Imagine getting the chance to catch up with some old friends you thought you'd never see again, more than a decade after you last sat down for a drink and a talk. Well, that's what you're going to get with the return to our screens of the popular comedy Will & Grace.

The ensemble cast, led by Debra Messing (Grace), Eric McCormack (Will), Megan Mullally (Karen) and Sean Hayes (Jack), are all back, older but not necessarily wiser, and ready to take on the realities of Trump's America with their trademark wit and acerbic banter.

The cast and crew were drawn back together last year to film an online special encouraging people to vote in the US election, and the response was so positive that NBC decided to reboot the series.

The new 16-episode ninth season premieres in the US on September 28 and here just four days later, and a tenth season of 13 episodes is slated to screen in 2018.


Those who remember the two-part finale in 2006 will be interested to know that there has been some "unpicking" required. At the end of the original series Will and Grace had a falling out, only to meet again years later . . . but scrub that.

"So, this is 11 years later," Messing says.

"It's explained in the first episode how the series finale - which now we all realise was not the finale at all - is not relevant any more, and it doesn't have anything to do with where we pick up.

"Where we pick up, Grace is divorced from Leo, and Will is not with Vince, and Jack lives across the hall - and Karen is still happy with her pills and her drink, and she still works for Grace. Grace is much more successful - her career has really exploded over those 11 years - but what you learn is that she has just moved back in with Will as her marriage has fallen apart."

Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally in
Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally in "Will & Grace". Photo / AP

On its initial airing in 1998, Will & Grace was considered groundbreaking for its portrayal of gay characters in a heterosexual-dominated medium. Today, attitudes have liberalised and marriage equality has become a reality (in the US and New Zealand, at least), but Messing says the core of the show remains the same.

"I don't think it's changed at all. The show was a celebration of friendship, and two of the friends happened to be gay," she says.

"Our humour was always very provocative and sassy - on prime-time TV there were certain things we weren't allowed to say couldn't say, but the writers of our show found really creative ways to say those things. That's what made it fun for the viewers to watch.

"These four people are the core of the show, and it is at its best when the focus stays on the four of them. However, we are going to be bringing back some of our special guest stars who were big fan favourites during the run of the series - that's been great fun."


Politics and the quirks of popular culture were always popular targets for the show's humour. Messing says that is even more relevant today.

"The thing that really made me want to come back and do it again was the fact that the world is a completely different place now.

"Back then there was a lot of hypocrisy and things in our culture and also in politics that needed to be reconsidered, and that was always in the DNA of the show. Now obviously with the election of President Trump and everything that's happened since, so many things have changed and there is a lot to talk about."

But don't worry that Will & Grace has gone all serious - it is still first and foremost a "laugh-out-loud" comedy, Messing says.

Eric McCormack, from left, Megan Mullally, Debra Messing, and Sean Hayes attend a screening of
Eric McCormack, from left, Megan Mullally, Debra Messing, and Sean Hayes attend a screening of "Will & Grace" during the Tribeca TV Festival at Cinepolis Chelsea. Photo / AP

"We're still going to make the first priority making people laugh - that's what it's always been. It feels like we need to make people laugh right now - there's just so much confusion and divisiveness, we need to give people a half-hour where they can step out of all of that and just have a laugh.

"It all comes back to the writers. The writers created a world that was really silly and playful and I think it brought joy to a lot of people.


"That's what people are looking forward to - to reunite with these characters that they got to know over eight years' worth of TV shows. They know that we are going to be making jokes about the current political climate and popular culture and all those things that we laughed about before."

Messing agrees the nostalgia aspect - the idea of revisiting people we used to "know", back when life was simpler - will bring many viewers back to the show.

"I think the people who watched us and loved us originally do want to be able to sort of step back in time, to step out of the time we're in now, because it's challenging us on so many levels.

"And of course there's a whole new generation of people who will be discovering the show for the first time."


Will & Grace

returns with an hour-long episode on Monday, October 2, on TVNZ2, at 8.30pm. TVNZ has also scheduled a marathon of


Will & Grace

season one on TVNZ2 from 10.30am on Saturday, September 30, and there will be back episodes to view on OnDemand.