"Will & Grace" is back and fans can rest assured: It's still funny AF.
NBC released three episodes online ahead of the season premiere on Thursday, and critics are loving what they're seeing as Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes will reprise the sitcom roles that made them famous, 11 years after the "season finale" aired in 2006.
"Two things you should definitely know, even if you don't read another paragraph of this review: 1. The reboot, at least based on the two episodes I've seen so far, is 100-percent the W&G that I — and likely you — loved. Stiletto-sharp with marshmallow insides. 2. I laughed my f—ing ass off. Out loud, even!," TVLine's Charlie Mason said.
Perhaps most importantly, the cast and creators haven't missed a beat in what made the show special. I didn't expect a 47-year-old Sean Hayes to do as much physical comedy as he did in his 30s, but he doesn't miss a beat looking as fit and limber as ever. Mullally slips into Karen's sauced up sexuality like she never took it off, and what can be said about Debra Messing and Eric McCormack? Clearly these characters are as cherished and beloved by the people who portrayed them as they were for a generation of fans. They slid right back into them with such ease, like they'd never forgotten any of their ticks and foibles, and it makes it just as easy for fans to slip back into spending our Thursday evenings with them.
It's in the second episode that acknowledging the passing of time begins in earnest and really benefits the show. After an embarrassing experience at a club, Will and Jack begin dating much younger men and are forced to confront generational changes in the gay community — shifts that Will & Grace helped facilitate. It's the rare moment in which Will & Grace feels like it's engaging in a conversation with the gay audience and not necessarily trying to make straight viewers feels feel more comfortable.
So how political is it? Well, let's just say that halfway into the premiere, Grace and Karen are in Trump's Oval Office while Jack and Will are being hit on by a gay secret serviceman on the White House lawn.
As you'd expect, the political commentary is on point, savage and funny as hell. Whether a joke is aimed at President Trump or a generation of gays who don't know Stonewall from Stonehenge, W&G hits the target with impressive consistency. And, at the end of the day, it reminds us that, beneath the barbs and bon mots, the show has a heart that's as strong as it is soft.
To say the first three episodes of the new season are equally clever would be a lie; they only get better from the track-laying opener, as the cast proves itself to be as energetic, opinionated, and hysterical as ever. Up to their old tricks, Will and Grace finish each other's sentences and help each other through crises. Jack and Karen selfishly scheme for attention, fame, and sex. The foursome lives their lives, with rapid-fire callbacks, zingers galore, and timely breaks for a few heart-to-hearts. "Will & Grace" is nothing like other, lazy revivals. It's here on its own terms and quickly proves there's nothing to fear from these very funny folks.
When the series premiered in 1998, I had kissed enough boys to know I was certainly gay, however, I wasn't prepared to come out to anyone. So when the show came on and either Jack or Will shrieked in excitement, I'd lower the volume and hope that no one nearby would barge in my bedroom and ask, 'Why are you watching Will & Grace?'
I was ashamed of watching the show, and while I dipped my toes into several minutes of it each time it aired on NBC, I didn't consider myself a fan, and still have never watched more than four episodes collectively. "Will & Grace? I've heard it's hilarious. But nah, it's not for me," I'd say.
Fast forward 19 years since the comedy's series premiere, 11 since the series' 2006 finale, and I wish I had a friend like Jack. I'm out. I'm proud. And though I'm generally quiet and carry a soft demeanor, I'd be the first to break into dance if Britney's "Slave 4 U" played.
The performances are just as amazing as they were. Eric McCormack (Will) and Debra Messing (Grace) are the same basically-married best friend pair we know and love. Megan Mullally (Karen) can still play ditzy very well, making the most cringeworthy moments funny. However, Sean Hayes (Jack) is the performance that cannot be beat. There were numerous times in watching the first three episodes that I laughed out loud at his antics. He could just look at the camera a certain way and I would be in stitches.
While everyone brings their A-game, Sean Hayes has a remarkable return in the first three episodes. His physical comedy in episode 2 is award-worthy. (Unfortunately, the comedy categories in award shows now default to drama.) Megan Mullally's Karen is as crass and hysterical as we left her. And Will and Grace's fierce arguments and sentimental makeups will still make your heart ache a little bit.