Following the anticipated premiere of last night’s episode, Antoine, our publisher of theBUZZ magazine, and I, have spent the morning talking about Will & Grace, the return of the iconic sitcom, and our thoughts on the first episode of the new season. Here is what we had to say.

Antoine: I don’t need to state (but of course I will lol), that never ever in the history of television has there been a show that resonated more with the LGBTQ community, no matter what part of the community you most associate with, than Will & Grace. It didn’t only stop there, straight people loved it, household moms loved it, even my own mother was obsessed with it. YES, I LOVE Will & Grace, I am a huge fan, I am a number one fan, and I have seen each episode about 20 or 30 times. You can go ahead and hate me now lol. I don’t usually get this invested in a TV show (except for perhaps also The Golden Girls and The Big Bang Theory). I remember back in the late nineties and for the run of the show, my life and some of my closest friends’ lives included a lot of Will & Grace viewing parties, or hours next day after each episode spent chatting about what happened last night. How many times have I called my best friend over the years during the commercial breaks to say, “CAN you BELIEVE what Karen just said?”. When I heard they are coming back I called our Editor-in-Chief of theBUZZ and said “let’s get a Will & Grace tribute edition happening please please please!” (Read A Tribute to Will & Grace HERE). To tell you the truth I was so incredibly excited about this revival of the show to the point it was turning comical. I was on a Will & Grace reruns binge for the last month or so, to get myself ready for their return. It was like I’m having a reunion with friends whom I have known closely, but haven’t seen in a long time.

Me: Will & Grace was a sitcom that literally changed my life. Along with Ellen, Will and Grace and Jack and Karen were the only people talking about homosexuality and the LGBTQ+ “lifestyle” on mainstream television. As a young teenager going to catholic school, I had never seen anything like it. After Ellen was cancelled (because she came out as a lesbian, let’s face facts), the climate for queer folk was as taboo as ever. But then Will & Grace debuted with their unconventional living situations, dating fiascos and hilariously flamboyant friends, Jack and Karen. They not only challenged the stigma against LGBTQ+ people on TV, they toppled it, dominating Thursday night prime time for 8 seasons and 194 episodes. Their return couldn’t come at a better time as prejudice against queer folk in America is – yet again – at an all time high.

So, what did you think about last night’s premier?

Antoine: Hmmmmmm, well, everything I wanted to feel watching the show last night, I did. I thought it was genius how they shaved about three episodes from the end of the final season, and you know what? It was no issue to a devoted fan like myself.  I thought it was sharp, it was political, it was contemporary, and yes it was what we needed right now. And when Will says to Grace later in the show that the reason she doesn’t want to go to a hotel is because she’s “too cheap”, if felt familiar as if no years have passed by at all.

Me: The premiere was HILARIOUS! Fans, like you and me, have been anticipating it for months. Networks have been hyping it up with endless promotion so I am elated to say that I found the season opener of Will & Grace, 11 years later, to be everything we all expected and more! All four characters literally had me laughing out loud and I found myself wanting more as soon as it ended. And they all look incredible! As if they haven’t aged since the series finale in 2006. And all of their one-liners were side-splitting! The writers really captured the essence of this foursome in a way that relates to both the social and political climate of today while staying true to the whacky characters of yesterday. I already can’t wait for next week’s episode!

Your favourite joke of the night?

Antoine: Much criticism has been made of how the final season ended up being a little too mushy, serious, and not as funny as the rest of the series. So, I loved Jack’s self-deprecating joke, when he and Karen were talking about how it would have been had W & G actually raised kids, “what’s funny about that?”, and Karen makes a zero sign. I thought that was funny.

Me: This is a hard one. Each joke came effortlessly from the actors, as if the 11 years that went by were nothing but a dream. Which is ironic because that’s exactly the case: the finale  (11 years ago) proves to be a dream as the foursome of today recollect on what transpired in that finale episode. “Got it?!”

My favourite joke is also in the opening scene, when Will and Grace are playing “Heads Up” (a nod to Ellen?) and Will has to give Grace clues that allude to a celebrity name, without saying the actual name. “Ooh! Ooh!,” Will starts, thinking of what he will say to make Grace guess the correct name.
“We want to love her – but she makes it impossible!”
“Caitlyn Jenner!” Grace replies, and the entire viewing party I attended erupted in laughter.

We were all rooting for you, Miss Caitlyn….
(Honourable mention goes to the Cheetoh colour-matching scene in the Oval Office).

The funniest political zinger

Me: Grace gets a gig decorating the Oval Office via Karen “Anastasia Beaverhausen” Walker. She’s friends with Melania, of course. As the scene in the Oval Office opens, we hear Grace go on about the honour and privilege she feels to be in the room, standing at the desk where great political minds shaped the course of history. Then she notices what 45 has contributed to this legacy, “A Russian-English Dictionary and a Fidget Spinner.”

But the funniest political zinger for me was an action, not a quote. While Grace is going on, Karen sits on the yellow couch, her legs up and perched by her side, her head looking down and her face gazing into her phone à la Kellyann Conway! I howled. So subtle, so clever, so Karen!

Antoine: “That’s where Joe Biden and Barack Obama used to hold hands and talk about their dreams” in The Rose Garden tied with “Rich. Hostage. Melania” while playing Heads Up, tied with, yes I agree with you Joey, the “Russian-English Dictionary” in the Oval Office.

Where do you think the show will go from here?

Antoine: It’s just going to get better. With the political climate that we are in they will have so much sharp and current commentaries to draw from. I hope they concentrate on having fun this time and not get bogged down with too much divorces and children and death. Otherwise I don’t want to predict too much, because I want to be surprised. Eric, Debra, Megan and Sean seem to be at the top of their game, so I’m sure that we will be treated to some pretty funny comedic moments.

Me: I really hope to see a strong and bold resistance within the comedy of this new chapter in the Will & Grace saga. I feel it would truly reign as an even more iconic series should it continue to be a mouthpiece for the LGBTQ+ community, but it would suit them well to diversify the supporting characters this time around, including love interests. Our community is vibrant and full of all nationalities and cultures, as is New York City, where the gang lives. Without a doubt, Will & Grace came back with a bang! The way the first episode was received was even better than I expected so I truly believe that if they keep these characters classic but fresh, Will, Grace, Jack and Karen could very well be the loud and proud voice for this generation’s LGBTQ+ youth, as it was for mine.

Antoine: Last confession. I PVRd the show last night and watched it already three times since lol.


*Photos courtesy of NBC and Andrew Eccles

About the Author

Joey Viola is the Co-Founder of MoJo Toronto and an LGBTQ community leader who utilizes his passion and flair for the art of writing by bringing a fresh perspective in reviewing entertainment and advocating for equality, tolerance, and social/political justice.