To Find Love, Will & Grace Creator Max Mutchnick Had to Learn to Let Go

Love Portfolio: Max Mutchnik + Erik Hyman

Max Mutchnick, Co Creator, Will & Grace

I remember standing on the stage watching the last episode of Will & Grace being filmed, and looking at Eric McCormack and Bobby Cannavale and this kid we’d hired as their child, and thinking to myself, Oh, my God, something has changed — I was always ahead of where Will was in his life. I was so the guy with the fantastic career who just could not get it right in love, and I used to wonder at night if that was what my life was going to be like. I think the big lesson for me is that you can have it all, but that you just can’t have it all at the same time — because Will & Grace filled up my life from 30 to 40 so completely, and Erik has been in my life from the end of my 30s until now.

I met him in the lobby of a drag show, and — where and when does this ever happen in the world, but we have witnesses on both sides — I said to the people I was with, “I met the guy that I want to marry.” And Erik said to his friends, “I met the guy that I’m going to marry.” A big cue came when we were setting up our first date, and I suggested the Polo Lounge, the Ivy, and the Tower Bar, and he wrote back, “That vibe is not going to work for me — I don’t want that to be what our dinner is,” which I just thought was so incredibly thoughtful and grounded. It was at that point that I just said, “Why don’t you take control?” — which is something I never do. I was just so fond of him so, so fast. But I am a Scorpio through and through, so the minute I knew we had chemistry I just started thinking, Where is this going to go, what’s happening, how does he feel? And because I was so comfortable, I just stopped in the middle of the dinner and said, “How are we doing?” And he looked at me after a beat and said, “We like each other a lot.”

The day after, he sent flowers to my office, and I called him meaning to say, “I love the flowers,” and instead I said, “I love you,” and then I said, “I’m so sorry, that slipped out. I didn’t mean to say that so fast.” And he said to me, “It’s OK because I love you, too.”

I had always said to myself, Part of the reason your writing works is because you’re honest, and I knew that if I didn’t have an honest relationship I was going to fail at it. I didn’t have an example of it when I was growing up because my father died when I was very young and my mother was single my entire life, and so I had a fear of, Oh my god, this might elude me — I might go through my life and not end up having one of these things.

When I met Erik I took the greatest exhale of my life because I knew that I was going to escape having the ultimate fear of a gay man who grew up in the ’70s and ’80s: that you’re going to die alone, chasing some hooker around a pool with a snifter of Courvoisier in your hand.

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Erik Hyman, Lawyer
Coincidentally, the week I met Max a friend of mine was trying to tell me I should call him — “He’s available, he’s cute, he’s nice.” She’s a straight woman, and a lot of times straight women may know two gay guys and they think those two gay guys should go out, so I didn’t put much stock in it. And then we physically bumped into each other at the drag show. I said hi, and then I had to pick up some bottles I’d knocked over, because I’m a little bit of a klutz, and as I was picking them up he walked away and didn’t finish our hello. I was, like, OK, there’s that. I went back to my friends, and Max found me again and said, “You’re Erik Hyman. We have this friend in common who wants us to meet,” and I said, “Yes, let’s have dinner.” I just figured, Dinner will tell us.

I guess some people walk down the aisle and think, I wonder if I’m making the right decision, but very early on I figured, If I can make this guy want to be with me I’m going to have a fantastic life, so the only thing I have to do is be the type of guy he wants to be with, which I felt was pretty close to who I was anyway, so it wasn’t hard. For whatever reason, he’s more of a bully who gets what he wants, and gets mad when he doesn’t, so I had to teach him that I was not going to get accustomed to him raising his voice, and he’s had to learn about what works for me in the relationship. A lot of times I say to him, “There’s no reason why you can’t just be nice right now.” Of course, I think I’m perfect, and that’s half of our problem — he has to face my superiority complex all the time.

We started the process of having kids very fast, within a year. Other than coming out as gay, realizing that I did want to have children was the single biggest revelation of my life. For a gay guy of my generation it just didn’t feel like children were going to be a thing I could have — it just wasn’t something presented to me as an option. As a reflex, when asked the question, “Do you want to have children?” I said no, and I thought I meant it.

Max is an amazing parent. These two little girls have two dads, and one of their dads, Max, is very interested in a lot of the things you might stereotypically think a mom would be interested in: the way their hair looks, how they dress, and being polite. It’s very sweet watching him parent them because they have that beautiful unique attachment to him that you have with a mom.

We combined the naming ceremony for the kids with the wedding. It took a lot of time — there’s a lot of Jewish ritual to it. And the truth is that Max and I walked down the aisle, and people were looking at us, and it felt corny. We looked at each other afterwards and said, “Did we really need to do that?” The best part about it was that we didn’t invite a lot of people so not that many people know how bad it was. I love being married to him, but the wedding was silly. If we did it again, I’d just get the license from City Hall and take a trip to Kauai.

 

Photography: Luke Fontana

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