Will & Grace features Jane Lynch and Andrew Rannells as gay ‘cure’ camp leaders
Will & Grace scored some major guest stars for the latest episode of the revival series, and took aim at Mike Pence.
Glee’s Jane Lynch made an appearance in Thursday night’s episode of the classic sitcom, which returned to the airwaves last month after a decade away from screens.
The fouth episode, Grandpa Jack, featured an update on an original storyline – Jack’s estranged son from a teenage sperm donation, Elliot.
Elliot made occasional appearances kid throughout the original run, with Jack grappling with his unexpected role as a parent.
The latest episode of the new season revealed a further shock for Jack, as it’s revealed Elliot has had a son, Skip – making Jack is a grandfather.
Jack’s initially stunned to meet his effeminate grandson, but all is not well, as he discovers that Skip’s parents are sending him to ‘Camp Straighten Arrow’.
Skip explains: “It’s a camp my parents found to fix me… so I can be normal”.
Will and Jack spring into action, following Skip and his family to the camp – where they run into the camp counsellors, played by Lynch and Girls star Andrew Rannells, who are both clearly repressing their own sexuality.
The biting parody takes aim at gay ‘conversion’ camps, as the counsellors sing hymns about the things God wants: “Boys only marrying girls”, “suits and dresses on the right person”, and “the whole-natural-order-of-things-where-people-act-like-the-Lord-intended”.
The camp is dressed complete with a poster of Vice President Mike Pence, an alleged supporter of gay ‘cure’ therapy.
Addressing rows of boys wearing blue and girls in pink, Rannells’ character explains: “I’m Reggie, and this here is my beautiful wife of ten weeks, Roberta.
“No flirting, fellas, okay? She’s taken.”
The pair then launch into “reorientation orientation”, explaining that “back in the old days, they used a shock collar to curb any unnatural tendencies.”
They said: “We don’t recognise it as a form of therapy — we only recognise it as a form of torture.”
Governor Pence previously suggested that HIV prevention funding be drained in order to fund state-sponsored ‘gay cure’ therapy.
On a 2000 Congressional campaign website, Pence wrote: “Congress should support the reauthorisation of the [HIV funding] Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour.”
In the episode as in life, it turns out they were overcompensating.
As Jack retrieves Skip from the camp, Will distracts the counsellors with an elaborate ruse – seducing Reggie into kissing him.
Jack has a heart-to-heart with Skip, explaining: “This place can’t fix you because you’re not broken.
He adds: “It was hard for me once, too, but believe me, it gets better.”
“When you get older, you’ll understand that there’s the family you were born into and the family that you choose, and the family I chose… well, it doesn’t get any better than that.
“You’re just gonna have to be really strong.
“I’m gonna be there for you as much as I can, and when I’m not, I want you to picture me in your head, looking at you like I am right now, and saying, ‘You are exactly who you’re supposed to be’.”
The episode ends on a happy note, as Elliot and his wife eventually decide to let Skip leave the camp – even letting Jack take him to his first Broadway show.
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Predictably, Fox News were not fans.
The network complained that the show has become an “anti-Trump infomercial”, claiming there is no proof for Pence’s support for gay cure therapy, and whining that the show “exaggerated stereotypes to portray the right as homophobic.”
With reviews like that from them, it’s hard for it to not get five stars from us.
One key original character has ruled out a return to the show, though – leading to a last-minute replacement.