NBC is the latest network to drop a dose of nostalgia into its programming slate.
Will & Grace, a sitcom from the 1990s that explored the friendship between a gay man and his straight female best friend, is returning to the network next fall. The show, which centers on four characters living in New York City—Will Truman, Grace Adler, and their eccentric pals Jack McFarland and Karen Walker—was hailed for blazing a trail for gay characters during its initial run, and for raising awareness and changing perceptions of homosexuality during the late 1990s and 2000s. The final episode aired in 2006.
The show’s stars—Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Megan Mullally, and Sean Hayes—are all signed on for the reunion, which was officially announced today (Jan. 18) during the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour. It will include 10 episodes that will air during the 2017-2018 broadcast season. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Will & Grace creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick will serve as showrunners on the new production, which will be directed by James Burrows, who also directed the originals.
During its initial run, Will & Grace was a centerpiece of NBC’s “Must See TV” roster. The broadcaster reignited the show’s fan base last fall with a get-out-the vote video tied to the 2016 US election.
TV revivals have become the new norm in the so-called “Golden Age of Television,” with companies like Netflix pouring money into old shows with mass appeal like Gilmore Girls and Fuller House. Showtime is rebooting David Lynch’s sci-fi classic Twin Peaks in the spring, there are talks of a Charmed revival at the CW, and 24 is returning to Fox (sans Jack Bauer) later this year. Other beloved shows like Arrested Development and One Day at a Time have also found second lives on Netflix.
While the reboots certainly tap into fan nostalgia, the originals tend to set a high bar for the storytelling. At their worst, disappointing revivals, like the X-Files reboot, can alienate fans and tarnish the fond memories that audiences had of the original. In other words, don’t mess this up, NBC.