Will & Grace started its revival tonight with a politically charged episode laying the groundwork for the rest of the 16-episode season. The show opens up with some fan service, having Will and Grace playing Heads Up, the modern day version of the trivia game they played back in the day. The episode gives some backstory on the past, revealing Will and Grace are now both single and that everyone is friends. Not much has changed since we left this lovable foursome.
Will & Grace does its part to show what’s going on in gay culture, especially in Trump’s America where gay characters need to be a presence on a major network like NBC. Lawyer Will has been adamantly writing Congressmen, urging Grace to write her representatives. Rich Karen, obviously (although also, surprisingly) is a Trump supporter, and it’s revealed she’s friends with the first family. Using Karen’s character in this way easily sets the show up for a revival season full of jokes at the expense of the Trump family.
Grace quickly lays down the law at the office where Karen is still her assistant. No politics in the workroom. That quickly goes out the window, when Karen lands Grace a job redecorating the Oval Office. “He wants it to look like he’s there from time to time,” Karen says, coming in with a shady burn.
The episode then shifts to DC, where Will and Jack are going to talk to representatives (and maybe even sleep with one) while Grace goes to see about her decorating job. According to Will & Grace, at Trump’s desk there’s a Russian-English dictionary and a fidget spinner, but not much else. Sounds about right. Karen goes on many asides like she used to, about her past and affinity for the Trump family.
Will and Grace argue about their different beliefs and motivations for coming to DC with Will finding it reprehensible Grace would decorate for Trump, and Grace confronting Will about only trying to get a date with the Congressman. Their fight ends with decorative pillows being thrown about. That’s one hell of a gay way to fight.
A crisis happens while Jack and his secret service agent boyfriend are talking, and there’s a nice on-screen kiss between the two that would’ve been controversial back in the show’s prime, but seems less so now, thanks to shows like Will & Grace pioneering the way for gay characters in the mainstream media.
The episode ends with Grace having declined the offer to redecorate the Oval Office and cutting to the one change she’s made: an HRC Make America Gay Again hat sitting at the president’s desk. (A sticker for the HRC can also be seen in on a window in Will’s apartment. Hooray for branding!)
It’s refreshing and reassuring to see Will & Grace taking a strong political stance and being unafraid to confront these issues. The show does so with humor (like how Jack has a long time fling with a secret service agent) but it also does it in a way that does justice to the gay community, reinforcing their beliefs loudly and publicly. That said, the show is showing its age and desire to stay appealing to a young audience, and that transition isn’t perfectly smooth. Future episodes will only reveal if the show gets back into its stride.
This may not be Will & Grace at its best, but it’s the Will & Grace the country needs.