Will & Grace is currently enjoying a revival thanks to NBC’s brilliant foresight. Somehow the Peacock network gods knew that, during the age of Trump, when Twitter was filled with Pepe trolls and white supremacists were controlling the sale of tiki torches, we’d need a couple of gay angels and their heterosexual side-chicks to help us sort through this Dumpster-fire called life.
With a new season of the show set to premiere, NBC and Hulu are offering fans the chance to catch up on all the things that made us fall in love with the show years ago. That means more Madonna-praying, Cher doll-idolizing, martini-drinking, queer-joking goodness to binge before the gang returns.
Here are 11 of the best Will & Grace episodes to help you prepare for that blessed hour when our favorite sexually fluid foursome returns.
“A New Lease on Life” (Season One, Episode Two)
The pilot episode of Will & Grace may have introduced us to the main characters but it did a pretty poor job of setting up the series. Grace (Debra Messing) was engaged to a guy, then not engaged, then almost married, then happily single again while Will (Eric McCormack) weathered her romantic squalls and Jack (Sean Hayes) and Karen (Megan Mullally) barely made it on screen. If you’re hoping to refresh yourself on the origins of the gang, the show’s second episode is the one to study. “A New Lease on Life” laid the foundation for the sometimes-concerning co-dependence of the show’s main characters. Grace makes moves after her breakup with Danny and both she and Will struggle with whether they should take their platonic relationship to the next level, i.e. moving in together. They don’t at first – Grace asserts her independence in Brooklyn and Will puts up with Jack’s messiness – before eventually realizing how integral they are to each other. This episode also contains what may be the most gifable moment in the show’s history: Jack and Karen’s belly button-booping meet-cute.
“The Unsinkable Mommy Adler” (Season One, Episode 13)
This episode marked the first appearance of the late, great Debbie Reynolds so there’s really no other argument needed for giving it a second viewing. Besides ensuring that plenty of showtunes would be sung and pop culture references made, Reynolds’ guest spot also gave us a glimpse into why Grace was always so determined to find herself a man. Grace and her mother Bobbi constantly bicker and nitpick each other but their conversation about marriage and Grace’s current living situation with a gay man ends up putting a strain on Grace’s relationship with Will. Apparently, despite the fact that he firmly bats for the other team, his declaration that he wouldn’t marry Grace even if he were straight strikes a nerve. Reynolds is as spectacular as always and her chemistry with Messing makes it easy to see why she became the only guest character to appear in every season of the show.
“Election” (Season Two, Episode Two)
Will & Grace gave us a worthy example of friendship and most episodes highlighted how supportive the title pair were of each other but some of the best moments came when Will and Grace found themselves on opposite sides of an argument. In “Election,” Grace chafes against Will’s arrogance – and ownership of the building’s sole working fireplace – as he enjoys the perks of being president of the tenants’ association. Naturally she decides to run too (one must never undervalue the opportunity to get it on in front of a warm, crackling blaze) and the duo campaign against each other using some petty, childish tactics – think vandalizing posters, baked goods, and visiting a sickly tenant in the hospital to pressure him to exercise his vote while heavily sedated. It’s always nice to see Will’s superiority complex cracked just a bit and Grace is at her neurotic best in this episode. “Election” also gives u a nice subplot involving Jack, Karen, and Jack’s pet scarlet macaw Guapo who goes missing thanks to Karen’s need to harass streetwalkers in palazzo pants.
“Das Boob” (Season Two, Episode Three)
“Das Boob” is the kind of Will & Grace episode that deserves to be gilded, mounted, and enshrined in the TV hall of fame. Why? Two words: hydra bra. Debra Messing got to show off her physical comedic chops when Grace’s high school crush recognizes her in a magazine article and invites her to his art show. Thinking he’s only interested in her because of how deceptive her photo looked in print – particularly in the breast department – Karen convinces her to try a water-padded bra for some extra perkiness. Of course things go south, holes are poked, water is spouted, and Will’s hands serve as temporary dams at one point before Grace comes clean about her cleavage mishap. Messing has said the episode is her favorite of the series because it gave her a chance to emulate Lucille Ball.
“Homo For The Holiday” (Season Two, Episode Seven)
Most of the time, Will & Grace poked fun at Jack’s flamboyantly gay ways. His out-and-proud demeanor was often the foil to Will’s more reserved sexuality. But there were moments when the show stopped being silly to focus on more serious matters, like the undeserved stigma that goes along with being gay. When Will surprises Jack by inviting Jack’s mother (Veronica Cartwright) to their Thanksgiving dinner, the group learns that he’s never come out of the closet to the woman who gave birth to him. Sure there were some signs – she caught him in bed with a guy and a Dirt Devil once – but Jack was always able to find an excuse to hide his sexual orientation (school lice checks and inner ear problems). As hilarious as it is to watch Grace and Karen fight over their pretend heterosexual trysts with Jack, the show also gives us a poignant moment between Jack and Will that reminds us why they became friends and how difficult it is to truly be yourself in a world that doesn’t always encourage authenticity.
“Gypsies, Tramps, And Weed” (Season Three, Episode Seven)
You know the stereotype that all gay men love Cher? Well, you can thank Jack McFarland for that. The guy had a strange obsession with the singer, so much so that during “Gypsies, Tramps, and Weed” he carries around a doll in her image, conversing with her and even securing a booster seat for her when the gang went to celebrate Will’s birthday at a fancy restaurant. While Grace’s gift to Will – a reading with a psychic that reveals he’s destined to end up with Jack – doesn’t go as planned, it’s Jack’s run-in with the real Cher, and his refusal to believe she’s not a drag queen, that really elevates the episode to a place on this list.
“Lows in the Mid-Eighties” (Season Three, Episode Eight)
We were treated to the true origin story of Will & Grace in season three when the pair retell the beginning of their relationship – one that started with them as a couple, morphed into an engagement, then ended abruptly when Will finally told Grace he preferred “driving stick.” In between there were some great moments – like Will’s fixation with a Kevin Bacon poster while the two were making out in Grace’s childhood bedroom – but the sweetest scene comes when Will and Grace reunite a year after their split in 1986 at a grocery store in Manhattan.
“Bed, Bath and Beyond” (Season Four, Episode Seven)
Some of the funniest Will & Grace moments spring from terrible heartache and here it’s Grace’s. When her proposal to boyfriend Nathan is met with rejection, Grace entombs herself in her apartment and though each of the friends try to convince her to venture outside, she prefers to cocoon herself in misery with an oversized comforter instead. Will dishes out some tough love, Jack croons a pretty unfortunate tune, but Karen’s method of role paying what went wrong in the relationship is the most laugh-out-loud worthy. The two women act out a romantic squabble with Karen getting more and more invested in the pretend argument before finally embracing Grace in a passionate kiss. After having a complete meltdown over old childhood bat mitzvah photos and pointing out everyone else’s romantic troubles, the entire group joins Grace in bed for a well-deserved pity party. This episode showed the unique bond each of the friends’ had with each other and gave us a nice twist on the break-up trope. Sometimes, you just need a good cry and a few days removed from the world to get over someone.
“A Chorus Lie” (Season Four, Episode 15)
Will & Grace attracted some stellar guest stars over the years including a memorable turn from Matt Damon, who sported tight tees and challenged Jack for the sole remaining spot in a prestigious gay choir. Jack, trying to suss out his competition, realizes that Owen (Damon) is secretly straight and using the choir to get a free trip to Europe so he employs a bit of reverse psychology to convince Grace, whose flirt is on the fritz, to seduce him. Watching Damon do his damnedest not to be turned on while Grace gives him a little T&A action is almost as funny as watching him cry about being a straight man in the overwhelmingly gay-dominated world that is choral singing.
“23” (Season Five, Episode 23)
Karen Walker wasn’t a hard woman to figure out. She loved her husband (or at least his money), her faithful maid Rosario (Shelley Morrison), and a good stiff drink, so when one of those loves was threatened, the show committed an entire episode to it. We’re talking of course about Stan Walker’s death by way of intercourse. After Stan kicks the bucket while in the throes of passion with his mistress, the group lends Karen support during her husband’s funeral, especially when it’s revealed that his younger British trollop (played by Minnie Driver) might walk away with everything after he changed his will. Watching Grace’s narcissism in full swing and Jack’s loyalties shift between two potentially wealthy women is fun, but the highlight of the episode is Mullally’s ability to throw out biting insults while still conveying the sense of loss Karen felt after losing the love of her life.
“The Finale” (Season Eight, Episodes 23 & 24)
The once-assumed series finale of the show usually gets mixed reactions from fans. On the one hand, we get to see Will and Grace in loving relationships, raising families, and content with their lives. On the other, they’ve lost touch after Grace chooses to forgive Leo for cheating on her and travels to Rome with him, effectively ditching the plans she had previously made with her best friend. It all works out – both are married with children two years later – but their friendship suffers for it, eventually stalling to the point that when their kids attend college 20 years later, all they share is a knowing nod and a drink at a bar. It’s bittersweet and ultimately unsatisfying, but it’s worth a watch anyway.