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Happy Pride Month! During the month of June, BroadwayWorld will be bringing you a look back on LGBTQ+ representation in television. We will delve into some of the shows and episodes that broke barriers for the LGBTQ+ community on television! The next show in the series is Will & Grace, which was the first prime-time television series on U.S. television to star openly gay lead characters.

Will & Grace is an American sitcom television series that premiered on NBC in 1998 and originally aired for eight seasons. As the first U.S. television to star openly gay lead characters, Will & Grace was the highest-profile presence of LGBT characters on U.S. broadcast television since Ellen Degeneres' coming-out in the 1997 "Puppy Episode" of Ellen.

Eric McCormack played Will Truman on the series. Will is a gay man who is a successful corporate lawyer who studied at Columbia University, where he met Grace as a freshman; they have been best friends ever since.

Sean Hayes played Jack McFarland, Will's close friend since college. Jack is flamboyantly gay, confident, and free-spirited, having been so from a young age. He drifts from man to man and changes occupations often, being very fickle when it comes to both.

Will & Grace went on to be nominated for 88 Emmys and win 16 during its run and the show is often credited with making Americans comfortable with "the gay next door."

WIll & Grace and its success paved the way for more diverse representation of LGBTQ+ characters on major television shows. The series proved that audiences will watch shows that feature LGBTQ+ stars.

The impact of the show was so large that in 2012, during a debate on the issue of same-sex marriage, Vice President Joe Biden said, "I think Will & Grace did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has ever done. People fear that which is different. Now they're beginning to understand."

In 2014, items from the series were included in the Smithsonian Institution's LGBT history collection. The curator of the collection stated that the sitcom used "comedy to familiarize a mainstream audience with gay culture" in a way that was "daring and broke ground" in American media.

The show was so successful that in 2017, NBC revived the series and it ran for three additional seasons with the original cast, which also starred Debra Messing as Grace Adler and Megan Mullaly as Karen Walker.

Will & Grace was a groundbreaking series for LGBTQ+ representation and it opened the door for future shows and characters. American television took a step in the right direction towards inclusivity and diversity with the premiere of Will & Grace over 20 years ago and though we still have a long way to go, there is hope thanks to shows like this one!

Check back every Monday and Wednesday in June for new editions in the series!

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