Well, my dear readers, the day is finally upon us! In just a few short hours, we’ll be back at 155 Riverside Drive eleven years after we thought we had said farewell for good. I’m excited, I’m impatient, I’m pretty sure I’m going to start crying the second I hear the theme song because I still can’t believe this is actually happening. Despite the initial announcement that it was happening and the cast updates and the renewal for a second season the day after the first table read and the promos that actually show new material, it still feels like someone’s going to swoop in at the last minute to say, “Just kidding!” I don’t think it’s going to hit me until I sit down at 9pm tonight and we finally, after all these months, get a new episode of a sitcom classic. Will & Grace has been such a huge part of my life on so many levels since I was ten years old, and tonight is going to be A LOT (I know I am in no way the only one who’s been affected by this show, so I’m willing to bet tonight will be a lot for the majority of viewers tuning in). But as we were treated to tidbits of insight about the upcoming season—where our main characters are in 2017, which guest stars are lined up so far to do their thing—one question remains…
What is the revival actually going to be?
I am so excited to find out what Will & Grace is in 2017, because I know it’s bound to be different this time around. After eleven years off the air, it would be ridiculous to expect everything to be just the way it was left in 2006. But of course you want to keep the essentials that made the show work so well the first time, those aspects of the show that fans are nostalgic for. So how do you straddle the line between maintaining the classic elements and putting on a fresh face? We’ll soon find out. In the meantime, though, here’s a list of the things I’m hoping make it into the new season. Honestly, as long as it’s funny, I’m all in, and we all know it’s going to be funny. As I look back on what made the series so great to me in its initial run, though, there are definitely things that stand out, things that should be repeated, and there are instances in which the original series was passing a torch that the revival should grab. I’m not saying these things are definitely going to happen (except in the instances where someone said it was going to happen). But maybe if I put them out into the universe — over a month after they started filming, but meh, semantics — they will come true.
Place your bets now; we’ll compare notes as the season goes on.
A tribute to Debbie Reynolds.
This is going at the top of the list, because it needs to happen. Debra Messing has said that the show is going to honor Debbie Reynolds in the revival, and honestly, there’s no way the show could go on without that. Bobbi was one of those characters that was so larger-than-life, so dynamic, so scene-stealing that it felt like she was in the show more often than she actually was (I IMDb’d it once and was legitimately shocked that she was only in nine episodes—twelve if you break the hour-long ones up into two parts—because she always felt like SUCH a prominent character to me and therefore part of me thought she was constantly on the show.). Not to mention, she had a connection to each of our four leads, from her quick bond with Karen in “The Unsinkable Mommy Adler” and Jack’s kinship with her via acting, to the mother-daughter relationship with Grace and the family by proxy connection to Will. Everyone is affected by the loss; it’s only natural to address Bobbi’s impact, honoring a legend in the process.
It’s going to be brutal; I still can’t get through “The Unsinkable Mommy Adler” without wanting to cry during the “Embrace who you are” speech, and Will & Grace was my gateway to Debbie Reynolds and all of her insane talent. But I think that, when the moment comes, it will be cathartic, it will be fitting, and above all, it will be beautiful.
Storylines for the out-of-norm pairs.
Are more amazing plots to come? From the promos that have been popping up in anticipation of the premiere, it looks like Grace and Karen are on a train (or a bus? Something that moves…) together for some reason, so all signs are at least pointing in the general direction of yes. There are so many different combinations that work so well in their own ways. Let’s see a little more of that.
Maybe throw in a musical moment or two?
Will & Grace had SUCH a brilliant way with music the first time around. Can we just look at some of these moments? We’ve got the dancing on lock with Jack doing the routine to *NSYNC’s “Pop” after pushing his kid off the dance floor and teaching Grace the “Oops!…I Did It Again” dance. There’s Will singing “Love Will Keep Us Together” to reassure Grace that he’s not going anywhere. That time Future Jack and Karen sang “Unforgettable” to each other (I don’t care that the finale’s not in play anymore, that part makes me want to cry just thinking about it. It was flawless and beautiful, fight me on that). And of course, the moment that changed the way you sing along to “Midnight Train to Georgia” (WOO-WOOOOOOO):
The show always had a handle on music placement that was admirable. Third Eye Blind’s “How’s It Going to Be” at the end of “Secrets and Lays.” The Eurythmics’ “17 Again” at the end of “Bed, Bath, and Beyond.” Making Cheryl Lynn’s “Got to Be Real” the song Will plays every morning as he gets ready for the day in “Head Case.” I’m just saying, the music choices were great enough to warrant a show soundtrack release…so let’s keep up the track record, okay?
Killer guest stars.
Dear ’90s TV Revival gods, if I’m going to ask for guest stars, I might as well go all the way. A diva-loving girl can dream. Although…once you’ve made her God, I don’t know where else there is to go, but I’m sure you could think of something, and wouldn’t you love to test the bounds of your creativity?
But also an episode that’s just the main cast.
