Will & Grace has always been an extremely progressive series since it first debuted on NBC in the '90s, but when it returns for its anticipated revival this fall, the sitcom won't shy away from giving voice to both sides of the current political divide.
As the short, election-themed video the stars launched on YouTube last fall revealed, Karen (Megan Mullally) voted for Donald Trump for president. And now, the revival will mine the political differences between Karen and the rest of her friends — Will (Eric McCormack), Grace (Debra Messing) and Jack (Sean Hayes) — for as much feel-good humor as one can get out of this bleakly real conflict.
"One of the hardest things we've all had to deal with is realizing that some of the people around us didn't vote for who we voted for and they might've been friends or they might still be friends, and how do we maintain that friendship?" McCormack told reporters at the Television Critics' Association on Thursday. "We know that's the case here as a result of that video we did in September. We know that Karen, of course, voted for her friend Donald. So that is going to lead the conversation. That is not inherently about the politics of today or even yesterday; it's about the politics of friendship and how you navigate that. And it can be quite hysterical, how you navigate that."
Co-creator David Kohan explained that if every character on the show was anti-Trump, it'd make for quite the boring season, while co-creator Max Mutchnick pointed out that this situation will allow the series to tackle the current political landscape from multiple angles.
"I think we're lucky that we have this built into the show. We have a Trump supporter that's inside this group and it's not just this one voice," Mutchnick said. "And really, it's what 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 [of the show]."
That inevitably means there'll be some clashes of ideas that'll be entertaining, but don't look for Will & Grace 2.0 to lean too heavily on political debate. Kohan and Mutchnick said they wanted to write characters, not concepts — real people who have opinions and sensibilities and reactions to things in the world — as opposed to an issue-based program. As Sean Hayes put it, Will & Grace is not a news show.
"To try to tackle those things head on, I don't think would do justice to the characters," Kohan said.
Will and Grace makes its grand return to television on Thursday, Sept. 28 at 9/8c on NBC.