Will & Grace

Will & Grace

Infobox Television
show_name = Will & Grace

caption =
rated =
format = Sitcom
runtime = approx. 23 minutes
creator = David Kohan
Max Mutchnick
director = James Burrows
starring = Eric McCormack
Debra Messing
Sean Hayes
Megan Mullally
Shelley Morrison
country = USA
network = NBC
location = Los Angeles
first_aired = September 21, 1998
last_aired = May 18, 2006
num_seasons = 8
num_episodes = 184
list_episodes = List of Will & Grace episodes
website = http://www.nbc.com/Will_&_Grace_Finale/
imdb_id = 0157246
tv_com_id = 154

"Will & Grace" is a popular Emmy Award-winning American television sitcom that was originally broadcast on NBC from 1998 to 2006. The show takes place in New York City and focuses on Will Truman, a gay lawyer, and his best friend Grace Adler, a straight Jewish woman who runs her own interior design firm. Also featured are their friends Karen Walker, a very rich socialite, and Jack McFarland, a struggling gay actor.

"Will & Grace" is the first network television series to showcase one or more homosexuals as principal characters as part of the show's premise. It is also the most successful such series, despite initial criticism for its particular portrayal of gay people, as it went on to become a staple in NBC's Must See TV Thursday night lineup, where it was ensconced in the Nielsen Top 20 for half of its network run. Throughout its 8-year run, "Will & Grace" earned 16 Emmy Awards, out of a total of 83 nominations.IMDb (2006). [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0157246/awards Awards for "Will & Grace"] ]

"Will & Grace" was filmed in front of a live studio audience (most episodes and scenes) on Tuesday nights, [cite web | url=http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/features/20060509-1549-ca-tv-will&gracefinale.html | title=Goodnight, Gracie: 'Will & Grace' ends landmark run | publisher=SignOnSanDiego | date=May 9, 2006 | accessdate=2008-03-23 ] at Stage 17 in CBS Studio Center, a space that totals 14,000 sq. ft.

The apartment of Will and Grace currently resides in the Emerson College Library on display. The set was donated by creator, Max Mutchnick.

Cast and crew

Principal characters

* Will Truman (Eric McCormack):A gay lawyer and longtime best friend of Grace. He has a very neurotic side, especially when it comes to cleaning. Several characters have commented that his relationship with Grace is more like a couple than that of two friends.
* Grace Adler (Debra Messing):An interior designer with an apparent obsession with food. Grace has been best friends with Will since college. They were a couple in the 1980s until Will realized he was gay after meeting his friend Jack.
* Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes):One of Will's best friends, he is flamboyant and superficial. Jack drifts from boyfriend to boyfriend and job to job, including a struggling actor, retail associate and student nurse. Early on in the show he strikes up a close friendship with Karen.
* Karen Walker (Megan Mullally):An alcoholic and the wife of the wealthy (but never seen) Stan Walker. Karen also has a dependence on prescription drugs, particularly opiate painkillers and amphetamines. She "works" as Grace's assistant making "Grace Adler Designs" more popular among her social contacts. She can be quite insensitive, but is close to Grace and Jack, and occasionally Will.

"In the opening credits, McCormack and Messing are billed together, with top billing alternating between episodes."

