Of the many things being sequeled, prequeled, revived, rebooted and everything in between, the most inviting entry into this arena has to be Will & Grace reboot. Admittedly, I haven't always been the biggest Will & Grace fan, so I had some questions about the new show. What could possibly be changed to make Will & Grace fresh and accessible? Would I really want to sit through the staged comedy, the canned joke setups and the cheesy heartfelt moments again? Why were we being subjected to a reboot of this show when the original series was still enjoying a second life in reruns?
As it happens, Will & Grace still has a lot of life in it and plenty left to say about our contemporary culture. Bringing back the original cast — Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes — means bringing back a set of thoroughly talented and capable performers who know how to make us laugh and sigh wistfully in equal measure, hitting the comedic and dramatic beats that continue to keep us hooked on this show. In retconning the seemingly final 2006 ending, Will & Grace has found a way to breathe new life into these characters and, in bringing them into the very different world of 2017, has found ways to make us fall in love with this show all over again.
If you, like me, were extremely hesitant to give this reboot a chance, keep reading and see if I can't convince you to give this show a shot.
There's something so thrilling about seeing the Will & Grace foursome back together. It's only been a handful of years since the show went off the air, but there's something about seeing these four characters (as well as the actors who play them) come back together — whether they're a little older and wiser is hilariously debatable — and revive their chemistry that crackled with inviting energy for so many seasons.
One of the great running themes of the reboot thus far has been how each of the core four is dealing with getting older. As the characters settle into their mid- to late 40s (Jack is a grandpa already!), Will & Grace tackles aging in some very thoughtful ways. We see them reckon with the funnier parts of growing up — like when Jack cakes on makeup and contours his face to appear youthful enough for a hot hookup — and embrace the lessons life has taught them along the way, as was the case when Grace and Leo discussed in his office why their relationship would never work despite the reasons why they used to believe it would.
It's not all sunshine and rainbows on Will & Grace — and that's a good thing. This half-hour comedy is always able to get in at least one good, solid moment where two of the core four characters are confronting each other about their evolving friendship dynamics. Most of the recent examples revolve around Will and Grace, who had to discuss whether their closeness was the reason Grace's marriage to Leo failed. While the ultimate answer was no, asking those honest questions about how their intense closeness could potentially interfere with their other relationships is an idea worth exploring.
Oh, yeah, Will & Grace is definitely trying to keep up with the zeitgeist and, for the most part, it works! Sure, it's a little odd to see Jack talk about upping his Grindr game with a new profile photo, but then there are other sly zingers, like when Grace pulled out a bag of Cheetos to match the president's skin tone to possible new drapes after being tasked to redecorate the Oval Office, that let you know this reboot won't be left in the dust.
As previously mentioned, Will & Grace isn't afraid to go after President Donald Trump. The entire pilot episode revolves around a trip to Washington D.C. and immediately reveals the show's politics. From guest star Kate Micucci playing a White House tour guide joking that visitor protocols don't matter anymore because nothing matters to Karen sitting like Kellyanne Conway infamously did on an Oval Office couch to Grace leaving a "Make America Gay Again" hat on the president's wingback chair, Will & Grace isn't hiding its distaste for our 45th president.
So far, we've had some really fun guest stars on this reboot. Familiar faces like Jane Lynch and Andrew Rannells popped up in the fourth episode of the season as camp counselors at a "pray the gay away" style camp that Jack and Will infiltrate to save Jack's grandson. Also, Pitch Perfect's Ben Platt appears in one of the first episodes as a love interest of Will's, but once their age gap really starts to show, Will spends his time educating Platt's character on LGBTQ history rather than hooking up. These fun, vibrant guest stars certainly add some brightness into the mix, and with the unique ways we've seen of writing them into the show, it will be interesting to see who else comes in and where.
If you thought Jack and Karen would be boring just because they're getting older, think again. These two frequently stole the spotlight on the Will & Grace of yesteryear, so it comes as no surprise that they're up to their old shenanigans in the reboot. With plenty of opportunities for physical comedy and wry jokes full of sexual innuendo, the Jack/Karen dynamic is super-strong these days.
As previously mentioned, the Will & Grace reboot did away with the very final series finale in 2006. Back then, Will and Grace broke up after Grace got together with Leo and Will settled down with Vince. They lost touch and didn't meet again until they were moving their children into their freshman dorms at college. In erasing that ending and finding a way to start anew (Grace moves back in with Will after divorcing Leo; Will and Vince are no more), the show opens itself up once again to a bevy of new story arcs. It's not just the themes and types of jokes that make this show fresh and new, but also the artful ways in which the story itself has been changed.
Seriously, this show is like a warm hug from friends that you just need after a long day. Sure, it can get a little cheesy at times, but in 2017, that can sometimes feel like a relief.
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