Will & Grace ended its eight-season run on NBC in May of 2006 with a memorable final episode that drastically shook up the lives of the show's main characters. So how will the Will & Grace revival change the series finale? Given that nobody expected to have to continue the story after that game-changing flashforward, it's clear that the writers will have their work cut out for them when Season 9 kicks off on Sept. 28.
First, a brief refresher to remind fans why the events of the finale pretty much have to be retconned. The divisive episode flashed forward to the year 2026, and revealed that former roommates Will Truman and Grace Adler hadn't spoken to each other ever since a blow-out fight 18 years earlier. In the intervening years, Grace had married Leo and moved to Rome; Will had married Vince; Karen had divorced Stan and turned out penniless; and Jack had married Beverley and inherited his fortune when he died.
The time jump established that Jack and Karen — their power dynamic now reversed — had moved in with Rosario; and Will and Grace finally reconnected when their kids (Will's son Ben and Grace's daughter Lila) moved into the same college dorm.
Given that it's currently 2017, that should place the revival about 11 years after the final season, and about nine years before the finale's flashforward. In other words, Will and Grace should be in the middle of their not-talking-to-each-other period, Karen should be poor, and Jack should be rich. So why does everything in the revival's promos feel pretty much just like it was back in 2006?
"Will and Grace are living together, Jack's across the hall, Karen's still rich," star Eric McCormack teases in the "First Look" promo above. "We just get back to business." So what happened to the events of that bittersweet finale? Are they simply being erased from history, ignored in favor of maintaining the balance and chemistry that made the show famous in the first place? Or will the writers attempt some sort of explanation as to why things are so different in the revival from what was explained during the finale?
"We've just come out of a story camp that lasted about three months," series co-creator Max Mutchnick told E! News in an interview this past June. "That's where we break and write all of the episodes that we will be filming in August or whenever we start. I will tell you that almost more than anything, more time went into figuring out how are we going to reintroduce the show and what were the rules going to be and how were we going to address that finale." "And where are they in their lives," the show's other co-creator, David Kohan, added.
"We can tell you this much," Mutchnick teased to E!. "They are very much living in that apartment in 2017 in the month of September, on the 28th of September at 9:00. That's when you're going to meet up with them again and they are going to explain to you exactly what happened so you know the rules moving forward and you won't feel like anything is left open."
It sounds like the writers will be attempting some sort of actual explanation for why the events of the finale have changed so drastically, rather than simply sweeping that last episode under the rug and pretending it never existed. But what could such an explanation be? Was the finale a dream? Will the revival involve time travel? Is everyone dead and living in some demented purgatorial afterlife??
Will & Grace has a lot of explaining to do… but something tells me that fans will be onboard with the revival no matter how convoluted the hand-waving it takes to get all their favorite characters back in the same place again.