans that would have damaged critical habitat for the Sumatran elephants and rhinos. They're working to prevent mining destruction by helping communities develop alternative livelihoods that don't damage the forests. They've also trained hundreds of police and government rangers to monitor deforestation, helping to establish the first women ranger teams in the region.

"We have supported multiple villages to create local regulation on river and land protection, effectively empowering communities to regain ownership over their environment."

She is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year. The donation she receives as a nominee is being awarded to the Ecosystem Impact Foundation. The small local foundation is working to protect some of the last remaining habitats of the critically endangered leatherback turtle that lives on the west coast of Sumatra.

"The funds will help the organization keep their ranger employed so they can continue protecting the islands, endangered birds and sea turtle habitats," she says.

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen. Do you know an inspiring woman like Farwiza? Nominate her today!

Tired of avocados turning brown? Try this simple trick.

Ah, the delicious, creamy avocado. We love it, despite its fleeting ripeness and frustrating tendency to turn brown when you try to store it. From salads to guacamole to much-memed millennial avocado toast, the weird berry (that's right—it's a berry) with the signature green flesh is one of the more versatile fruits, but also one of the more fickle. Once an avocado is ready, you better cut it open within hours because it's not going to last.

Once it's cut, an avocado starts to oxidize, turning that green flesh a sickly brown color. It's not harmful to eat, but it's not particularly appetizing. The key to keeping the browning from happening is to keep the flesh from being exposed to oxygen.

Some people rub an unused avocado half with oil to keep oxidation at bay. Others swear by squeezing some lemon juice over it. Some say placing plastic wrap tightly over it with the pit still in it will keep it green.

But a YouTube video from Avocados from Mexico demonstrates a quick, easy, eco-friendly way to store half an avocado that doesn't require anything but a container and some water.

Keep Reading Show less
Courtesy of Ms. Lopez
True

Marcella Lopez didn't always want to be a teacher — but once she became one, she found her passion. That's why she's stayed in the profession for 23 years, spending the past 16 at her current school in Los Angeles, where she mostly teaches children of color.

"I wanted purpose, to give back, to live a life of public service, to light the spark in others to think critically and to be kind human beings," she says. "More importantly, I wanted my students to see themselves when they saw me, to believe they could do it too."

Ms. Lopez didn't encounter a teacher of color until college. "That moment was life-changing for me," she recalls. "It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin as a student. Always remembering how I felt in that college class many years ago has kept me grounded year after year."

It's also guided her teaching. Ms. Lopez says she always selects authors and characters that represent her students and celebrate other ethnicities so students can relate to what they read while also learning about other cultures.

"I want them to see themselves in the books they read, respect those that may not look like them and realize they may have lots in common with [other cultures] they read about," she says.

She also wants her students to have a different experience in school than she did.

When Ms. Lopez was in first grade, she "was speaking in Spanish to a new student, showing her where the restroom was when a staff member overheard our conversation and directed me to not speak in Spanish," she recalls. "In 'this school,' we only speak English," she remembers them saying. "From that day forward, I was made to feel less-than and embarrassed to speak the language of my family, my ancestors; the language I learned to speak first."

Part of her job, she says, is to find new ways to promote acceptance and inclusion in her classroom.

"The worldwide movement around social justice following the death of George Floyd amplified my duty as a teacher to learn how to discuss racial equity in a way that made sense to my little learners," she says. "It ignited me to help them see themselves in a positive light, to make our classroom family feel more inclusive, and make our classroom a safe place to have authentic conversations."

One way she did that was by raising money through DonorsChoose to purchase books and other materials for her classroom that feature diverse perspectives.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

The Allstate Foundation recently partnered with DonorsChoose to create a Racial Justice and Representation category to encourage teachers like Ms. Lopez to create projects that address racial equity in the classroom. To launch the category, The Allstate Foundation matched all donations to these projects for a total of $1.5 million. Together, they hope to drive awareness and funding to projects that bring diversity, inclusion, and identity-affirming learning materials into classrooms across the country. You can see current projects seeking funding here.

When Ms. Lopez wanted to incorporate inclusive coloring books into her lesson plans, The Allstate Foundation fully funded her project so she was able to purchase them.

"I'm a lifelong learner, striving to be my best version of myself and always working to inspire my little learners to do the same," she says. Each week, Ms. Lopez and the students would focus on a page in the book and discuss its message. And she plans to do the same again this school year.

"DonorsChoose has been a gamechanger for my students. Without the support of all the donors that come together on this platform, we wouldn't have a sliver of what I've been able to provide for my students, especially during the pandemic," she says.

"My passion is to continue striving to be excellent, and to continue to find ways to use literature as an anchor, depicting images that reflect my students," she says.

To help teachers like Ms. Lopez drive this important mission forward, donate on DonorsChoose.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

This story was originally published on The Mighty and originally appeared here on 07.21.17


Most people imagine depression equals “really sad," and unless you've experienced depression yourself, you might not know it goes so much deeper than that. Depression expresses itself in many different ways, some more obvious than others. While some people have a hard time getting out of bed, others might get to work just fine — it's different for everyone.

Keep Reading Show less

Dog groomer, librarian and knight.

Blink 182 said it best: Work sucks, I know.

When we're kids, we dream of becoming astronauts, marine biologists, firefighters … only to discover that these jobs are nowhere near what we imagined them to be. As it turns out, all jobs require work, sadly.

A recent Reddit thread asked: "What is an overly romanticized job?" And though the answers are blunt, they do reveal another side of these so-called "dream jobs."

Keep Reading Show less