Is the 'Will & Grace' Revival Gonna Be Any Good?
The beloved sitcom is returning—and it's yet to be seen whether it can avoid seeming dated in today's social climate.
At the beginning of the Television Critics Association's Will & Grace panel, NBC announced that the revival—which has yet to premiere—has already been picked up for a second, 13-episode season. On paper, it makes sense: The fan reaction to the original news that Will & Grace was returning has been largely positive. But it's hard to picture this show existing in 2017, because during today's earlier NBC executive session, it was emphasized that this show will return unchanged. The revival will even ignore the series finale—where Will and Grace drifted apart and raised children with their respective partners—an episode that the EPs now consider to be "more or less a fantasy."
Will & Grace previously went off the air after eight seasons back in 2006. It'll return for 16 episodes (expanded from 12) on September 28. It's undeniable that the series was a hit (it won 16 Emmy awards)—especially due to the cast's infectious chemistry—and it's clear that they're gunning to work together again. According to Megan Mullally, the core cast had replied to co-creator's Max Mutchnick's email to "do something" together within 45 minutes, resulting in the election special that helped spurned NBC's decision to order a new season. "We all came together and read, and it felt like coming home," said Debra Messing, of their first table read back together. "To have another opportunity to do it, it's a no-brainer."
But Will & Grace is very much an early 2000s show; there were a number of awkward and transphobic jokes that made me cringe upon re-watching last month. How will the series update to reflect our current reality: the current LGBTQ issues, the series' original lack of racial diversity, the rough political climate? Messing did acknowledge that the original focused a lot on the "LGB" but stopped there; she hopes that "now we get to finish the alphabet." (It does not bode well that this answer was cut off by one of the creators piping up with "Will and Greg!") As for more diversity? Co-creator David Kohan said "it will be addressed," but he didn't spill any details.
And yes, the show will definitely address Trump (after all, Karen voted for him) rather than ignoring the changing times. "We're not going to be writing the show as if it's 1996 or 97. We're going to be writing the show as if these four are living in 2017," said Mutchnick. Messing later added that quintessential Will & Grace goals are "first to make people laugh out loud" but also to "shine the light on what's happening today, in our culture" and described their approach as a mixture of being provocative and sassy.
The show isn't going full political—despite Mullally's joke that it will be "very, very similar" to CNBC—because, as Sean Hayes quipped, it's still a sitcom and not a news program. But Hayes also said that "the show has always been relevant, and under the umbrella of relevance is everything: politics, social issues, sex." Now, it's just a matter of waiting to see how the show will specifically approach these issues.
Will & Grace returns on September 28 on NBC.