The original Will And Grace was smart, funny, and progressive. But when the show returned to NBC at the end of September following an 11-year absence, the order had changed. Perhaps feeling it owed a debt to fans of the 2016 election-themed mini-episode that sparked its revival, Will And Grace sent both Will (Eric McCormack) and Grace (Debra Messing) on separate inexplicable journeys to the White House with Jack (Sean Hayes) and Karen (Megan Mullally) in tow, all in an effort to mock the Trump administration with uninspiring results.
This isn’t a “stay in your lane” thinkpiece (the world doesn’t need more of those, particularly in this moment where the reality TV President is on a crusade against socially conscious athletes and celebrities). Plenty of sitcoms lead with the issues, but there’s a difference between what Black-ish does and what The Carmichael Show did (sparking conversation and consideration) and what the season premiere of Will And Grace tried to do (score points with the liberal chorus and maybe inspire an outraged Trump tweet).
The Will And Grace approach wasn’t offputting for political reasons, it was offputting because it felt like a lackluster approach to topical comedy that was beneath the talents of those involved and the mission of the original — that “smart” and “funny” thing. We’ve all heard the Cheeto jokes before. We’ve also heard plenty of substantial and thought-provoking humor aimed at this administration and its actions from the many shows whose mission it is to shine a light into the darkened halls of power. Will And Grace doesn’t have to be that show.