The NBC program ran from 1998 to 2006 and starred Eric McCormack and Debra Messing as Will, a lawyer, and Grace, an interior decorator, who were best friends in college and dated briefly before Will came out of the closet. The two spend time with their other best friends, wealthy society wife Karen (Megan Mullally) and flighty, flamboyant Jack (Sean Hayes).
"Will & Grace" co-creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick based the show on Mutchnick's relationship with a friend, Janet, whom he dated before he came out. NBC president Warren Littlefield was the one who hit on the idea of a show featuring the friendship between a straight woman and gay man, and during the development period, Kohan and Mutchnick faxed Littlefield the box office grosses for hit movies such as "My Best Friend's Wedding" and "The Birdcage," demonstrating that stories with gay characters could succeed financially.
"Will & Grace's matter-of-fact gay characters undeniably made a big difference, thanks in large part to the smart writing of creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, and the direction by one of the grand masters of the form, James Burrows," Bloom and Vlastnik wrote in their book "Sitcoms."