Photo: Chris Haston (NBC)

Sure, it’s an embarrassment of riches, but the minds behind this particular episode of Will & Grace could have used a little restraint. For the usual 22-minute episode, we get an A-plot and a B-plot, with the foursome of Will, Grace, Jack, and Karen divided in a variety of different ways. This week, each one of our four main players got their own plot. This was a mistake. And it’s too bad, because a few of the directions were quite good, but got easily overwhelmed by a frantic pace and an overwhelming sense of chaos.

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The Jennifer Lopez guest spot smacks of the darkest days of Will & Grace, when a bunch of celebrities were angling to get on the show toward the end, resulting a number of gratuitous guest spots (although Michael Douglas’ appearance was quite good). She was better in her first appearance, when she accused her backup dancers of not wearing her signature fragrance Glow. And Karen turning the group of children she’s briefly in charge of into a sweatshop production of Annie was over the over the top.

Will and Grace can often be the tame links in the chain on the show, but these two were actually the high points this episode. Especially Will at the baby shower, getting social media advice about his ex from teens Brianna and Ilana. As a relative newcomer to Instagram myself (Instragramma is right), I appreciated the teens’ insight almost as much as Will did—especially the way he immediately regressed into a reasonable facsimile of a high school girl. I could have watched 22 minutes of that conversation easily.

Grace’s plot was also a plus, and like last week, it totally got me: Maybe I should have seen where all of her nasty little notes were going, but I did not. Even better, though, was Grace’s toast at the end, in honor of our choices and our efforts to have everything we need (I can almost abide her self-congratulatory stance afterward): No one, parent or not, childless or no, should ever be made to feel bad about the choices that they’ve made, even or especially at a baby shower. Most everyone is just doing the best that they can, and usually have good reasons behind being where they are at a particular moment—married, single, whatever. And especially, as women, on International Women’s Day no less, we should be embracing all the options available to us, not limiting ourselves (or our friends) by longing for a different path.

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Grace’s emotional toast even had the effect of changing Will’s mind about calling his ex Michael: At a certain point in life (especially where these characters are), you have to stand by your choices you’ve made. And if you’re not where you need to be, you need to make those changes sooner rather than later. Looking forward to seeing the ramifications of Will’s first ex coming back into his life next week.

Maybe Jack and Karen’s one-note stories fared even worse next to that surprisingly effective baby shower. Even the episode title is clunky; one half of it should absolutely have been cut off. Jack fruitlessly blowing an acting job by trying to get Jennifer Lopez to remember him was a lot less enjoyable to watch than Grace taking on the mommy wars and winning, or even Will learning a new vocabulary of “breadcrumbs” and “deep likes.”

Stray observations

  • I thought this line from Will to Grace was really funny, and it didn’t even get a chuckle from the audience: “Let’s say for a second you don’t want to ruin the party…”
  • Sorry, Nazi/Anne Frank jokes are just not funny at the moment; and I actually I doubt that jokes about that, or sweatshops, would ever really be so. That curtain delivery was pretty much the most “work” we’ve ever seen Karen do though.
  • Slo-mo pill pop, why? So cheesy.
  • The teens killed me. “Fantasy sports make me actually want to die.” Also, “Literally what?’
  • Pretty blue episode, from Jack’s stiff neck, Stan’s phone sex, and Grace’s note that must have featured the c-word.
  • This week in “Do I hate Grace’s outfit as much as Karen would?”: Oh my god yes. That fringy blue blouse started off the episode in an alarmingly terrible manner, but the Axel Rose/Rhoda Morgenstern head scarf might be the worst thing I’ve ever seen anyone wear on television. Even Will thought it was bad enough to call out. Sometimes I think this show is just playing with me. The orange blouse and white pants were also retina-scarring. The teens’ dresses were super-cute though.
  • Next episode: The pivotal role of Will’s long-ago ex Michael has been recast—with Glee’s Cheyenne Jackson, no less.

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