The reboot of Will and Grace officially kicked off this week when the original cast returned for a table read, and series stars Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes, and Megan Mullally shared their excitement with television critics at the summer press tour at the Beverly Hilton on Thursday afternoon.
Openly gay NBC President Robert Greenblatt kicked off the panel by announcing that not only would the new season receive four extra episodes (bringing the total to 16), but that the show has already been renewed for an additional season.
Co-creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan joined the cast to answer questions from critics. Here’s what we learned:
1. Will and Grace will be reuniting after a period apart.
“They haven’t been living together for the entire time that we haven’t seen them,” Mutchnik said, with Kohan adding that things will be a little different for them both: “Circumstances bring them together again. So they’ve lived their lives, and as times change, as you get older, you shift the prism on your perspective.”
2. Will, Grace, Jack, and Karen will spend a lot of time together.
“I think what you’re going to see the most of will be the four of them,” Max said. “Our job with starting the show out and getting it re-established is going to be about resetting the rules, because we did have this finale, and we talked about things that are not going to be on the show.”
3. There will be conflict.
Especially because Karen voted for Donald Trump. “The conflict between the characters is if one person’s a Trump supporter and one person isn’t,” Kohan said. “There’s conflict if they’re talking about it, as opposed to a bunch of like-minded people hammering away at the same person. There’s not a story there.” Mutchnik added: “It really made it creatively very interesting to revisit this thing and to have it dawn on us, ’Oh, wow, we can really speak to the world through these voices and not have to change this architecture here.'”
4. The cast will grow to be more inclusive.
“When we started, it was revolutionary to have two gay characters,” Messing said. “So what we were able to address at the time was LGB. We stopped at B, and my hope is that now we can finish the alphabet. And with gender identity, and there are so many things that are being discussed in our culture now.”
Kohan notes guest stars is where the show will become more diverse. “They will be involved in situations that will…mean a more diverse cast.”
5. LGBT issues will still be a focus.
“This show is always about inclusion,” Mutchnick said. “That’s what we started with and that’s the type of people they are. That’s the type of characters that they are, so I think when we come back, we will get to it again. But it’s just going to be about trying to make the funniest shows that we can with these characters passing through the life that you all know that is taking place out there right now.”
6. But maybe even more progressive than before.
“We were actually just talking about it with the whole group backstage, sitting in that same room and thinking that now the message is completely the opposite,” McCormack says of the differences between the first season and 2017. “Now the message is we are us, and we represent a lot of different people, gay and straight, in this country, and we’re not apologizing or underselling what the show is. And when I think that, yes, that first season, we were careful. We made sure everybody was happy. By the second season, we were all making out with anybody all the time. God, I got married to Taye Diggs, I think in the ’60s, so we did our part a long time ago, and I feel like we can show up with our heads held high and be the show that we came to be.”
7. “First and foremost,” it will be funny.
“We’ve always said that the good effects that we had were fantastic gravy, that we set out to be funny,” McCormack said. “We set out to be a sitcom that brought as many people in as possible, and I think the effect that we actually brought in people from both colored states, from a wide range. But I think that still, first and foremost, [the job is] to be funny. Will that include political and cultural things? Of course it will…It’s about the politics of friendship and how you navigate that. And it can be quite hysterical how we’re all navigating it.”
8. Most importantly, the cast still loves one another and working together.
“We’ve all become brothers and sisters and family,” Hayes said. “Anything as far as moving forward with the show, it’s so easy. Fits like a glove. It’s just a blast. It’s a gift of a lifetime to get together and do this again.”
Will & Grace returns Thursday, September 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. Check out the new promo below: