9 Things We Want from the Will & Grace Revival
by Ian Carlos Crawford
Revivals and reboots are all the rage now. Ghostbusters, Gilmore Girls, Mad Max, The X-Files — everything old is new again, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As a kid, the only show I can remember watching that had a gay main character (two gay main characters, actually) was Will & Grace. It was a show I could watch with my mom and we could both laugh at. Lots of young gay kids looked up to pop stars as their gay icons — but Karen Walker was my gay icon. I still have my DVDs of the show and, even now after having lived in NYC for 9 years, I still painfully relate to the show. I may not be a wealthy lawyer, but I can still relate to Will’s not-so-great dating life and everyday NYC struggles. Hell, in an episode they even go to the Duplex — a bar I’ve frequented. During the nightmare election (which we won’t speak of), they even released a pretty hysterical ad for Hillary Clinton — which led to NBC decided to revive the show.
Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden even said that the show “probably did more to educate the American public” on LGBT issues “than almost anything anybody has ever done so far.” And I’d agree with that. Will & Grace taught me that I didn’t need to live in fear of who I was and that if I came out, I would still have people who loved me.
Shows featuring gay characters are still, in 2017, far and few between — so it’ll be really great to see Will, Grace, Jack, and Karen back on our small screens. And because who doesn’t love a good wish list, here are the 9 things I want to see from my favorite queens in this revival:
- Diversity: One thing the show wasn’t so good at was diversity (but not many shows that premiered in 1998 were). It’s something the show should update for 2017. Even their friends were all white — the only non-white reoccurring character was Karen’s maid Rosario (played hilariously by Shelley Morrison, who unfortunately will not be returning for the revival). These characters live in New York City, so let’s make sure we get a more diverse cast of character than we saw on Girls.
- Guest stars: This show had freakin’ Cher, JLO, Janet Jackson, and Britney Spears in guest starring roles — so let’s see equally as absurdly famous guest stars in the revival. Lady Gaga and Jack having a dance-off to ‘Bad Romance’ or Hillary Clinton as herself grabbing drinks with Grace and becoming Karen’s new rival (not unlike Candice Bergen). Laverne Cox, Abbi & Ilana from Broad City, Aydian Dowling, Jesse Tyler Ferguson — there are a ton of queer and queer friendly celebrities that would be perfect guest stars on this show.
3. Forget the final season: I loved this show growing up and still love it but hoo boy is that final season terrible. Friday Night Lights and The Office have all done the “big shakeup” with the main characters for the final season like Will & Grace did — but Will and Grace weren’t actually a couple. It especially didn’t work here because it turned their relationship into some weirdly heteronormative relationship and that’s the opposite of what made the show so great. I won’t lie, I definitely ugly cried watching the finale when they all were reunited at the bar together but it was sappy and lame and felt like everything the show wasn’t about. In my ideal world, the first episode of the revival would open with Karen holding a martini saying, “I had the weirdest dream” and mention the final season and that be that.
4. Returning guests: We already know Harry Connick Jr. aka Leo (boooo, hisss) is coming back as is the best guy Will ever dated, Vince (played by the handsome Bobby Cannavale). But bring back Cher, bring back Blythe Danner, bring back Lesley Ann Warren, and especially bring back Parker Posey. This is a revival of a show that ran for 9 years, so they should lean into the nostalgia aspect and try and bring everyone back.
5. Absurd plots: Jack was a backup dancer for JLO. It doesn’t get much more absurd than that. Maybe in the revival Jack goes on a date with a guy who looks a lot like super-hot (albeit gay-baity) Nick Jonas (played by Nick Jonas himself) and they spend the entire episode trying to figure out if it’s him or not. Make Karen befriend an Ann Coulter-like character
6. The Stonewall Inn: I may be biased, as I frequent this bar and photograph there — but they really need an episode where they all go to this historic bar that is now a National Monument. It’s such a big part of NYC gay history, and it’s important to acknowledge that, especially with the monsters we have in office right now.
7. Gay dating: Aside from Stuart Townsend playing Karen’s ridiculously hot bisexual Pastry Chef, I can’t recall any time Will’s sex life was the main plot of an episode. Jack’s was mostly the brunt of jokes (and fair, because so is mine) but Will never seemed to have much success in dating or getting laid. He’d always meet guys and they’d last an episode. I’m sure this had a lot to do with it being the late 90s/early 00s and networks still not being okay with LGBTQ characters. So, hopefully that’s something that can change. I don’t mind a focus on Grace’s dating life, but let’s also give the gay characters equal time when it comes to dating.
8. The L, B, T, & Q: Will & Grace was a show that mostly focused on the G in LGBTQ. We only saw the gay community from cis white people’s lives. So, nearly 20 years later, let’s have lesbians, trans, and queer characters become the norm and not just the brunt of jokes.
9. Politics: A show like this is especially important now because of our current political climate. So, while the 10 minute mini episode that was an ad for Hillary Clinton was just that, an ad, lets have more stuff like that. It almost feels like we can’t even have Karen be someone who voted for Trump, even though it’d make sense with her character. Do you follow Debra Messing on Twitter? Because I want the show to be at least that political, if not more so.
About the author:
Ian Carlos Crawford grew up in southern New Jersey and, like most people from NJ, he graduated from Rutgers University. He then graduated from New School with an MFA in nonfiction writing. His writing has appeared on sites like Geeks Out, BuzzFeed, NewNowNext, and other random corners of the internet. He currently co-hosts a podcast about his favorite thing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, called Slayerfest 98 and is shopping around his fiction manuscript (you can view the book trailer here). Follow him on Twitter @ianxcarlos