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The Will & Grace revival ends up in much better shape than it started

Illustration for article titled The Will & Grace revival ends up in much better shape than it started
Photo: Chris Haston (NBC)
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It’s a question I’ve asked many times this season: Why did Will & Grace come back? I mean, other than the fact that the networks were apparently out of ideas and looking to bring back old hits? A multi-cam sitcom, no less?


Obviously, at many points over these dozen-plus episodes, I had my doubts. Especially when the show appeared to be trying just way too hard (still can’t shake that horrid Christmas episode) or too self-congratulatory (pulling out a Cheeto to use as a color swatch to decorate Trump’s Oval Office in the premiere).

But there were a few times when the show seemed to right itself and remember what it was all about. Highlighting the long history of Will’s persnicketiness, or Grace’s epic self-involvement. Or in one of my favorite moments of the season, Jack reaching out to his gay grandson. Then I would think, “Yeah, it’s good that this show came back,” and could recognize that the show still had some needs to fill. Especially as it displayed the perils of being a single Manhattan fortysomething, which is markedly different from being a tortured adolescent on Riverdale (much as Jack—and I—love it).

Still, I wish the show wasn’t quite so full of itself, leaning too heavily on special guest stars, as it did in the past. Just like last week, in this episode I loved the Will and Grace stuff, while Karen and Malcolm left me cold. And it’s a shame, because she’s my favorite character. While I can’t deny the considerable chemistry between Megan Mullally and Alec Baldwin, the sex-miming was somehow simultaneously over the top and boring. I always like Smitty, but am glad to see Malcolm go.

On the other hand, I really hope Estefan sticks around awhile, because Brian Jordan Alvarez was frickin’ hilarious. This exchange: “Who are the two old people?” “That’s Will and Grace, you met them yesterday” made me laugh for five full minutes, and then randomly on the train this morning while thinking about it again. Just brilliant. While Drew, though sweet, didn’t really bring much to the table, Estefan and his accent and his rudeness to Grace made for an instantly captivating character. I actually hope he and Jack get married, much as I doubt that that will happen.

Martin and Marilyn, I am also totally on board with. I love Blythe Danner in all things (Gwyneth Paltrow is the luckiest daughter in the world) and she and Robert Klein were really sweet together. Like her telling his “gentile” joke! Adorable. Like Will and Grace themselves, their parents are showing that love and sex don’t end after you exit that coveted 18-34 demographic, much as most TV advertisers would lead you to believe.


That’s why, the episode’s most poignant moment—even with the awesome couples of Jack (loved him still acting surprised at the proposal) and Estefan and Martin and Marilyn—was Will and Grace realizing that everyone was reacting because they did not want to end up like them. Personally, I thought Will’s speech about his life with Grace was rather nice. People end up in marriages where they eventually can’t stand each other all the time, and by that point they’re not having sex anyway. Maybe this is more the Will and Grace side of me than the Martin and Marilyn side of me, but yeah, I would take that over a crappy, volatile relationship any day.

But I also like the two other couples embracing their romances, even after only a day or so. What this episode of Will & Grace shows—what the series has always shown—is that love comes in all forms, from the instant combustion of our now-engaged foursome to the platonic soulmates of our title characters. The end of this season reminds me of the end of season one, when Will and Grace realize how entwined they are at Jack’s marriage to Rosario, and Grace moves out. Will the changes Will alluded to this episode be similar? Possibly, and I am absolutely going to tune in to find out. This is so far from the sentiment I would have had in January, I can hardly believe it myself.


Season finale grade: B+

Season grade: B

Stray observations

  • Would I hate Grace’s outfit as much as Karen would?: Yes. The purple color was pretty on her but what was with that capelet overlay? Just, why? Cute boots, though.
  • Antidote episode: Again, not really needed, but you could check out that season-one finale, “Object Of My Rejection,” for comparison purposes.
  • I also despise the idea of Meryl Streep on Big Little Lies! Can I be in the club?
  • Blythe Danner starred in my all-time favorite Columbo episode, “Etude In Black,” playing John Cassavetes’ wife while she was pregnant with Gwyneth.
  • Those beagles were frickin’ adorable (although they quickly disappeared). Marilyn is the best!
  • This might be the perfect Will & Grace line: “It was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen you eat lobster.”
  • Thanks for reading everybody! I believe the new Will & Grace has been renewed for at least two more seasons, so we’ll hopefully see you back here in this space eventually.

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.