Not A Couple Show Notes: Will & Grace Episode 3.20 — “A Old-Fashioned Piano Party:”

The real question is: What does a new-fashioned piano party look like? Is there just coke all over the piano?

We had a good time this week — a good old-fashioned time, in fact.

As we’re getting to the end of Season 3, and starting to look back on the full array of episodes we’ve watched, it’s starting to become clear that this has been a season of extremes. We’ve seen some of the greatest episodes of this show so far — the 80s flashback alone is Top 5, and we’ve even had episodes with plot development! — and we’ve hit bleak streaks with just one bad or blemished episode after another.

What we’ve realized is that — unlike many shows — W&G is actually at its best when it does try to do everything. This episode is both hilarious and serious. Both smutty and sweet. Both a forward-looking character development moment and a fluffy non sequitur.

And so if the revival can just remember to be everything good about Will & Grace (not just the funny bits), I think we’re in for a real treat in a few weeks.

Summary: Grace finds out that somegay out in the world has abandoned somegirl so she attempts to chain Will to their brand-new piano forever. Then Karen finds out that somegay has broken Jack’s heart and made him write smut so hot she’s willing to pay for it. Objectively Matthew and Tess can relate to all of this.

“This episode is sponsored by the latest Harlequeen romance: ‘To Weep and To Willow.’”

Things That Happened

00:00: Is “an old-fashioned piano party” even a real thing?

WILL: “Please stop saying ‘old-fashioned piano party.’ There’s no such thing as an old-fashioned piano party. Just because you keep saying ‘old-fashioned piano party’ doesn’t mean it exists!”
LARRY: “I have to tell you, this is a great old-fashioned piano party. Even better than the ones my mom used to throw.”

01:10: This week’s gay erotica plotline is not afraid to get down and dirty.
04:14: Karen fills an interesting role this week, as the sex-positive antihero we need, giving us more Harlequeen romance.
05:00: Did you know fanfic writers will sometimes write porn for each other to give as gifts? The more you know! (TM)

Tess: “It’s kind of like a joke … but it’s an open joke. People do literally dedicate porn to each other.”
Matthew: “See, I never realized that until you started writing a fic that had that kind of subtext in it…”
Tess: “I wasn’t as successful when I was writing exclusively Harry Potter fic. But now that I am a bit more of a prevalent fanfiction author, I am occasionally gifted with porn. Which is great!”

06:48: We have nothing else to add about this B-plot, other than that we want Jack to continue his erotica career and get super famous.
07:19: This show packs A LOT of stuff into its main plot this week.
07:51: Thanks to Blonde Grace (aka Heidi), this episode kicks off when Grace realizes that one day she and Will might not be friends…and then decides to force him to stay with her at piano-point.

Matthew: “It’s a good plotline. We’ve done bits and pieces of this before, but I think this is the first time we’re dealing with Will and Grace grappling with the potential temporality of their friendship.”
Tess: “And I also like that the thing that might cause them to break apart is nothing to do with external forces. It’s entirely Grace’s anxiety that they’re just going to drift apart.”

10:10: We’re sort of impressed with the ingenuity of Grace forcing Will to buy a piano with her, but also confused?
11:53: The irrational fear of your platonic life partner drifting away from you is a real life problem too, guys.
14:31: This is the first time W&G manages to successfully pivot from a serious moment into a funny one.

GRACE: “We’re not a couple. We’re not married. We don’t have kids. What do we have to keep us together?”
WILL: “Love. [SINGING] Love will keep us together.”

15:53: There isn’t really a good answer to Grace’s problem this week — they might grow apart from each other one day. In fact, that’s originally how the show ends.
17:12: Matthew and Tess think about how the revival is implicitly rejecting the idea that Will and Grace might ever stop being friends.

Link Roundup

Slashfic, a History: As always, The Toast has what you are looking for. Please also consider this oral history of fanfiction. Or, perhaps, this article on old-fashioned fanfiction.

Porn Dedications: There aren’t a lot of links we can share if you don’t want to see literal porn dedicated to Tess, but trust us when we say that gifting porn to a fellow writer is a huge compliment in the fanfiction community. Porn for birthdays, porn for holidays, porn because it’s Tuesday. You get the idea.

Next Episode: S3E21: “The Young and the Tactless”