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'Will & Grace' Is Back, Though You'd Never Know They Left
September 28, 2017  | By David Hinckley  | 2 comments

The way Will & Grace gets back in the game, you’d never know it had been gone.

The fondly remembered sitcom hits the ground joking at 9 p.m. Thursday on NBC, with the whole original core cast intact: Debra Messing as Grace Adler, Eric McCormack as Will Truman, Sean Hayes as Jack McFarland, and Megan Mullally as Karen Walker.

The 11-year gap since the original Will & Grace finale in 2006 is quickly acknowledged through a series of one-liners that simultaneously catapult the storyline into the present.

Specifically, the target of those jokes becomes Donald Trump’s America, which happens to fit seamlessly with the show’s history.

Its original eight-seasons broke significant ground for LGBT characters, with both male leads being gay and no sense this was any big issue.

In an era when we’re seeing a resurgence of cultural conservatism – underscored this week by an Alabama senatorial primary in which the winner is notorious for his aggressively anti-gay rhetoric and positions – Will & Grace is doubling down on its own message of “We’re here, get used to it.”

One of the running riffs in the first episode is that a lot of people in significant political positions, like Congress and the Secret Service, are gay.

Riff in point: Will is writing a protest letter to his local congressman over the gutting of environmental protection regulations. He and Jack are also noticing how cute this congressman looks, despite his regressive politics.

“You want to hook up with a power gay,” Jack says to Will. “It’s called an Anderson Cooper. It used to be called an Elton John.”

That line confirms that not every joke is going to be ideological. Another line confirms that some of them will be: One of the (gay) Secret Service agents casually remarks to Jack, “Our job’s actually easier now. The nut jobs we protected the last president from are this guy’s biggest supporters.”

In the larger picture, while Will & Grace has always loved mining popular culture and wading into socio-political waters, it has never put all its chips on that number.   

It was and remains primarily a show about these four people – neurotic Grace, slightly more focused Will, free spirit Jack, and oblivious Karen. Furthermore, while they all have lives and do things, we’re not following their stories as much as we’re enjoying their company.

Will & Grace still is the relatively rare sitcom that’s often written to the joke yet manages to create characters who aren’t simply caricatures.

It’s mentioned almost incidentally, for instance, that Grace has moved back in with Will because she’s getting divorced. That will presumably come up again, but it’s not served up as a storyline because our real interest as viewers is reassurance that Will and Grace themselves still have their comic chemistry.

Meanwhile, Karen’s sense of social and financial superiority fits perfectly into 2017, where she turns out to move in the same circles as Melania Trump.

This lands Grace a job that probably wouldn’t stand up to a strict plausibility test but sets up an amusing series of one-liners and a chance for Grace to do some moral soul-searching that takes her, well, exactly where we’d expect.

In this golden age of TV revivals, the main question for most shows is whether the chemistry can be put back together. With Will & Grace, it feels like it never came apart.

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The revivall falls flat, forced and two dimensional
Oct 12, 2017   |  Reply
Still waiting for the Cosby revival where the kids find out Dad was a dbag behind the scenes,hiding behind his OB/GYN practice and committing crimes under the same roof. Mom The Lawyer is retained by the women he raped.This will be the next Dick Wolf franchise- L&O:True Crimes/Fake Characters series. This could go on longer than SVU.
Sep 28, 2017   |  Reply
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