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10/16/2014 07:18 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Megan Mullally Explains How 'Will & Grace' Avoided Politicizing Its Gay Message

Eight years after ending its iconic run on NBC, "Will & Grace" is still regarded as an essential cultural game-changer for the representation of gay characters on television -- just ask Joe Biden. The secret behind that success, according to Megan Mullally, is that the show's progressive stance on sexuality "slipped in under the radar."

Mullally, who played the millionaire alcoholic Karen Walker on "Will & Grace," looked back on the series during a conversation with HuffPost Live's Ricky Camilleri about her Broadway show "It's Only a Play."

Few shows had featured prominent gay characters before "Will & Grace," Mullally said, and when they did -- like when Ellen DeGeneres' character came out in her eponymous sitcom's famous "Puppy Episode" -- politics often got in the way of acceptance.

"Because [Ellen's] show was already established and she had established her character as sort of this blonde, blue-eyed girl-next-door, when she came out, then the next episode just couldn't be, like, crazy adventures at the bowling alley," she said. "They had to keep addressing the subject of her being gay, so it became slightly politicized."

"Will & Grace" did experience its share of criticism, including the idea that it presented stereotypes of homosexuality rather than a nuanced portrayal. Mullally responded that "you can't please all the people all the time," and the show's writers also kept negative responses in mind as they wrote.

"The gay-bashing was kind of built in to the scripts, so that if you're so inclined, your work was done for you," Mullally said.

Watch Mullally discuss "Will & Grace" in the video above, and click here for the full HuffPost Live conversation.

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