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It’s just days away from the return of Will and Grace this Thursday night (and This is Us tonight, but I’ll save my excitement for that for later). The cast – Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally, along with show co-creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, were at the inaugural Tribeca TV Festival on Saturday night. While talking about how their characters have evolved since the series ended in 2006, Debra Messing says she only had one small request for her character, Grace Adler, stating “The only thing that I asked for was that Grace be a feminist. That she have a voice.”

Debra playing Grace 2.0 is definitely a case of life imitating art, as both women are democrats. Debra was an outspoken supporter of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, lending her support during the Democratic National Convention last July. The 49-year-old actress also got into quite the Twitter battle with Bernie Sanders stan Susan Sarandon and was a prominent figure at the Women’s March in Washington D.C.

Debra added that in addition Grace being more “woke” in the revival, the show will also address the myriad of new issues faced by the LGBTQ community, noting, “Back then, LGB, we stopped at B. And now 11 years later, the conversation has expanded. There’s T, A, I, and gender fluidity and there are all these things that are now finally being celebrated in our culture.” She added, “The thing we all committed to one another was that we’re going to be the show that we always were. We’re going to talk about what’s happening now.”

Megan Mullally chimed in, agreeing that 2017 offers more opportunities to tell more stories and help increase visibility of LGBTQ characters. She said, “When Will & Grace was on the air, at least for the first several seasons, there were no other shows that had gay characters. We were standing alone in that regard. Now, if you don’t have at least four gay characters, people are like, ‘What’s this piece of s—t?’” And, if you’re a fan of the 00-era Karen Walker, you should be happy to know that she hasn’t changed. At the panel, she was asked if there was anything she wanted to change about her character, a question to which she simply replied “No.”

And, with all of this talk of feminism and LBGTQ issues, politics will come into play in the new season. Megan said that Karen is friends with the Commander-in-Cheeto. In a clip from an upcoming episode, Karen admits, “Donnie is one of my oldest friends. I helped him pick out Melania.” During the panel, Megan shared that Karen is “down at Mar-a-Lago a lot with Donny and Melania. I have a line that ‘Melania just called me after one of her night terrors.’”

Politics aside, one thing that Max Mutchnick got his panties in a wad about dating the panel were the accusations that the show utilized a laugh track. After Megan alluded to it, Max asserted “That’s a live audience. A lot of people are now writing about this, the ‘canned laughter.’ Everyone thinks that we put that stuff in there, but we don’t.” He went on to say, “We’ve never used fake laughs, because we’ve never had to.” I don’t know, Max, the YouTube video that launched the reboot sure sounded like canned laughter to me (I do hope they toned that down).

Laugh track or not, I’ll still be tuning in on Thursday. I’m looking forward to catching up with these characters (mostly Karen, to be honest). Much like the announcement yesterday that Roseanne will feature a gender fluid character, I hope that W&G can bring more acceptance for the LGBTQ community to a wide audience. If the cast could endure an awkward interview with Megan Kelly, they can survive anything. Fingers crossed.

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Will & Grace Cast at SiriusXM Studios

Photos: Getty Images, Backgrid, WENN.com