'Will & Grace’ Returns To NBC
Debra Messing/Wikimedia commons

Hit sitcom starring Debra Messing comes back when we need laughter more than ever

Jack McFarland once asked miserably over a melting sundae, “How much do I have to eat before the pain goes away?” For those who have related to this feeling ever since “Will & Grace” went off the air in 2006, you can now put down your spoon (…or not).

NBC has announced that the popular sitcom that ran for eight seasons will be coming back in a reboot for the 2017-18 season.

And for those who are not into the trending wave of spin-offs (think “Fuller House” and “Girl Meets World”) fear not – the original cast is coming back intact. Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally will all be returning along with the show’s director, James Burrows, and writers, David Kohan and Max Mutchnick.

Messing, 48, who was born in Brooklyn, had a bat mitzvah and attended Brandeis university, plays a Jewish woman in the show — an element that supplies her character with much of its comedic sensibility. But perhaps more significanlty, Messing's Judaism is given more import than simply serving as a humorous vehicle. 

At one point towards the end of the hit series, Grace marries Jewish doctor Marvin “Leo” Markus (Harry Connick Jr.) and they have a traditional Jewish ceremony under a chuppah looking out onto a sea of yarmulkes. It may be worth mentioning that Mutchnkick and Kohan did not fall prey to the television trope of the time of intermarriage and inter-mixed dating as seen in many of its contemporary hits — breaking the mold of what was perhaps a structural strategy to offset the typical “quirky, neurotic” edge of so many funny, Jewish characters with a non-Jewish, more “grounded” counterpart. Another major breakthrough owed to the show was bringing gay characters to the forefront: both Jack and Will play gay men on the show in lead roles. Up until then, most presences of homosexuality had been marginalized in comedy television series.   

Now, what was once relegated to secondary characters have become prevalent forces on sitcoms: “Glee” and “Modern Family” have gay characters in starring roles and “Difficult People” has a cast bursting with Jewish and LGBTQ people. According to the New York Times, Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC entertainment said, “This groundbreaking series for everything from gay rights to social and political commentary — all disguised as a high-speed train of witty pop culture — is coming back where it belongs.”

Greenblatt could have been making a nod to the current political and social landscape, brought to a boiling point to rival Jack’s iconic furious storm outs, by the past year’s emotional election ride. In fact, two of the show’s cast members have found themselves in the cross hairs with president-elect Donald Trump, set to swear in at the inauguration today.

Messing, who has been staunchly opposed to Trump since the beginning of the election season, got into a twitter feud with fellow actress Susan Sarandon, who had been posting to social media that a Trump administration could be favorable to a Bernie Sanders revolution.

Messing responded that Sarandon may not feel that way if she was in one of the groups that Trump has notoriously discriminated against (ie- Muslims and Mexicans). 

Mullally, who also did not vote for Trump, does have one regret about a past experience with the future POTUS. In 2005, the 58-year-old actress performed with Trump at the Emmys, helping him to add another win to his list of self-congratulated victories. The way he spoke about it was eerily similar to his language surrounding the election, “... We really needed to win it, and not only did we win it, but I hear we killed them. It was a landslide,” said Trump according to USA Today.

In the sketch, called “Emmy Idol,” Trump was dressed as a farmer (perhaps a foreshadowing to his coup over the mid-west, blue collar, working class) and Mullally was in character as Karen from “Will & Grace.” In an episode of “The Late Show,” Mullally told Stephen Colbert that she “regrets helping Trump win anything” and refers to the photograph of the two of them as her “suicide note.”

All we can say is, while we don’t know what the 10-episode reprise will have in store, we don’t anticipate any good-hearted, pastiche duets between Trump and Mullally.

Will & Grace

Will and Grace

Will & Grace returns

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