Principal recurring characters

"See Supporting characters on Will & Grace for complete list of recurring characters and guest stars."
* Bobbi Adler (Debbie Reynolds) - Grace's entertainer mother
* Rosario Salazar (Shelly Morisson) - Karen's Maid
* George Truman (Sydney Pollack) - Will's father
* Marilyn Truman (Blythe Danner) - Will's mother
* Tina (Lesley Ann Warren) - Will's father's mistress
* Elliott (Michael Angarano) - Jack's biological son from a donation to a sperm bank
* Rob (Tom Gallop) and Ellen (Leigh-Allyn Baker) - two of Grace and Will's closest friends from college and regular charades buddies, a married couple with three children
* Joe (Jerry Levine) and Larry (Tim Bagley) - two of Will and Grace's close friends, a gay married couple with an adopted daughter, Hannah
* Lorraine Finster (Minnie Driver) - the feisty British mistress who stole Stan from Karen and caused their divorce. She and Karen then become enemies.
* Beverley Leslie (Leslie Jordan) - a closeted, staunchly Republican, very short and very wealthy socialite whose relationship with Karen changes rapidly from friend to enemy and back
* Dr. Marvin "Leo" Markus (Harry Connick Jr.) - Grace's boyfriend (starting in season five) and eventual husband; their marriage ended (season seven) after he cheated on her. He is also the father of her child (season eight) and in the series finale they are raising their daughter, Laila
* Val Bassett (Molly Shannon) - a slightly crazy, alcoholic, divorced woman who lives in the same building as Will, Grace, and Jack; Val tends to get into fights with Grace, and has been known to stalk Jack
* Vince D'Angelo (Bobby Cannavale) - Will's first long-term boyfriend in the show's run, with whom he eventually raises his son, Ben (seasons six through eight)


* Max Mutchnick - Creator, Head Writer
* David Kohan - Creator, Head Writer
* James Burrows - Executive Producer and Director -- Burrows directed all 194 episodes of the series, which has since become a directing record. [cite web | url=http://www.tvseriesfinale.com/2006/05/will_grace_the_big_finale_is_full_of_surprises_1.html | title=Will & Grace: The Big Finale is Full of Surprises | publisher=TVSeriesFinale.com | date=May 29, 2006 | accessdate=2007-07-27 ]
* David Kohan - Executive Producer
* Jhoni Marchinko - Executive Producer
* Max Mutchnick - Executive Producer

* Jeff Greenstein - Executive Producer
* Jon Kinnally - Executive Producer
* Tracy Poust - Executive Producer
* David Flebotte - Executive Producer (Season 7)
* Alex Herschlag - Executive Producer
*Adam Barr
*Gail Lerner
*Kari Lizer
*Bill Wrubel


Will & Grace's early relationship

Will and Grace first met at Columbia University in 1985, living across the hall from one another in a co-ed dorm. They instantly connected and soon began dating. Will then threw a Dorm Party which Jack crashed, and after the party was over Jack accused Will of being in denial about his sexual orientation. After proposing marriage to Grace (as a way to postpone sleeping with her) Will finally came out to her. Grace threw him out of her family's house and they did not speak for a year (Grace having moved off campus), but they accidentally ran into each other again on Thanksgiving the following year (1986) at D'Agostino's supermarket. This meeting spurred a reconciliation and they became best friends. (These events are seen as flashbacks during the third season of the show).

As roommates

In the pilot episode of the show, Grace was about to get married to her boyfriend Danny. When Will disapproved, she became angry and planned to get married secretly anyway. However on the way to the wedding she realizes that Will was right, and she leaves Danny. Needing an apartment, she moved in with Will, in his apartment on the Upper West Side in NYC. Will and Grace spend a lot of time with one another as well as with friends Jack McFarland and Karen Walker. Jack is a flamboyant, gay, struggling stage actor-singer-dancer who, over the course of the show, has a range of jobs including cater waiter, acting teacher, student nurse, retail sales (working for Banana Republic and Barneys), back-up dancer for singers such as Jennifer Lopez and Janet Jackson and TV producer. Karen, an alcoholic multimillionaire, works as Grace's assistant, a job she took to have time away from the home she shares with her husband Stan and his kids, Mason and Olivia. Another character who factored into the early episodes of Will & Grace was Will's client Harlin Polk, played by Gary Grubbs. At first he was given billing in the opening credits with the other four cast members, but interest in his storyline waned, and he was written out of the show early in the second season (Harlin, rather reluctantly, fired Will and hired another lawyer).

The show follows both Will and Grace's attempts to establish romantic relationships without sacrificing their often co-dependent reliance on one another for emotional support. A common joke finds Jack and Karen referring to Will and Grace as married, "non-romantic life partners", or "sexless lovers." At the beginning of the second season Grace moved into her own apartment (across the hall from Will's) in an attempt to put some distance between herself and Will, but then ended up moving back at the beginning of the third season. She moved out again after getting married early in the fifth season, but she moved back in with Will after separating from her husband during Season 6.


