Remember when television had serious, resounding endings? The kind of endings that were created before “revival,” “reboot,” and “remake,” buzzed around every single beloved series’ finale; before American Idol was set to be Frankenstein’ed a mere 13 months after it signed off of the air “for good” in April 2016. Will & Grace had one of those finales. But, when you tune into the NBC revival of the famed comedy, premiering Thursday, September 28, you won’t be walking into the same world fans left in 2006. Instead, you will be watching a world where the big series finale, aptly titled “The Finale,” never really happened. It’s probably high time to figure out why.
As we said, there is a, well, finality to "Finale,” that many current shows now lack. The two-parter tracks the dissolution of Will Truman (Eric McCormack) and Grace Adler’s (Debra Messing) best friendship as life takes over and they drift apart. Grace gets back with the “love of her life” Leo Markus (Harry Connick Jr.), the couple moves to Rome, but eventually comes back to New York City. Oh, and they have a baby together named Lila. Will is married too, after officially settling down with police officer Vince D'Angelo (Bobby Cannavale). And, you guessed it, they too welcome a baby together — a little boy named Ben.
Thing only thing that brings Will and Grace back together is Lila and Ben meeting nearly two decades later in college, when they move in across the dormitory hall from each other in the same way their parents had so many years before. “Finale” closes with Will and Grace revealing their kids are now getting married. The pair’s other best friends, Karen Walker (Megan Mullally) and Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes), are living out their golden years together after Jack was named the sole beneficiary of the late Beverly Leslie’s (Leslie Jordan) vast fortune. Karen would be penniless on her own, since she divorced her rich husband Stan, who had actually borrowed all of his money. The last shot shows the four friends toasting to family.
A story that final can’t quite leave the door open for a revival. Considering the fact Will and Grace’s “Finale” reunion doesn’t take place until 2024 at earliest, that version of events doesn’t exactly allow for sitcom hijinks in 2017 where the titular BFFs live in the same apartment. It’s doubtful their respective husbands, or prospective middle school-aged kids for that matter, would be interested in such an arrangement. On top of those cold hard facts, Will & Grace was never about the trials and tribulations of parenting and relationships with a dash of comedic zaniness. That, my friends, is what Modern Family is for. So, the only natural reaction is to blow up Will and Grace’s marriages and pretend they never, ever had their kids.
“We thought, ‘What did we like about doing it?’ And the answer always was, ‘The relationship between these four characters,’” creator David Kohan recently explained during the Tribeca TV Festival. “If they have kids, it’s a whole different thing. It’s an entirely different set of circumstances and problems and it’s not what [the show] was.” If the Will & Grace revival chose to keep the original ending and feature Lila and Ben, we’re only dealing with our eponymous leads as parents alone. If the kids were simply kept offscreen, the characters we’re supposed to love actually turn into terrible parents who are more interested in watching Karen down a line of martinis then their children’s welfare. Either way, Will & Grace couldn't be the airy, LGBTQ-friendly confection it once was.
Instead of bogging the reunion down with 6th graders and the relentless handsomeness of Bobby Cannavale — who will, worry not, return for a guest starring spot in the revival — season 9 will pick up almost exactly where the majority of Will & Grace had our four favorite characters. In premiere "11 Years Later," Will and Grace will still be cohabiting, only this time as newly-divorced, child-free bachelors and bachelorettes. Jack will still be living across the hall, as opposed to luxuriating in Beverly's palatial digs, while Karen is still married to Stan, who is alive, rich, and well, no questions asked.
Yet, it's a safe bet to assume Karen can still chug an entire bottle of vodka, as she does in "Finale." Some things you simply can't deny.
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