The Return Of ‘Will & Grace’ Is Exactly The Type Of Woke Sitcom We Need In Trump’s America

They’re baaaack! Yep, the popular 90’s sitcom ‘Will & Grace’ has returned to TV screens and it literally could not have happened at a more appropriate moment in time. We loathe using the term “Trump’s America” because he neither owns the country, knows how to run it, or is even popular with the majority of people (he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton and we all know he hates that!). But right now across America, and indeed the world, there is a strong uprising against his brand of populism and bigotry that is now sadly being spread through various pieces of legislation for issues such as immigration, women’s reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights to name but a few.

But while there is plenty of resistance against the Trump administration on the political and social activism fronts, there is also another area where we are seeing some powerful messages about equality, inclusion and the diversity that truly makes America great – entertainment. Which brings us to ‘Will & Grace’.

When it first appeared on TV screens in 1998, it was already a boundary-pushing show, featuring 2 openly gay characters. They were revolutionary before being in the #resistance was popular. This time around, the show is not holding back when it comes to advocating for LGBTQ issues and both cast and crew have spoken about the cultural change over the past few decades which allowed this to happen.

Co-creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick told The Daily Beast in an interview that ‘Will & Grace’ is a much more “woke” show in 2017.

“There are jokes that we would have made 12 years ago that we won’t make today. And there are things that we can say today that we couldn’t back then. That’s happening and we’ve put a lot of it down on paper already. It’s come out of us very naturally and it doesn’t really feel like we’re pressed or pushed in the writing, because I think we’re staying very true to ourselves and what the show is. The characters grew at the same rate,” they said.

Will, played by Eric McCormack, said the current climate has allowed for a lot more openness in terms of addressing both his and Jack’s (played by Sean Hayes) sexuality, calling it “a whole new world”. Indeed it is, especially in America where same-sex marriage officially became the law of the land in 2015, something which 90’s ‘Will & Grace’ may have never thought possible.

Grace, played by Debra Messing also spoke about the show’s ability to address sexuality in a much more progressive way at a panel at the Tribeca TV Festival, as reported by Vulture.

“Back then, LGB, we stopped at B. And now 11 years later, the conversation has expanded. There’s T, A, I, and gender fluidity and there are all these things that are now finally being celebrated in our culture. The thing we all committed to one another was that we’re going to be the show that we always were. We’re going to talk about what’s happening now,” she said.

Megan Mullally, who plays Karen, added how the show was ahead of its time and paved the way for the type of inclusion we see today in mainstream, prime-time television (think ‘Modern Family’, for example).

“When ‘Will & Grace’ was on the air, at least for the first several seasons, there were no other shows that had gay characters. We were standing alone in that regard. Now, if you don’t have at least four gay characters, people are like, What’s this piece of shit?” she said.

The 4 lead actors have certainly not been shy about their political leanings and disdain for Donald Trump. In fact, although a comeback idea was already being talked about, it was the overwhelmingly positive reaction to a 9 minute ‘Will & Grace’ video made during the presidential election, urging people to vote for Hillary Clinton, that solidified the idea, according to co-creators David and Max.

“I think the reaction to the online video that we made told us everything, because that was just seeing them back together as friends,” said Max.

As for the two female leads, Debra told the audience at the Tribeca panel that she had one major request for her character’s return: “The only thing that I asked for was that Grace be a feminist” she said. We have no doubt that 2017 Grace would’ve attended the historic Women’s March and supported Planned Parenthood, but that’s just our own feminist fantasy!

However, Karen is a different story. Much like her Trump-supporting role in the 9 minute political video, Megan did not want to change anything about her character, and is still “team Trump”.

“She’s down at Mar-a-Lago at lot with Donnie and Melania,” she said. We’re gonna go out on a limb and speculate that 2017 Karen would’ve easily been one of the majority white women who voted for Trump in the election.

Longtime fans of ‘Will & Grace’ will already know what a ground-breaking show it was from the beginning, not just politically, but the way it chose to shun typical Hollywood standards when it came to creating lead characters. As Debra points out to The Daily Beast, part of the appeal when it first appeared was the fact that it was different, having a gay man and a straight woman as the driving forces of the ongoing story.

“In television, historically when there’s a man and a woman who are the titular leads, the whole question is when will it happen? Will they and when will they. From day one, you knew it was never going to happen. So it was sort of like, OK, all bets are off. All rules about storytelling are off. I think that made people sit back and exhale, but also lean in and think, ‘Wait a minute. What is it going to be then?’ That might have been part of the original allure,” she said.

It’s common knowledge that during times of great political upheaval or division, as we are experiencing right now, art and entertainment often becomes the vehicles through which to send and share powerful messages about how we are feeling. The return of ‘Will & Grace’ is certainly doing that for many of us. You can catch all 13 episodes of Season 10 on NBC now.


 

 

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