Folks, it finally happened: Karen Walker’s bisexuality is no longer just a running gag.
On last week’s episode of Will & Grace, out actress Samira Wiley took a guest role, playing off Megan Mullally’s Karen, whose own bisexuality has been the subject of funny jokes and backstory since the first iteration of the show in the late ‘90s. Wiley’s character engages Karen Walker in a kiss — taking the iconic character’s alleged queerness from punchline to actual plot point.
As Heather Hogan at Autostraddle perfectly summarized, over the years Karen “hit on the only woman Will ever slept with. She hit on Candice Bergen. She claimed to have converted Martina Navratilova. But it was mostly just a running gag. Karen never, ever, ever, ever had a relationship with a woman on-screen. She did, however, have several long term relationships with super wealthy, super shitty men.”
Well, cut to this season, after Karen’s divorce from Stan, she’s dating some other terrible man (portrayed by Alec Baldwin). But Karen and Nikki are conveniently stuck inside during a snowstorm, where Nikki adeptly sweeps Karen off her feet.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Wiley will return for a short guest arc for the last few episodes of the season.
Over the years, Will & Grace has been praised for its representation of openly LGBTQ+ characters, earning Emmy nods and various other awards along the way. But its reboot posed a series of questions for a modern queer audience: Is its portrayal of (white, cis) gay men actually backwards? Do we need more honest storylines about sexuality, rather than the straight characters getting all the meaningful story arcs when it comes to dating and relationships? Shouldn’t gayness be more than just a punchline on prime time television, finally?
Well, now that Samira Wiley has arrived, we’re just going to say this: This Will & Grace reboot deserves a second look.