The last time CBS featured a show with a gay character in a lead role was in the spring of 2001 when they were trying to ride the Will & Grace gravy train on a flop show called Some Of My Best Friends. In my opinion, that show was a flop only in that it didn’t attract a mainstream audience, but it was a fantastic show that was co-written by Marc Cherry (pre-Desperate Housewives) and co-starred Alec Mapa before he landed some more prominent roles on Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty. Only 7 episodes were produced and CBS only aired 5 of them before unceremoniously yanking the show from its line-up. CBS never seemed to recover from the experience and has featured very few LGBT characters on their shows since then, unless they played someone who died at the beginning of a CSI or Mentalist episode.
This fall may open the door for the gay community as they will be featuring a series with 2 gay characters. One is played by Michael Urie (Ugly Betty) and the other hunky Brandon Routh (Chuck, Superman). And while Brandon doesn’t typically come across as someone you would peg for portraying gay, he’s done so a few times before, coincidentally on Will & Grace, as well as in the Kevin Smith movie Zach and Mira Make A Porno.
The show itself emulates the lives of the show’s creaters Max Mutchnick and David Kohan. In real life, these two were responsible for Will & Grace with Mutchnick being openly gay while Kohan is openly straight. As described by CBS president Nina Tassler, Partners is “ a show about working with your best friend with whom you’ve grown up” and “how do you find that balance between what you tell your partner and what you tell your best friend.”
The pilot episode opens up with showing the two leads in quick flashbacks from their early childhood until present so that you immediately have a sense that they’ve been life long friends who, like in our real life, have grown into very different individuals. And yet, they still have managed to keep a tremendous bond with one another as best friends and business partners. For those who remember Michael Urie from his Snarky Assistant role on Ugly Betty, you may not immediately recognize him as he is a bit different individual this time around who proves to have some great comedic timing. (Kind of reminded me of a gay “Jack Tripper”..)
I’ll confess in the first 10 minutes of the version I received, I wasn’t sure this was going to fly. Urie (Louis) made me a bit uncomfortable with his over the top personality. But by the last half of the episode, we seem to get a better sense as to what he’s all about and settle in with his character. Brandon Routh (Wyatt), who’s character plays a registered nurse, is a perfect partner for Urie in that he seems to have a laid back persona that compliments the Louis character’s type A persona. You also have his business partner David Krumholtz (Joe) who begins with his dilemma about whether or not to propose to his girlfriend, played by Sophia Bush (Ali). Both had great timing as well and you had a sense that these people had chemistry together.
It’s always difficult to catch up the audience with the character setup while keeping things interesting, but the first episode managed to do so by the end. But again, I’d give this one a chance if you aren’t fully invested in the first 10 minutes.
I don’t want to spoil too much here, but had to share my favorite joke thrown to Brandon Routh’s character acknowledging proof that he is gay by his obsessively recording all of the shows on Bravo. (Interesting how they picked Bravo instead of LOGO, don’t ya think?)
Anyhow, the characters, both gay and straight seem to have some dimension to them, but there is definitely room for some growth. Will and Grace took some time to catch on as well. Let’s just hope that CBS allows this show more time to catch on than they did for Some Of My Best Friends. Fingers crossed.
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