“Will & Grace,” the hit NBC series about the friendship between a gay man and a straight woman, has returned to television 11 years after ending its original run ended in 2006, and the revival is both a critical and ratings smash. In honor of the revival, we’ve ranked the 20 best episodes of the series’ original run. Click through our photo gallery above and see if your favorite episodes made our list.
Debuting in September 1998, “Will & Grace” appeared on a television landscape far removed from the one we know today. Gay characters on television were few and far between, and it was only a few months prior that Ellen Degeneres‘s eponymous sitcom had been cancelled, in part, for being perceived to be “too gay” for mainstream network television. But “Will & Grace” — though not an instant smash — became a hit with critics and viewers because of its witty writing and the winning performances of stars Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally.
Emmy voters showered the show with 83 Emmy nominations and 16 wins over the course of its run. It was named Best Comedy Series in 2000, and each of the main cast members won Emmys for their performances, making “Will & Grace” one of only three shows in television history — along with “All in the Family” and “The Golden Girls” — for which each of the main cast members won an Emmy.
Perhaps the show’s most important legacy is its impact on the acceptance of the LGBT population among mainstream Americans. And although the show did face a fair amount of criticism in its portrayal of the gay community, Vice President Joe Biden said that the series “did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has ever done.” This was followed shortly thereafter by President Barack Obama‘s public support of marriage equality.