More than a decade after the series finale aired, the lovably dysfunctional foursome that used to reign on NBC's Thursday nights are returning to TV. The Will & Grace revival premieres Thursday, Sept. 28, back on its home network. And you can expect that Will, Grace, Karen, and Jack will offer just as much social commentary as they do laughs. (remember all of those political jokes?). The original series was only recently made available to stream online for the first time, on Hulu and NBC. So if your memories of your favorite Karen insults or Grace fumbles are a little dull, never fear. Bustle has compiled a list of the six most important episodes Will & Grace episodes for you to catch up on all of the core four characters’ shenanigans (and without actually having to marathon all eight seasons) before the revival kicks off.
Whether you’ve been a fan of the hit comedy since the first episode in 1998, or all the revival hype and the 10-minute reunion special about the 2016 presidential election peaked your interest, these six episodes are essential for getting you back into that Will & Grace state of mind. It feels nice to be reacquainted with old friends — especially ones as hilarious as these.
“Das Boob” (Season 2, Episode 3)
Grace gets a call from her high school crush John (played by Scott Patterson of Gilmore Girls), who wants to meet up and reconnect. Karen convinces Grace that the old flame only wants to see her now because she had bigger breasts in high school, so Karen takes her to the store to get a special, enhancing bra with “water-filled extra perkiness.” When Grace and John meet at an art show, the bra malfunctions and steady streams of water shoot out of her chest. So naturally Will tries to solve the problem by cupping her breasts for the evening. The episode illustrates Debra Messing’s physical comedy talents and all the ways in which she was influenced by Lucille Ball. And if nothing else, it’s a very accurate representation of Grace’s experience and chronic unluckiness with love.
“Lows in the Mid-Eighties” Pt. 1&2 (Season 3, Episodes 8-9)
In this two-parter, the show flashes back to 1985 when Will and Grace are dating in college. At a dorm party, Grace’s friend warns that if the couple doesn’t get physical soon, they’ll end up as just friends, so Grace brings Will home to upstate New York for the weekend with the intention of taking things to the next level. When she finally makes a move once everyone has gone to bed, Will panics and locks himself in the bathroom. In a moment of but-I-don’t-like-girls petrified desperation, he phones Jack for advice. Jack’s in high school (and has braces and a mullet!) but met Will while crashing a college party looking for guys. “You’re gayer than gay,” Jack insists. “You’re Marvin Gaye… ain’t no mountain gay enough.” The pep talk ends and Will returns to Grace’s bedroom. But instead of getting frisky, Will proposes to Grace and suggests that they wait until marriage for sex. Will eventually comes out to Grace (and himself), and Grace’s reaction is both heart-breaking and outlandishly hilarious.
It’s comforting to see that the characters are still so thoroughly themselves in flashbacks. Grace’s naive obliviousness is on full display — she’s just as unaware of Will’s sexuality in college as she is just about everything else in the present. Even in 1985 when Will is closeted, Grace has a disastrous perm (which is also somehow pointy), Jack wears braces, and Karen breaks off multiple engagements on the dance floor while pining for Stan, the characters are still so fundamentally themselves. It’s satisfying — and a bit of a relief — knowing that the characters have been so consistently witty and crass and terrible their entire lives. Debbie Reynolds also makes another incredibly spectacular appearance as Grace’s mother, which is reason enough to watch any episode of the series.
“Swimming Pools… Movie Stars” (Season 3, Episode 12)
Will and Grace go to an open house at Sandra Bernhard’s townhouse and pretend to be serious buyers. After rooting through her medicine cabinet and taking photos of the bathroom — “I bet Courtney Love has peed in this exact toilet,” Will gushes — the duo runs into Sandra herself and talk their way into an invitation to her party the next night. Will then makes an offer on the property, which the singer accepts, and when he and Grace try to withdraw their bid and confess their lies, they just end up spiraling deeper into deception and singing a lively version of “Midnight Train to Georgia” with her instead. Unsurprisingly, their faux relationship with Sandra crumbles and the episode ends with the duo arriving for a showing at Uma Thurman’s apartment.
The episode highlights the heightened suspension of disbelief consistent throughout the series, bringing audience, character, and celebrity into the same realm of comedic absurdity. Celebrity cameos and guest spots are present in all eight seasons, but none are too distracting or take the audience out of this fictional world. Will and Grace may have been living in New York City for years and have notable careers, but they can still fangirl like the rest of us.
“Crouching Father, Hidden Husband” (Season 4, Episode 3)
It’s hard to be shocked by Jack. He has an apartment across the hall from Will and Grace, but never a job; he bought a scooter autographed by Ricky Martin from eBay and was locked in an online auction war with his tween rival, who used the moniker Dr. Dangerous, for a pair of platform Britney Spears shoes; most of the time he appears oblivious and impossibly vapid. The most surprising thing about him, though, might be the fact that he’s a father. When his son, Elliot, finds himself without a date for the school dance, Jack tries to find someone to go with him. “His date should be stylish, special, beautiful. A non-smoker who loves to laugh,” he explains to Karen. With no options that satisfy these requirements, they settle on Grace. Jack even chaperones.
Episodes like these establish the emotional roots and morality of the main characters, allowing the absurdities and wild personalities to shine without leaving the audience bereft of sincerity. This is one of the rare occasions where Jack isn’t wholly self-centered; he finally cares about someone else. These moments of tenderness and emotional authenticity are deliberate and consistent throughout the series.
“24” (Season 5, Episode 24)
In the Season 5 finale, Will, Grace, and Jack meet on Karen’s yacht to sprinkle the ashes of her late husband, Stan, into the Caribbean. Despite her gold-digger appearance, which she herself helps perpetuate, Karen’s true love for her late husband is on full display. Karen eulogizes Stan and her rare solemnity is infectious. Although brief — her speech is interrupted by Minnie Driver’s character — Karen’s grief reminds the audience that, although she can’t seem to mention him without including a disparaging comment, her love for Stan is real and certainly not an affectation. This moment is the perfect example of the mix of absurdity, emotional strife, and comedic timing that made Will & Grace a pop-culture staple. Also, at one point in the episode, Rosario jumps off the moving yacht to rescue Karen after she was pushed off. These characters really do love each other. Even if they can't admit it.
Of course, there are a couple hundred more episodes worth the watching, but these six will at least get you in the spirit for the return of Will & Grace — prat falls, dance numbers, and all.