About the Show
September 21, 1998
Eric McCormack as Will Truman
Debra Messing as Grace Adler
Sean Hayes as Jack McFarland
Megan Mullally as Karen Walker
"Will & Grace" is a sitcom created by Emmy winners David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, who served as executive producers alongside Gary Janetti, Tracy Poust, Jon Kinnally, Tim Kaiser and Emmy-winning director James Burrows. The comedy series ran for eight seasons on NBC, from 1998 to 2006.
The series centers on Will Truman (Eric McCormack, "Perception," "Full Circle"), a gay lawyer, and Grace Adler (Debra Messing, "Smash," "The Mysteries of Laura"), a straight interior designer. Will and Grace are best friends living in New York, and when Grace's engagement falls apart, she moves in with Will. The other central characters are Jack (Sean Hayes, "Sean Saves the World," "The Millers"), Will's flamboyant gay friend, and Karen (Megan Mullally, "Childrens Hospital," "Party Down"), Grace's sassy assistant, a hard-drinking, pill-popping socialite who married into money (more than once). Together, the characters go through the trials of dating, sex, relationships and their careers, butting heads at times but ultimately supporting one another while exchanging plenty of witty banter along the way.
When asked in an interview what her favorite episode was, Messing chose Season 2's "Das Boob." In the episode, an article about Grace gets published in the newspaper, and the accompanying photo shows her looking much bustier than she really is. When an old crush sees the article and calls her up, Grace attempts to keep up her inflated appearance by wearing a water-filled bra on their date. Grace springs a leak in what Messing describes as a "classic Lucille Ball" moment.
The most-watched episode was Season 4's "A Chorus Lie," in which Matt Damon ("The Bourne Identity") guest stars as Jack's rival, Owen. Jack and Owen are competing for the last spot in a gay men's chorus, and Owen emerges victorious, even after Jack catches Owen making out with Grace and manages to "in" him - in other words, reveal that he's straight.
The series had countless memorable guest stars, including Molly Shannon ("Saturday Night Live") in the recurring role of a nutjob whose bizarre behavior includes dancing for security cameras, Neil Patrick Harris ("How I Met Your Mother") as a closeted leader of an ex-gay group called Welcome Home, and Cher, who in one episode gets outdone by Jack in a Cher-impersonation contest.
"Will & Grace" was the first prime-time television show to have an openly gay male lead. Coming right on the heels of Ellen DeGeneres' character coming out on "Ellen" in 1997, "Will & Grace" pushed homosexuality further into the mainstream and has been credited with advancing the LGBT movement. When U.S. Vice President Joe Biden came out in support of gay marriage and gay rights in 2012, he said, "I think 'Will & Grace' probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody's ever done so far. People fear that which is different. Now they're beginning to understand." The show helped open the door for gay-themed shows that have come since, such as "Queer as Folk," "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and "Boy Meets Boy."
"Will & Grace" won 16 Emmy Awards, with 83 nominations. All four stars won at least one Emmy for their work on the show, making it only the third sitcom to accomplish such a feat. The show also brought home trophies from the GLAAD Media Awards, TV Guide Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Directors Guild Awards, American Comedy Awards, Television Critics Association Awards and Producers Guild Awards. The show steadily grew in popularity, and from 2001 to 2005 it was the highest-rated sitcom among viewers 18 to 49.
Other guest stars include Harry Connick Jr. ("Law & Order: SVU"), Edward Burns ("Mob City"), Woody Harrelson ("True Detective"), Michael Douglas ("Wall Street"), Tracey Ullman ("State of the Union"), Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock"), Jennifer Lopez ("The Boy Next Door"), Sharon Osbourne, Elton John, Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, Jack Black ("Bernie"), Wanda Sykes ("The New Adventures of Old Christine"), Clark Gregg ("The Avengers"), Jeremy Piven ("Entourage"), Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie"), Madonna, Katie Couric, Demi Moore ("A Few Good Men"), Sharon Stone ("Basic Instinct"), Ellen DeGeneres, James Earl Jones ("The Hunt for Red October"), John Cleese ("Monty Python's Flying Circus"), Luke Perry (Beverly Hills, 90210), Rosanna Arquette ("Pulp Fiction"), Chloë Sevigny ("Big Love"), Glenn Close ("Damages"), George Takei ("Star Trek"), Lily Tomlin ("Web Therapy"), Andy Garcia ("Ocean's Eleven"), Jason Biggs ("Orange Is the New Black"), Josh Lucas ("The Mysteries of Laura") and Sandra Bernhard ("Roseanne").