Will & Grace‘s return to TV doesn’t look to be all that temporary.
NBC on Saturday announced at PaleyFest that it has committed to a third season of the revived sitcom, its 11th season overall. This early order comes before production has even begun on the second season of the popular revival. The second and third seasons of the revival will be for a total of 18 episodes each, up five from this year’s run.
Stars Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes — each of whom received a nice raise for the 2018-19 season — are all returning, as are co-creators and showrunners David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. This is the second time that the network has jumped the gun and given Will & Grace the early re-up, its cast’s busy schedules being a prominent factor. NBC announced a renewal before the new episodes even started airing last fall.
The network’s faith has not been misplaced. Season-to-date, the new Will & Grace ranks as NBC’s No. 1 comedy and the No. 2 comedy, overall, on TV. (With an average 3.1 rating among adults 18-49, it is tied with ABC’s Modern Family for runner-up status to The Big Bang Theory.)
Will & Grace‘s influence on the TV ecosystem has been significant. When NBC chief Bob Greenblatt announced that the series would be returning after nearly 10 years off the air, inspired by a politically motivated viral video reunion, others quickly followed suit. ABC commissioned a new season of long-dead Roseanne, and CBS ordered a revival of the Candice Bergen starrer Murphy Brown. The throughline between this trio, of course, is that they all have something to say about the current political divide in America — not that it’s stopping some of the less-topical sitcoms from making a go at it. Sony is trying to reassemble Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser for a new string of Mad About You episodes.
For NBC, one of the biggest benefits of having Will & Grace back on the air is what it has done for Thursday nights. The former home of “Must See TV” has been one of the No. 1 network’s biggest trouble spots. But the halo of Will & Grace has helped lift the night, albeit not fall lead-out Great News. Its premiere night marked NBC’s best Thursday in nearly a decade, since E.R. went off the air.
For McCormack, the news comes days after Netflix renewed his Canadian series Travelers for a third season. In a change, the streaming giant will now be the exclusive home of the drama that was originally a Canadian co-production.
Will & Grace is produced by Universal Television.