BRB, bawling, because Will & Grace went and pulled a This is Us on Thursday — and turned its fanbase into a blubbering puddle of tears. Luckily, viewers had the comforting embrace of social media to turn to when the show revealed one of its main characters had died. (You bet spoilers lie ahead, so keep reading at your own risk.)
When the Will & Grace revival’s creators first got to planning this season, they knew they’d be missing an essential part of what made the OG series so magical: Karen’s maid and reluctant BFF, Rosario. Shelley Morrison played Rosie for all eight original seasons and showed up in the mini reunion the cast did to encourage people to vote last fall. But she has officially retired from acting.
Not wanting to blow off such a major character with a few explanatory lines, creators Max Mutchnick, David Kohan, and others decided to address Morrison’s absence in Thursday’s episode in the most heart-wrenching way possible. Karen (Megan Mullally) discovered Rosie had been hospitalized because of a heart attack and died (off-screen) from complications. The plot line was a departure from Will & Grace‘s usual goofy-satire vibes.
But fans praised the show for handling the episode in a way that honored Rosie and her relationship with Karen.
And they were also real emotional.
Many Twitter users were particularly impressed with Mullally’s powerful performance.
Karen’s final monologue at Rosie’s funeral, which was also her Quinceañera — it’s a long story, you need to watch the episode…with tissues — was both tearjerking and totally Karen.
And with a powerhouse performer like Mullally, the creators said they knew the more intense material was in capable hands. As Mutchnick told The Hollywood Reporter:
The cast and crew took to Twitter on Thursday to talk about the episode, too.
We maybe should have seen all this coming since Mullally tweeted a sweet photo of herself with Morrison Thursday afternoon and said everyone should watch that night’s episode. (Could have warned us that we were about to be emotionally destroyed, Megan…)
Rosario wasn’t the only missing cast member who got a bittersweet send-off in the episode. Grace (Debra Messing) also let viewers know her mom — played in the original series by the late, great Debbie Reynolds, who died last year — had also passed away in the years prior to the revival’s storyline. Needless to say, the whole episode was a lot to handle emotionally.
As good as it was, fans can breathe a small sigh of relief (and put their tissue boxes away). When it comes to the rest of this season and next, the creators say they aren’t planning on making super intense storylines like Thursday’s a regular thing.