NBC found a way to turn back time. It’s been nineteen years since Will & Grace premiered in the fall of 1998, closer to Ronald Reagan’s first public utterance of “AIDS” (1985, despite what Larry Kramer says) than to the Supreme Court’s ruling in support of gay marriage in 2013. And, in light of the exceptionally warm reception for the cast’s 10-minute reunion special urging Americans to vote in the 2016 election, Will & Grace will return to NBC’s comedy lineup for at least two additional seasons beginning Thursday night.
The world has evolved tremendously—thanks in no small part to the show itself—but all signs suggest Will and Grace and Jack and Karen have not. In fact, the writers have reportedly scrapped the series’ original flash-forward ending, in which Will’s son marries Grace’s daughter and thus stops a longstanding feud between the title characters. Therefore, the most significant changes in their lives (marriages, separation, children, etc.) seem to have been erased in order to return the leads to the still-roommates status quo of the show’s earlier seasons. It’s almost as though NBC followed through on its 30 Rock -stated goal to “make it 199 again through science or magic.”
Despite the necessary time warp, Bobby Canavale and Harry Connick, Jr. will reappear as the duo’s erstwhile spouses at some point in the new season. First Lady Forever Michelle Obama, too, will make a special appearance, and Minnie Driver will reprise her role as Karen’s nemesis and former stepdaughter, Lorraine. Sadly, the most memorable recurring guest star, the late Debbie Reynolds, who played Grace’s overbearing mother, Bobbi, passed shortly before production on the new season began.
In advance of the reboot, NBC has made every episode from all eight seasons available for binge-watching for the first time ever. You can relive the Cher episode (both actually), or the ones with Madonna or Elton John. Basically all the great gay icons made appearances on the iconic show, including Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Bebe Neuwirth, Chita Rivera, and, of course, Matt Damon.
So will it be as good as the original? Early reviews praise the cast’s easy chemistry, which was always a strong point for the series. Whether through science or magic or the fickle art of audience testing, NBC seems to have captured lightning in a bottle. Again.
Watch new episodes of Will & Grace on Thursdays at 9pm ET on NBC.