Will & Grace Completely Smashed Its Thursday Night Competition

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If you hear a faint clinking sound on the breeze today, it’s probably the NBC execs at 30 Rockefeller Plaza toasting a job well done—namely, the fact that their Will & Grace revival, which premiered Thursday night, was the night’s No. 1 show by a long shot.

As Vulture’s Josef Adalian reports, the premiere drew just over 10 million eyeballs Thursday night, landing it the honor of being Thursday’s most-watched entertainment program. (No. 2, Grey’s Anatomy, didn’t even come close.) Even more impressively, Adalian notes, the premiere attracted more viewers than every episode of the original show’s final season, excluding the finale that the revival largely scraps. Given how fragmented audiences have become since that final season—thanks to streaming and the rise of DVRs—that feat is particularly impressive. And once the viewers from those technologies get added in, Adalian guesses the total viewership could climb to 15 million. That indeed, would be worth a dram of brandy.

But how, exactly, has Will & Grace seized such a large audience? It’s likely more than just nostalgia at work. Sure, pre-existing material comes with a built-in fan base that immediately provides a bump—but Will & Grace also benefits from a sunny, old-fashioned optimism, one that is especially welcome during dark times of political strife. Consider, for instance, the bump that Friends and other sitcoms like it received after September 11. Until very recently, Will & Grace was also absent from streaming sites. (It’s now available on Hulu.) Perhaps absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

And then there’s perhaps the most important factor of all: as most reviews indicated, the new Will & Grace is actually good—and very similar to the old Will & Grace. Many reboots quickly show their age, thanks to saggy plotlines and grown-up former child actors who don’t always seem like they really want to be there. In this case, however, the dialogue is snappy as ever, the storytelling is quick, and yes, the characters are still delightfully snarky. No wonder the ratings went through the roof, by modern standards—though in the show’s early-aughts heyday, of course, when Will & Grace were regularly pulling in upwards of 17 million viewers per episode, a similar number would be nothing to crow about.

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Full ScreenPhotos:7 TV Characters Who Have Gotten Stuck on a Subway Just Like You
Ilana and Abbi, *Broad City*

Ilana and Abbi, Broad City

No tale of two girls’ misadventures in the Big Apple would be complete without at least one ill-fated subway ride. In Season 3, Abbi and Ilana experience just that in an episode titled, appropriately, “Getting There.” They just want to get to the airport—but as any New Yorker knows, the train has other plans.

Arnold and Friends, *Hey Arnold*

Arnold and Friends, Hey Arnold

There’s an entire episode of this 90s Nickelodeon staple about Arnold and the gang getting on a subway after dark, thanks to a movie that ran long. There’s a claustrophobic woman chanting “big open spaces,” a homeless guy telling everyone to “get out of my house,” and a dog that unexpectedly gives birth to puppies, bringing everyone together. The episode ends with everyone holding hands and singing—which, though imaginative, is perhaps the most unrealistic thing this cartoon ever did.

Photo: From Hulu.

Cory Matthews, *Boy Meets World*

Cory Matthews, Boy Meets World

What was it with 90s sitcoms and trapping people in trains? Cory, Sean, Eric, and Topanga get stuck underground on their way to a New Year’s Eve party—as a woman gives birth. But hey, they also manage to throw their own party on the train and find a P.S.A. starring Mr. Feeny.

The Tanner Family, *Full House*

The Tanner Family, Full House

Poor Uncle Jesse just wants to get to his long-delayed high-school graduation, but alas, Team Tanner gets stuck on a motionless B.A.R.T. train instead. (See, the subway is awful no matter where you live!) The silver lining? Jess convinces an aspiring high-school drop-out to stay in school, and ends up having an underground graduation ceremony of his own. Fun fact: something similar happened to a real-life Hunter College student this summer.