Grace has had several lovers on the show, portrayed by actors such as Woody Harrelson and Edward Burns. Frequently, her lovers feel frustrated by her relationship with Will, jealous of their closeness, personal jokes, and ability to finish each other's sentences. Eventually she married Leo, played by musician and actor Harry Connick, Jr. Leo was unusual in that Grace's friendship with Will seemed not to bother him; at one point, when Grace was extremely upset about Leo's upcoming six-month absence, she asked if Will could sleep (platonically) with them, and Leo responded with good humor, saying, "I knew this was going to happen one day." They split in the finale of the show's sixth season after Grace discovered Leo had had an adulterous affair while working with Doctors Without Borders in Cambodia. In the series finale (May 2006), however, Leo tells a heavily pregnant Grace that he loves her. They subsequently raise their daughter, Lila, together.

Will has been less successful romantically, a fact lamented by many fans who long to see a gay man portrayed on television in a happy relationship. He did have a seven-year relationship with a man named Michael, but this partnership ended before the series even began. Will does not have any more serious long-term love interests until the spring of 2004 when the character of Vince, an Italian-American New York Police Department officer played by Bobby Cannavale, was introduced. Their relationship lasted until the spring of 2005, when Vince lost his job and the two decided to "take a break." Will met James, supposedly by fate, at a "Sound of Music" sing-along and again in Los Angeles. Just as they started to get close however, James discovered he was going to be deported. In order to give Will and James a chance, Grace agreed to marry James in order to help him avoid deportation. This, along with James relationship with Will was short lived when it was revealed he was a major jerk of a person. He was played by "Rent" star Taye Diggs. However in the final season, Will was reunited with Vince and the two would eventually get married and have a son together by the name of Ben.

Jack, whose floundering one-person show and acting career has been established as a hopeless dream, eventually finds work in retail sales and married (and later divorced) Karen's maid and longtime friend Rosario Salazar in order to help her gain US residency (green card). It was also revealed that he had a teenaged biological son named Elliott, played by Michael Angarano. Elliott was conceived through artificial insemination and mothered by Bonnie, a lesbian played by Rosie O'Donnell. Jack's longest relationship is with Stuart Lamarack (Dave Foley), which lasts several months during the sixth season, until Jack cheats on Stuart.

Karen's husband, Stan Walker, is described as an extremely wealthy and overweight man with some unusual sexual tastes, who gives a lot of business to Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Jailed during season four for tax fraud, Stan was released in season five, but Karen soon caught him sleeping with his British mistress Lorraine Finster (played by Minnie Driver), whom he met when she worked in the prison cafeteria. During Stan and Karen's divorce proceedings at the end of season five, Stan dropped dead, and season six saw Karen explore other avenues of dating, culminating in her 20-minute-long marriage to Lorraine's father, Lyle (played by John Cleese, who went uncredited). At the end of the seventh season, it was revealed that Stan faked his death and, in season eight, he and Karen reconciled after she had a brief affair with a government agent (played by Alec Baldwin). However, by the end of the show, Karen leaves Stan for good, at which point it is revealed that much of everything he owned was on loan, hence her huge settlement was worthless.


In season five, Will and Grace experience their first big fight since the series began. Will and Grace decided to have a child together via artificial insemination. However, she meets and falls in love with Dr. Leo Markus and becomes unsure about continuing with the plan. Will and Grace argue about if she still wants to have the baby and she decided against the idea. Will then accuses Grace of being a flake. The two argue heatedly, deciding to end their friendship. Karen and Jack scheme to make Will and Grace friends again, eventually succeeding.


