'Will & Grace' Boss Donates John Oliver's 'Marlon Bundo' to Every Elementary School in Indiana

Oliver's LGBT-friendly parody of a book by Mike Pence's wife and daughter will soon grace the shelves of every library in the vice president's home state.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images (Mutchnick); Courtesy of Chronicle Books (Cover)
'A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo' (Inset: Max Mutchnick)

Indiana's elementary-school libraries are about to get an inclusive new addition to their picture-book shelves.

On Friday, Will & Grace showrunner Max Mutchnick tweeted a letter that announced he would be sending A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, an LGBT-friendly parody children's book masterminded by the team behind HBO's Last Week Tonight, to every elementary school in Indiana — all 1,121 of them.

"I would like to donate this copy of A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo to your library. After hearing about the book, I brought it home and read it to my twin daughters. It's a poignant story about how love and community can rise above intolerance," Mutchnick wrote in his letter, which he intends to send to every elementary school in the state.

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo is a parody version of Marlon Bundo's A Day in the Life of the Vice President, written by the daughter of Vice President and former Indiana Governor Mike Pence and illustrated by his wife, which chronicles the life of their pet bunny inside the White House. John Oliver and the Last Week Tonight team's version pokes fun at Pence's political history of resisting LGBT-friendly legislation and features a storyline of the rabbit falling in love with and marrying another male rabbit.

"My grammar school library was something I always remembered as a safe haven. Books allow children to dream and hope, but you know that already," Mutchnick added in his letter. "Thanks to libraries and librarians like you, storytelling not only became my passion — it also became my profession. I hope your students enjoy this book as much as my family and I did."

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Mutchnick about the gesture, which he said was inspired by watching Oliver announce the parody tale on his show last week.

"Here’s why: Mike Pence has had an enormous platform in Indiana, and as it relates to gay people, he’s used it to spread a message of intolerance," Mutchnick says. "By donating these books, I hope to counter those efforts and provide positive role models and a story of inclusion for children in Pence’s home state. If this book can help one boy or girl in Indiana love and accept who they are, I know both Marlon Bundos would be proud — even though one of them is on the down-low."

(While Mutchnick declined to comment on how much the donation set him back, THR did some math, and with an Amazon list price of $12.25, 1,121 hard copies would cost $13,732.25 before tax.)

Not long after Oliver announced that he was selling copies of the parody book, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo became the No. 1 best-seller on Amazon. The host announced that the book had sold out, but that its publisher was doing a reprint and that new copies would arrive in the next few weeks.

When it debuted in 1998, Will & Grace famously became the first popular sitcom to feature two gay male leads. While the precise nature of its cultural impact continues to be the subject of hot debate today, the show has a fan in former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden: In 2012, he told Meet the Press, "I think Will & Grace probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has ever done so far."

Will & Grace's revival season concludes with the second half of a two-part finale next week, and the show is already set to return for two more seasons.

 

I was blown away by the new John Oliver children’s book, “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo.” With Easter upon us, I wanted to not only support the brilliance of John Oliver, but also celebrate the Gayest Bunny of Them All: The Easter Bunny. So I decided to buy a copy of Oliver’s “Bundo” (written by Jill Twiss) for every public grammar school in Indiana. All 1,121 of them. Here’s why: Mike Pence has had an enormous platform in Indiana, and as it relates to gay people, he’s used it to spread a message of intolerance. By donating these books, I hope to counter those efforts and provide positive role models and a story of inclusion for children in Pence’s home state. If this book can help one boy or girl in Indiana love and accept who they are, I know both Marlon Bundos would be proud—even though one of them is on the downlow.

A post shared by Max Mutchnick (@maxmutchnick) on

Jackie Strause contributed to this story.