The good news for TV fans everywhere is that “Will & Grace” – one of the most successful, Emmy-nominated comedy series in the history of primetime – is coming back to NBC in 2017. In January, NBC studio executives announced that they had placed a 10-episode order for a “Will & Grace” revival – and then later upped that order to 12 episodes in April. So what can we can expect from this star-studded comedy when it comes to TV in 2017?
#1: The same great cast, just ten years older
What’s remarkable about this “Will & Grace” revival is that NBC has convinced all four stars of the show – and all the show creators – to come back for the revival. That means fans of the show will get to see Debra Messing (who plays Grace Adler), Eric McCormack (who plays the gay lawyer Will Truman), Megan Mullally (who plays Karen Walker) and Sean Hayes (who plays Jack McFarland) reunited again.
From what we’ve seen from all the late-night TV shows where these stars have appeared, they all look almost exactly as they did back in May 2006, when the series ended after 8 wildly successful seasons. For example, Sean Hayes was on the “Jimmy Kimmel Show,” saying how excited he was to see everyone again, and that nobody seems to have aged in 10 years.
That leads to an interesting question for the show’s creators: Do they acknowledge that 10 years have passed since the comedy was last on TV – enough time for everyone to grow up and grow apart, perhaps with new families or new significant others – or do they create a fictional narrative that picks up just 12 or 24 months after the events of the comedy from 2006?
With most revivals, this would be a no-brainer – usually the characters look so much older, that it’s impossible to pretend that things are still the same. But in the case of “Will & Grace,” that’s not necessarily the case.
#2: A series updated for the sensibilities of the Trump era
What convinced NBC studio executives to give “Will & Grace” a revival was the spectacular success of a YouTube video that the cast created back in September 2016 by the cast. The video was a 10-minute special that urged Americans to vote in the upcoming presidential election. The YouTube video contained a lot of jokes about Trump and his team, and was directed against his treatment of both ethnic minorities and LGBT citizens.
For example, Megan Mullally came back as a flag-waving Trump supporter, utterly oblivious to Donald Trump’s worst attributes. That was in sharp opposition to Eric McCormack and Sean Hayes, who let go a barrage of anti-Trump jokes. So it’s quite possible that we could see an updating of “Will & Grace” for the sensibilities of the Trump era. Maybe “Will & Grace” will feature story lines of how the LGBT community is trying to resist Trump and his policies?
#3: More attention on LGBT issues
Not only was “Will & Grace” one of the smartest and funniest comedies on NBC ever, it was also one of the most successful TV series with openly gay characters as the main characters. The LGBT community has picked up the show, and even American politicians have heaped praise on the show for its courage in depicting gay and LGBT characters. So it’s perhaps to be expected that the revival of “Will & Grace” will continue to depict and portray issues that are central to the LGBT community.
For example, we might see episodes featuring protest rallies for the LGBT movement, or we might see some issues such as HIV/AIDS explored in greater detail. Maybe issues like gay marriage will be explored in greater detail.
#4: More great writing and scripts
As noted earlier, NBC is bringing back all of the show’s original creators. This is critical for so many reasons, most importantly because it means the show will continue to have some of the best scripts and dialogue on primetime TV. Over its spectacular eight-season run, “Will & Grace” actually picked up 16 Emmy wins and 83 Emmy nominations.
So we can expect to have more of the same great writing when “Will & Grace” returns in 2017. That means plenty of great dialogue, lots of great jokes, and plenty of the same fluid interaction between the show’s four stars that we’ve come to expect.
This is what will separate the revival of “Will & Grace” from other revivals. Usually, shows lose their focus over time, and bring in some celebrity producer or director to “update” the show in some new way. But that’s not what hard-core fans really want.
#5: Knowing winks at show nostalgia
Consider the election-themed video that the cast created in 2016 – the reason why it became such a viral hit is because it tapped into the deep nostalgia of TV viewers. When the show first debuted back in September 1998, we were on the cusp of a new century, and it seemed like a very unique time period in American history. And so viewers are naturally very nostalgic about that time period.
It’s almost a given, then, that the show will try to wrap up all the loose ends from the series. As in most revivals, we’ll see cameo roles from some of the characters that were nearest and dearest to us. And we’ll learn how they’ve moved on with their lives.
It’s almost a certainty that the “Will & Grace” revival will be a slam-dunk hit starting on the first night of viewing. The fact that NBC was so ready to green light the revival – and that all the star cast members immediately signed on – is further proof of just how much pent-up viewer demand there is for this show. This was simply one of the best shows on TV a decade ago, and it looks like the show has aged remarkably well, just like all the cast members. Most viewers will no doubt be eagerly awaiting all the funny scenes and dialogue featuring Will, Grace, Karen and Jack.