Someone had to take a step before someone else could slay, honey. Isn’t that a saying?
Megan Mullally was a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show this week and credited the host for paving the way for Will & Grace by coming out on her own sitcom in the ’90s.
“Your show really laid the groundwork for Will & Grace,” Mullally told DeGeneres. “I don’t know if there would’ve been a Will & Grace had you not done that show and come out, so thank you for that. Thank you for my career.”
In 1997, during the fourth season of her self-titled sitcom, Ellen, both DeGeneres and her character famously came out as a lesbian with “The Puppy Episode.”
Will & Grace paid homage to that episode’s iconic airport coming out scene in this week’s season finale. Mullally’s character, Karen Walker, comes out as straight to love interest Nikki, played by Samira Wiley.
“When I came out, I had death threats and there was a bomb threat, but they misjudged the time of the taping,” DeGeneres told Adweek, which honored her last year with its Media Visionary Award. “We had already finished, and thank God.”
“The Puppy Episode” earned record ratings, as well as an Emmy and a Peabody Award, but ABC ultimately cancelled Ellen after the following season.
“I knew there would be people that didn’t like it, but I didn’t realize my show would be cancelled,” she said. “It’s definitely something I know helped a lot of people, and I was hoping it would help more people.”
Will & Grace, which ran on NBC for eight seasons from 1998 to 2006, returned in 2017 with all four original leads—Mullally, Sean Hayes, Eric McCormack, and Debra Messing—to became the network’s top-rated comedy.
The revival’s second season concluded April 4, and a third season has already been confirmed for this fall.
Watch Mullally thank DeGeneres below.