Critical reactions

The show garnered a fair amount of criticism and negative reviews upon its debut in 1998, most of which compared the show to the recently canceled ABC sitcom "Ellen". One such review said, "If "Will & Grace" can somehow survive a brutal time period opposite football and "Ally McBeal", it could grow into a reasonably entertaining little anomaly-- that is, a series about a man and a woman who have no sexual interest in one another. But don't bet on it. If it's doomed relationships viewers want, they'll probably opt for "Ally"." [cite web | last = | first = | title = Will & Grace | publisher = Daily Variety | url =http://www.variety.com/awardcentral_review/VE1117477856.html?nav=reviews | date=September 16, 1998 | accessdate=2007-07-27 ] "Ally McBeal" had its final episode in 2002, four years before "Will & Grace" ended. As much as the show's eventual appeal disproved much of its initial criticism, the show continually dealt with the criticism for having a limited view of the gay community and for reinforcing stereotypes when some felt it should have torn them down. [cite web | last = | first = | title = Watching with Ambivalence | publisher = Pop Matters Television | url =http://popmatters.com/tv/reviews/w/will-and-grace.html | date=October 3, 2000 | accessdate=2007-07-27]

The series finale was heavily promoted by NBC and McCormack, Messing, Mullally and Hayes appeared on Oprah and The Today Show to bid farewell, on May 10 and May 18, respectively. NBC devoted a two-hour block in its primetime schedule on May 18, 2006, for the "Will & Grace" send-off. An hour-long series retrospective, "Say Goodnight Gracie", featuring interviews with the cast, crew, and guest stars, preceded the hour-long series finale. Series creators and executive producers Kohan and Mutchnick who had not served as writers since the season 4 finale, penned the script for "The Finale". Regarding the finale, Mutchnick stated, "We wrote about what you want to have happen with people you love... All the things that matter in life, they end up having." [cite web | last = | first = | title = NBC's 'Will' bows out gracefully | publisher = USA Today | url =http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2006-05-17-will-grace-retrospective_x.htm
date=May 17, 2006 | accessdate=2008-03-22

Awards and nominations

"Will & Grace" had been nominated for 83 and won 16 Emmys. From 2001-2005, "Will & Grace" was the second-highest-rated sitcom among adults 18-49, second only to NBC's own "Friends", which usually preceded it on the Thursday-night schedule. It has also been heralded as responsible for opening the door to a string of gay-themed television programs, such as "Queer as Folk", "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and "Boy Meets Boy". "Will & Grace" has won several GLAAD Media Awards for its advocacy of the gay community. Despite more than two dozen nominations, "Will & Grace" never won a Golden Globe award.

In the summer of 2005, "Will & Grace" was nominated for 15 Emmys, tied with "Desperate Housewives" as the series receiving the most nominations. Unlike "Housewives", however, "Will & Grace" received many of its nominations during the 2004-2005 season for its guest actors and actresses. From these nominations, the series won two awards for the season. One of the two awards was for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, won by Bobby Cannavale for his role as Vince, Will's boyfriend.

In the summer of 2006, "Will & Grace" was nominated for 10 Emmys for its final season, including a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress for Debra Messing, Outstanding Supporting Actor for Sean Hayes, and Outstanding Supporting Actress for Megan Mullally. Mullally won the award for her category (her second win out of seven nominations), and Leslie Jordan won the award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his recurring role as Beverley Leslie. For the second-time, the show wasn't nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series (the first in 1999 for season 1) after 6 consecutive year of nominations.

"Will & Grace" is one of only three sitcoms in which all actors playing the main characters (McCormack, Messing, Hayes, and Mullally) have each won at least one acting Emmy. The other two sitcoms to have achieved the same feat are "All in the Family" and "The Golden Girls".

Each with three awards, both Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally hold the record of winning the most Screen Actors Guild Awards for the categories Best Performance by an Actor in a Comedy Series and Best Performance by an Actress in a Comedy Series, respectively, for their roles in "Will & Grace".

Ratings/NBC broadcast history

"Will & Grace" was created by David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, who were co-writers of "The Wonder Years". "Will & Grace" was aimed at a younger audience, were associated with homosexuality and pursuing careers.