Some of my all-time favorite episodes are the ones where it’s just our Fab Four (plus Rosario). Don’t get me wrong, I loved the guest stars and the clever way they’d include the big names, and I love the fact that so many people wanted to play during those eight seasons. But there is something so magical and special about episodes like “Bed, Bath, and Beyond” and “A Buncha White Chicks Sittin’ Around Talkin’.” Because there were no outside players, these characters could go deeper with each other than they would with people they were just introduced to. It allowed for stunning character development, and allowed us to learn new things about characters we’ve known for years, characters we’ve spent every Thursday night with. And as a result, we got some of the greatest episodes of the series (at least in my humble opinion). So yeah, let’s get all of these amazing actors on board to become part of the Will & Grace universe; I’m genuinely excited to see who comes to play this time around. But I would like to request half an hour set aside just for Will, Grace, Jack, and Karen.
More cast videos and photos from the set.
This really has nothing to do with the production of the show itself, but I still need this to happen on the regular, because it’s delightful as hell. The brilliant thing about Will & Grace coming back now is that we’re deep in the age of social media, and this cast does not disappoint in sharing behind the scenes moments. Sean Hayes is giving set tours on Facebook Live. Debra Messing shares photos with the guest cast. And Megan Mullally’s Instagram account alone is pure gold; have you seen the videos she’s been posting?
(I really need to know everything about this monkey, you guys.)
I wish there had been a way to get this kind of constant insider look when I was a teenager in the early ‘00s impatiently waiting for Thursday night to come around again. And now that I have it in anticipation of the revival, I’m going to need this to keep happening forever and ever, please and thank you.
A way around the finale that doesn’t feel like a copout.
TECHNICALLY they could have gotten away with keeping the series finale intact, although it might have been a stretch; while it was implied that Will and Grace hadn’t spoken in almost twenty years, it was never explicitly stated, so if they wanted a loophole while keeping continuity at 100%, they could have probably said that Will and Grace ran into each other unexpectedly for another bout of friendship. So yeah, it would have been a stretch, one that probably wouldn’t work considering we’re getting at least two seasons out of this, but at least the series finale didn’t paint the show into a corner the way other sitcoms have for their revivals…I’m looking at you, Roseanne (Cards on the table, Roseanne is my childhood and I will absolutely watch the revival, but I’m also in the minority that loved the series finale, so I have a lot of weird feelings about the subject that might never go away). Alas, it was announced that the series finale would be scrapped, and it’s definitely for the better. But of course, one of the biggest questions in my mind—even before they announced that the series finale doesn’t exist in Revival Land—was perhaps the most obvious one: how will they introduce this new season?
I get not wanting to feature the kids Will and Grace had at the end of the series; it would completely change the tone of the show, which I’m assuming is why they abandoned the baby storyline in season five and replaced it with a doctor on a horse. Here’s the thing, though: Grace spent the better portion of the final season pregnant, so I’m curious to see just how much they’re erasing. I have faith that they’ll find a way around this that won’t destroy my enthusiasm for the revival (although, let’s be real, literally nothing can destroy my enthusiasm for the revival). I mean, they got themselves out of the jam they wrote themselves into with the Will/Grace/baby deal by giving us the searing brilliance that is “The Kid Stays Out of the Picture.” If they can do that, they can do anything.
The same heart the original series had.
Then the musical promo they used for the Upfronts was released.
This. This was the thing that made me realize it was going to be okay as soon as Eric McCormack took the sheets off the set furniture. This was the thing that proved to me that it was going to work. The “Vote Honey” clip that started this whole revival business was wonderful and unexpected, but I didn’t go into it expecting it to be the jumping off point for a renaissance; I was just happy to have an extra ten minutes of my absolute favorite show that, over ten years after its end, I never counted on having. And “Vote Honey” was completely unconnected to the events of the show because according to the finale, Will and Grace wouldn’t speak again for another ten years. There was never that feeling of “How are they going to pull this off?” when watching the sketch because it was supposed to be a one-off thing. Until it wasn’t a one-off thing anymore. Until it became the thing that made enough people want Will & Grace back. Until we got ten new episodes, and then twelve, and then sixteen, and then another thirteen-episode season after this one. Until the “How are they going to pull this off?” feeling became too prominent to ignore. Thankfully, the Upfront musical dispelled those worries. It felt like the Will & Grace I know and love. All of the instances of the cast saying it was like they never left? I get it, I can see it, and I know it’s real. That clip was the reassurance I needed that as much as the times have changed in the last eleven years — and the show will surely change with them — the important things will remain the same.
I relied on Will & Grace a lot when it was first on the air, to get me through the rough times in my life. When it felt like the walls were crashing down, that show was the one thing guaranteed to make me laugh, and it helped so much to know that it was there to give me a reprieve whenever I needed it. And if I’m being honest, it still serves as that outlet, and it’s part of the reason my DVDs have been in heavy rotation ever since the finale aired. Looking at the state of the world now, we absolutely need to be alert, and we absolutely need to resist. But we also absolutely need a reprieve once in a while. We need a moment to laugh when it feels like the walls are crashing down. It seems like Will & Grace is returning at exactly the right time.
And to that, I say: bring it on, honey. I’m ready.
Featured image source: NBC