As the United States prepared itself for the very first Hillary Clinton–Donald Trump showdown on Monday, a new Will and Grace clip emerged—after a day of social media teasing—to ease Americans’ anxiety about our possibly impending doom. The segment was a blast of pure nostalgia with a topical spin; for nearly ten minutes, the four main characters bantered about Trump and Clinton and the wall and the pantsuits with a smattering of jokes about dicks, Trump University’s dusting course, Paul Ryan’s body, and a miniature horse named Ann Coulter. The setup, inevitably: Boozy socialite Karen Walker is supporting Trump, one of her oldest friends; Jack is an undecided Pennsylvania voter (long story); and Will and Grace must persuade Jack to side with good over evil. (Katy Perry plays a critical role in the resolution of this parlor game, of course.)
As much as the mini-reunion spoke to our current Trump moment, it also felt weirdly relevant in the era of the PC wars. Will and Grace was always bracingly impolite, slyly mocking the very same people it ultimately celebrated and celebrating offensive language by using it with love. In the reunion episode, Karen calls Will a “pussy gay Muslim” and Jack a “weird fag”; Will jokes that Jack isn’t a man; and Jack and Will share a flamboyant crush on Ryan Lochte. Naturally, Karen lands the best line when she warns Jack of the “hordes of brown people” who will pour over America’s borders “from every direction” if Clinton is elected. “I mean, it’s one thing if you’re sitting in the audience at Hamilton,” she explains, “but do you really want to see those people everywhere?”
All of this merriment leaves the die-hard Will and Grace fan thirsting for more. Given that I spent much of my youth secretly recording the show’s reruns on a portable VCR player I hid in my room—then watching them over and over in the dead of night until I could deploy Karen’s best lines at tennis practice to divert attention from my utter lack of physical ability—I deeply understand this thirst. Some outlets have described the reunion clip as a one-off, a quick plug for Clinton and nothing more. I disagree; I strongly suspect that this segment was made to gin up interest for a forthcoming, still-unannounced reunion show (or even season). Here’s a forensic analysis of the clues:
1. The brief emergence of Rosario
Karen’s beloved and much abused El Salvadorian maid Rosario makes a fleeting appearance at the very end of the segment. Her five-second cameo feels awkwardly sliced from a much longer scene and shoehorned into the clip. That would make sense, because Monday’s clip develops an entire plotline for Rosario: Karen built a Trumpian wall in her home; Rosario tried to climb it; Karen fired a “warning shot”; Rosario fell, broke her leg, and decided to sue Karen. Why go through the trouble of creating this B-plot if its only payoff is a disjointed, last-second cameo? Unless the producers decided to slice a huge chunk out of the reunion clip, Rosario’s appearance suggests there’s a great deal more material that we’ve not yet seen.
2. The set
If Monday’s clip is really just a one-off, it must be the most expensive one-off in history. The Will and Grace set has been reconstructed with astonishing fidelity, reproducing even the paintings, teapots, and African sculptures that became exceedingly familiar to certain 12-year-old viewers who watched every episode at least four times.
Why spend so much time and money recreating this iconic set for a short clip? Sure, it could just be high production value for a high-profile reunion segment. But the likelier explanation is that the show will produce actual new episodes—perhaps, a whole new season—but took advantage of the set to quickly shoot a topical clip to tease fans on debate day.
3. The script
Eric McCormack (Will) tweeted a photo of himself on set, probably blocking an episode, reading a script titled “Hot Food.” (That title is an I Love Lucy reference.) Note the bulk of the paper: It looks to be roughly the length of a usual half-hour television script. It does not look like the abbreviated script that surely supplied the lines for Monday’s segment. That confirms my suspicion that we’re looking at a full-blown reunion here with a quick teaser trotted out to whet our voracious appetites.
I could be wrong. But I do not think I am wrong. I think a true Will and Grace reunion is imminent. And I think it’s going to be amazing.