Oscar and Felix, *The Odd Couple*

Oscar and Felix, The Odd Couple

This one’s an oldie but a goodie: Oscar gets tired of New York City, so Felix tries to show him what a magical place this town can be. Unfortunately, they get stuck in a subway car with some very unfriendly company—including a woman who carries a defective flashlight just so she can hit people over the head with it, should they get too close. She’s clearly well versed in New York etiquette.

Photo: From CBS.

The Golden Girls

The Golden Girls

This one isn’t technically a subway story, but it’s a Golden Girls classic: remember the time our favorite four ladies got stuck at a train station overnight? They recall the incident in a flashback episode called “Bedtime Story” back in Season 2, remembering how they were stranded by the one train station from which trains actually left early. That’s how you know it’s fiction.

Photo: From NBC/.

Elaine Benes, *Seinfeld*

Elaine Benes, Seinfeld

Remember when poor Elaine gets stuck on a train that just keeps stopping? She also experiences that horror that every New Yorker knows so well: the lights cut out as the train sits motionless. Her silent, internal, vastly relatable screams of profane frustration will forever ring in our ears.

Photo: From Castle Rock Entertainment/Everett Collection.

Ilana and Abbi, <em>Broad City</em>

Ilana and Abbi, Broad City

No tale of two girls’ misadventures in the Big Apple would be complete without at least one ill-fated subway ride. In Season 3, Abbi and Ilana experience just that in an episode titled, appropriately, “Getting There.” They just want to get to the airport—but as any New Yorker knows, the train has other plans.

Arnold and Friends, <em>Hey Arnold</em>

Arnold and Friends, Hey Arnold

There’s an entire episode of this 90s Nickelodeon staple about Arnold and the gang getting on a subway after dark, thanks to a movie that ran long. There’s a claustrophobic woman chanting “big open spaces,” a homeless guy telling everyone to “get out of my house,” and a dog that unexpectedly gives birth to puppies, bringing everyone together. The episode ends with everyone holding hands and singing—which, though imaginative, is perhaps the most unrealistic thing this cartoon ever did.

From Hulu.

Cory Matthews, <em>Boy Meets World</em>

Cory Matthews, Boy Meets World

What was it with 90s sitcoms and trapping people in trains? Cory, Sean, Eric, and Topanga get stuck underground on their way to a New Year’s Eve party—as a woman gives birth. But hey, they also manage to throw their own party on the train and find a P.S.A. starring Mr. Feeny.

The Tanner Family, <em>Full House</em>

The Tanner Family, Full House

Poor Uncle Jesse just wants to get to his long-delayed high-school graduation, but alas, Team Tanner gets stuck on a motionless B.A.R.T. train instead. (See, the subway is awful no matter where you live!) The silver lining? Jess convinces an aspiring high-school drop-out to stay in school, and ends up having an underground graduation ceremony of his own. Fun fact: something similar happened to a real-life Hunter College student this summer.
Oscar and Felix, <em>The Odd Couple</em>

Oscar and Felix, The Odd Couple

This one’s an oldie but a goodie: Oscar gets tired of New York City, so Felix tries to show him what a magical place this town can be. Unfortunately, they get stuck in a subway car with some very unfriendly company—including a woman who carries a defective flashlight just so she can hit people over the head with it, should they get too close. She’s clearly well versed in New York etiquette.

From CBS.

The Golden Girls

The Golden Girls

This one isn’t technically a subway story, but it’s a Golden Girls classic: remember the time our favorite four ladies got stuck at a train station overnight? They recall the incident in a flashback episode called “Bedtime Story” back in Season 2, remembering how they were stranded by the one train station from which trains actually left early. That’s how you know it’s fiction.

From NBC/.

Elaine Benes, <em>Seinfeld</em>

Elaine Benes, Seinfeld

Remember when poor Elaine gets stuck on a train that just keeps stopping? She also experiences that horror that every New Yorker knows so well: the lights cut out as the train sits motionless. Her silent, internal, vastly relatable screams of profane frustration will forever ring in our ears.

From Castle Rock Entertainment/Everett Collection.

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