The Television Career of Debra Messing

The Television Career of Debra Messing

NBCUniversal's 2014 Summer TCA Tour - Day 1 - Arrivals

The future is still up in the air regarding Debra Messing’s NBC sitcom The Mysteries of Laura. The drama, which also stars Josh Lucas and Janina Gavankar, was panned by critics before it even began airing last fall. Because of this, everyone was surprised when people were actually tuning in to watch Messing’s character Laura Diamond juggle a successful career as a detective and raise two young and menacing boys. So, the concept does seem a little outdated, but it worked and the network decided to give the series a full season order. This is not the first time that Debra Messing has starred on an NBC show. This is also not the second time. Messing has quite the extensive career in television. Here is a look back at some of the high points (Will & Grace) and the low moments (anyone remember Ned & Stacey?).

 The Early Years (1994-1995)

Debra Messing has been on television for over twenty years. She got her first break by starring on three episodes of the police drama NYPD Blue. Her appearance would occur during the second season the gritty drama aired on ABC. Messing would play Dana. She was the younger sister of Donna, who was played by Gail O’Grady. In the first episode, Dana moves in with Donna. Dana instantly tries to put the moves on Detective Medavoy, who is portrayed by Gordon Clapp. In her next appearance she tries to stir the pot when Donna’s ex-boyfriend stops by for a visit. She would continue with this behavior in her third and final appearance. That same year, Debra Messing appeared in the Keanu Reeves’ movie A Walk in the Clouds and in an episode of the television series Partners.

The Pre-Will & Grace Years (1995-1998)

The appearance in A Walk in the Clouds led Debra Messing to be cast in a new comedy for FOX. The series was called Ned & Stacey and Messing would play the lead female character. The series would also star Thomas Haden Church and Gregg Germann. The sitcom focused on Ned and Stacey getting married out of convenience. Ned had to get married in order to be promoted at work and Stacey needed to move out of her parent’s house. It appeared that their relationship was going to turn affectionate, however the series was cancelled after only airing 35 episodes.
During this time, Debra messing would be one of the women chosen to play one of Jerry’s many girlfriends on Seinfeld. She starred in two episodes as Beth. She appears in “The Yada Yada,” which is one of the most popular episodes of the series. One year later in 1998, Debra Messing would star on the television series Prey. Had it not been cancelled after the first 13 episodes, she may not have gotten the chance to star on one of the most popular NBC sitcoms from the late 1990s.

Will & Grace (1998-2006)

Of course, the sitcom being described in the previous paragraph is Will & Grace, which is where many television fanatics remember Debra Messing from when they see her on The Mysteries of Laura. Her former co-star Eric McCormack even guest-starred on a recent episode. Debra Messing almost took some time off after Prey ended, but her agent encouraged her to audition for the role of Grace Adler. Once she knew that James Burrows would be directing for the comedy, she knew she needed to be a part of it. Messing won the part and beat out Desperate Housewives’ alum Nicolette Sheridan.

Will & Grace premiered on Monday September 21, 1998. It would shift around to several time slots before finally landing on Thursday nights, which was Must See TV on NBC. The show found much success and would remain on Thursday nights for the remainder of its run. Will & Grace would rank as one of the 50 most popular television shows during its first seven seasons on air. From seasons three through six, the comedy ranked in the top 20. It was also the most popular series on TV in the coveted 18-49 age demographic.

Debra Messing would win many accolades for playing Grace Adler. She even took home the Emmy Award in 2003 in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Other awards include a TV Guide Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and two Satellite Awards.

The Starter Wife (2007-2008)

Once Will & Grace ended its run in 2006, Debra Messing would go on to star in the television mini-series The Starter Wife. Messing would play the lead character who must move on after her husband leaves her for a younger woman. The miniseries was nominated for 10 Emmy Awards. Messing would receive a nomination in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie. Due to the success of The Starter Wife, USA Network ordered it as a new series. The show would end up being cancelled after one season due to the large budget needed for production.

Smash (2012-2013)

Debra Messing would return to NBC in 2012 to star in the musical drama Smash. The series premiered on February 6, 2012 and Messing played Julia Houston, who was a famous Broadway lyricist. The pilot episode was watched by over 11 million people. However, ratings would continue to drop as the season progressed. The series would average 9 million viewers, which was high enough to give the series a second season. For season two, Smash would move to Tuesday nights, which would affect the ratings. By April, NBC lost all hope in the show and moved it to Saturday nights before it was cancelled in late May.

The Mysteries of Laura (2014-present)

This now brings us to the present where Debra Messing is starring on the NBC drama/comedy The Mysteries of Laura. It was one of the first shows of the 2014-2015 TV season to receive a full season pickup of 22 episodes. The Mysteries of Laura was nominated for a People’s Choice Award in the category of Favorite New TV Comedy. It currently airs on Wednesday nights at 8 PM EST.

What is your favorite TV role of Debra Messing? Let us know in the comments section below.

Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images

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