Inspired by Jewish theologian Marin Buber's "I and Thou", "Will & Grace" was produced by KuMot Entertainment, Three Sisters Entertainment in association with NBC Universal Television, for NBC in the U.S. "Will & Grace" debuted on Mondays beginning on September 21, 1998, and steadily gained in popularity, culminating when it moved to Thursday night as part of NBC's Must See TV line-up. The show ultimately became a highly rated television show in the United States, earning a top-twenty rating during four of its eight seasons, including one season at # 9. However, when the show lost "Friends" as its lead-in after the 2003-04 season, gained the disappointing "Friends" spin-off "Joey" as its lead-in, and competition from CBS's Thursday night line-up increased, "Will & Grace" began shedding viewers and slipped out of the top 20 during its last two seasons, until its series' ending on May 18, 2006.

"The Finale" drew in an estimated 18.1 million viewers, [cite web | last = | first = | title = 'Will & Grace' Helps NBC Stay Tough on Thursday | publisher = Zap2It | url =http://www.zap2it.com/tv/ratings/zap-ratings051806,0,2450059.story
date=May 19, 2006 | accessdate=2008-03-22
] 18.43 million viewers overall, [http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117943818.html?categoryid=1275&cs=1&query=will+and+grace+finale+ratings] ranking # 8 for the week, easily making it the most watched episode of the final two seasons. While the series finale is considered a ratings success, it is far from being the most watched episode of "Will & Grace"—that accolade remains with the season three episode "New Will City", which aired on October 12, 2000 and ranked # 4 for the week. When the show was at the height of its popularity (seasons 3-5), ranking in the Top 10 was a common occurrence, but the finale's Top 10 rank was the only such rank for season 8 and the first such rank since the season 7 premier "FYI: I Hurt, Too".

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of "Will & Grace" on NBC.

Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps. All times listed are North American Eastern Time."


In December 2003, in the midst of the series' sixth season, executive producers and creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick sued NBC and NBC studios, alleging that the network sold the rights to the series in an attempt to keep profits within the NBC family and thus cheating Kohan and Mutchnick out of considerable profits had the network shopped the show to the highest bidder. Another allegation against the network was that during the first four seasons of the series, the studio licensed the rights for amounts that were insufficient for covering production costs, thus leading to extraordinarily large production deficits.cite news|url=http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2003-12-12-will-grace_x.htm|publisher=USA Today|title=Producers of 'Will & Grace' sue NBC| date=December 16, 2003 | accessdate=2008-03-22] Three months later, NBC filed a countersuit against Kohan and Mutchnick stating that the co-creators were expected to act as an independent third party in the negotiations between NBC and its subsidiary, NBC Studios.cite news|url=http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2004-03-05-will-grace-suit_x.htm|publisher=USA Today|title=NBC sues 'Will & Grace' creators| date=March 5, 2004 | accessdate=2008-03-22]

With a pending lawsuit and production beginning on other projects, Kohan and Mutchnick were absent on the "Will & Grace" set for most of its final seasons. They wrote the season 4 episode, "A Buncha White Chicks Sittin' Around Talkin'" and did not return to the writers' seat until the series finale four years later. Three years after NBC's countersuit and one year after the series ended, the legal battle between NBC and Kohan and Mutchnick ended in 2007 when all parties agreed on a settlement, with the series creators being awarded $49 million, of their original $65 million lawsuit.cite news|url=http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3ia76075fe469ef9a445bf8a470ba6059d|publisher=Hollywood Reporter|title=Surprise settlement in 'Grace' case| date=April 27, 2007 | accessdate=2008-03-22]

Jack and Karen - Spinoff

Rumors emerged in October 2008 that a spinoff is in development for NBC featuring Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes as the principal characters. Although these reports have been widely repeated, they originated with the National Enquirercite news|url=http://blogs.nypost.com/popwrap/archives/2008/10/would_you_watch.html|publisher=NY Post PopWrap Blog|title=Would You Watch 'Jack & Karen?'| date=October 6, 2008 | accessdate=2008-10-08] and have yet to be confirmed or denied by NBC or anyone involved with the production.


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