Will & Grace
TV Series Review
When Will & Grace first plopped down on the NBC television couch in 1998, homosexual characters were still an anomaly on television.
Roseanne had featured the first gay kiss just four years earlier. Ellen DeGeneres had just come out on her self-titled sitcom in 1997—and her show was cancelled the next year. And before Will & Grace, an American sitcom had never been anchored by a pair of openly gay characters: the titular Will and his friend, Jack.
The series proved enormously popular. Even now, the LGBTQ community lauds it as a landmark cultural moment for its movement. In 2012, then-Vice President Joseph Biden said it "probably did more to educate the American public [on LGBTQ issues] than almost anything anybody's ever done so far."
But no show—with the possible exception of The Simpsons runs forever. After eight seasons and steadily declining ratings, Will & Grace officially signed off in 2006. For good.
Or did it?
While it may be true that no show runs forever (except for The Simpsons), there's nothing to say that a network can't bring a show back every now and then.
And so NBC has.
Willer & Gracer
We live in a television age in which everything old is new again. Turn to CBS, and you can watch MacGyver (a show originally hailing from the 1980s) or Hawaii Five-0 (the '60s). The CW's unveiling another Dynasty this year. And don't even get me started on Netflix, what with its revamped versions of Gilmore Girls and Full(er) House, even Voltron.
No wonder NBC figured there might still be an audience to watch the crass characters from Will & Grace quip and barb and preen. Never mind that the original finale gave both Will and Grace (Will's female, heterosexual roommate) spouses and children and seemed to shut the door on a reboot forever. That thing? NBC tells us in the first episode of the new show. Never happened.
And so, everything is pretty much the same as it always was: Grace living with Will; the freeloading Jack living next door; and Karen wandering in and out whenever there's a need for a boozy, clueless, conservative foil. Will and Grace aren't married. And they certainly don't have children.
"What a relief!" Karen tells them in a winking aside in the first 2017 episode. "Nobody wants to see you two raise kids!"
But while longtime fans of the show may appreciate the comforting sameness of it all, we at Plugged In have a different take.
Free Will, Free Grace … at a Steep Price
Look, I get it: Plugged In is part of Focus on the Family, a Christian organization that holds true to a biblical understanding of sexuality and marriage. No one would expect this site to endorse the LGBTQ underpinnings of Will & Grace.
But let me be honest: Even if every character on this show was heterosexual, it would be just as problematic. Yes, Will & Grace normalized same-sex attraction. But even more so, the show celebrates promiscuity. Happiness in this world, the show says, is about hooking up—regardless of sexual inclinations. And that's not just sinful: It's sad, too.
Oh, friendship has its place in Will & Grace, of course. And that's nice and all. But the fact that most of the show's characters are still hooking up, that Karen's still swigging martinis and downing meds, that all these characters are exactly the same, suggests that change—trying to improve ourselves every day—is undesirable. Or impossible. Or both. Happiness is found in doing the same things we've always done, day after day, year after year, reboot after reboot. It's Groundhog Day not as an existentialist limbo, but as heaven. Growth? Pish. Why bother? * And in *Will & Grace's world, why indeed? We don't see the toll that Jack's parade of male lovers has taken on him emotionally (even as he kinda-sorta prepares to settle down and marry his new steady, Estefan). Karen's liver is just fine, thanks—never mind her steady pace of three-martini episodes. NBC has created a world of no truth and no consequences … just some (admittedly dynamite) chemistry and a steady stream of naughty (but predictable) jokes.
For me, this NBC continuation offers very little real grace.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
+Jan. 31, 2019: "Family, Trip"
+Will & Grace: Sept. 28, 2017 "11 Years Later"