People would not still be talking about Hayes' work as Jack if he weren't a gifted comedian. From physical comedy to the oft-quoted one-liners, Hayes stole every scene he was in. In the clip above, he turns an energetic entrance into a hyper monologue about the cute barista he's been seeing.
There's a great TED Talk by novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche about "The Danger of A Single Story." In it, she says, "The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete." So, yes, there are men who could out-cheer Jack in the clip above, but, as the predominant story of gay men on television at the time, the swishy Jack versus buttoned-up Will dichotomy did little to introduce America to gay men that identified as neither (or both).
On Will & Grace, it seemed like everyone knew Jack was gay but his mother. See his character's coming out in the clip above. Hayes came out publicly in 2010 via an interview in The Advocate in which he said “I feel like I’ve contributed monumentally to the success of the gay movement in America, and if anyone wants to argue that, I’m open to it. You’re welcome, Advocate.” Three years later he went on to tell the L.A. Times he owed the gay community an apology for not coming out sooner.
For anyone who doubts the significance of popular culture in our society, this clip of Vice President Joe Biden on Meet the Press is a must-see. Before President Obama came out in support of same-sex marriage, Vice President Biden issued his support and attributed shifting cultural attitudes to the impact of Will & Grace.
Today, Hayes stars as the divorced gay father of a teenage girl in Sean Saves the World on NBC. In addition to his series, his production company, Hazy Mills Productions, is also behind Hot In Cleveland and The Soul Man on TV Land, as well as Hollywood Game Night and Grimm on NBC.
What do you think? Was it enough for Sean Hayes' work to increase visibility of gay men on television, or did his over-the-top character make it harder for gay men to defy stereotypical perceptions? Let us know in the comments.