Who’s Laughing Now? Shows To Fill TV’s Gay Comedy Void


The gays are not laughing next season now that a spate of LGBT characters have been yanked off the broadcast network stage by one of those comically long canes. Just as they were getting into a good soft shoe, too.

However, two new series with two openly gay male leads give us a little hope — Sean Hayes’ Sean Saves the World on NBC and HBO’s untitled dramedy starring Jonathan Groff. So can Hayes and Groff fill the void left by Happy Endings and The New Normal, not to mention Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 and the ill-fated Partners?

Short answer: god no.

The New Normal couldn’t quite hit its stride and though the gay couple at the show’s center were applauded for their loving and affectionate relationship, Ellen Barkin’s acerbic Nana couldn’t quite ascend to the Sue Sylvester levels of evil genius from Glee‘s first, and by far best, season. On the positive side, The New Normal‘s cancellation leaves the door open for Anderw Rannells’ return to Girls on HBO. Start cutting up the lines, Lena Dunham:


Partners stumbled and did a prat fall on its face immediately out of the gate and no one cared. Because no one saw it. CBS’ lone gay comedy  seemed decades behind much smarter and funnier shows, like ABC’s Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B. To wit, the wit of Don’t Trust the B‘s Luther:


Then of course, there’s the brilliance of Happy Endings‘ Max:


Don’t Trust the B managed to get halfway through a second season before getting axed midseason, though the remaining eight episodes will be available online starting May 17.

Happy Endings hung on as long as it could, but critical praise and low ratings made this its last season on ABC. But as the revivals of Cougar Town and Arrested Development have taught us anything, cancellation isn’t always curtains — USA has expressed interest in picking up the show’s fourth season. Psych! As in it would be great paired with USA’s underrated gem, Psych.

But Partners never stood a chance and CBS barely gave it one. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be for David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. Remember Good Morning, Miami?


Of course you don’t.  KoMut tried to reproduce the success of Will & Grace after it took off — to no avail. In fact, the Will & Grace connection has been more gift than curse with the cancellation of Debra Messing’s Smash. No one’s seen or heard from Eric McCormack in ages. Thankfully, Megan Mullally has guest starred her way onto practically every show and stolen every scene in the process.


And Sean Hayes has kept his wallet well-padded as a producer of TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland, supplemented with recurring roles on…Smash and Up All Night. Well, those are both behind us and now Hayes is taking the lead as the titular Sean in Sean Saves the World — a gay divorced dad who has to juggle his 14-year-old daughter, a sassy mother and a pain-in-the-ass boss. If the previews are any indication, the curse continues.

Or maybe not. Across the pond, Vicious by former Will & Grace writer and producer Gary Janetti has been picked up for a second season. Starring queenly thespians Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi, the traditional, multi-camera, “filmed before a live studio audience” sitcom has garnered mixed reviews. But, honestly, who didn’t think two old queens throwing shade at each other wouldn’t be a hit? It’s basically what Downton Abbey is if you took out all the war and jazz.

Also, Kohan and Mutchnick are developing shows for TBS and Showtime; the TBS one sounds like a TBS show so we’re moving on to the Showtime project, which actually sounds pretty interesting:

an untitled single-camera comedy project —an Upstairs/Downstairs dark comedy that centers on a self-made first generation American billionaire, his family, and the staff that serves them.

Meanwhile, Showtime’s cable competitor HBO has given the greenlight to a dramedy starring Groff, Frankie J. Alvarez and Murray Bartlett. Weekend‘s writer-director Andrew Haigh will serve as one of the producers of the show based on Michael Lannan’s feature script Lorimer. According to  The Hollywood Reporter:

The untitled entry will revolves around the three friends in San Francisco who explore the fun and sometimes overwhelming options available to a new generation of gay men.

Haigh also directed the pilot, which for anyone who’s seen Weekend is probably exciting news. And if you haven’t seen Weekend, it’s one of the best gay films…ever.


So maybe there’s some hope after all. Of course, what hope is there really in a world without Stefon?

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #andrewhaigh #andrewrannells #davidkohan stories and more


  • Jay

    That was Ellen Burstyn on “The New Normal”?!?! She does an amazing Ellen Barkin impersonation!

  • watching1

    I know you don’t care about her, but at least get her name right. Ellen Barkin, who’s wonderful and gave it all she had with some seriously bad writing to deal with. I loved the actors on The New Normal–Ryan Murphy can claim to do cast well–but the show was just awful. Not to mention misogynist and some highly questionable race and sex comments. I have to know what on earth Murphy was thinking when he called intersexed people “losers”. It wasn’t even a joke, which is how they tried to pass off Barkin’s comments.

    I know there’s no rational reason to set a higher bar for gay writers, but I do.

  • Alan down in Florida

    Since others have handled your mistake re: Ellen Barkin I will skip over to your dismissive remark about Eric McCormack post Will & Grace disappearance. Were you actually watching TV you would have seen him in a recurring role as therapist/boyfriend of the title character of Adventures of Old Christine opposite Emmy-winner Julia Louis Dreyfuss. In addition to appearing in TV movies and an assortment of guess-starring visits to TV series, TNT is ready to start running the second season of PERCEPTION starring the disappeared Eric McCormack. Would be nice if your writers actually knew what they were writing of (God forbid) you had a editor edit your postings before putting them up.

  • alterego1980

    I’m totally bummed that Happy Endings was cancelled. I will follow that show to cable in a heartbeat! The comedy was smart and fast paced and Max (Adam Pally) was amazing. i guess that’s what happens when the show is smarter than the clientele; you get cancelled just like Arrested Development.

  • Shadeaux

    That Megan Mullally gif is hilarious!!!!

  • Dev

    This is a terrible written story.

    The above commenters have already pointed out it was Ellen Barkin, NOT Ellen Burstyn and Eric McCormack has been working steadily since WILL & GRACE.

    If you are going to report on the demise of HAPPY ENDINGS, you should also include a sidenote that USA is in talks to pick the show up.

    THE NEW NORMAL and PARTNERS failed because they were terrible shows. If those shows had straight characters, they would have been yanked by episode three. NORMAL did improve and moved away from the stereotypes, but NeNe Leakes was the only watchable thing on the show. Michael Urie’s character was so unlikable, I could never understand why he had a best friend or Brandon Routh as a partner.

    SMASH was canceled because it was a ratings disaster.

    No where is it mentioned that GAYBY star, Matthew Wilkas is playing a gay character lead in UNDATABLE, NBC’s new pilot. There are other new gay characters in new shows. You’re a reporter. Blogger. Whatever. Hit the trades and read the plots.

    I haven’t had time to go through all the new pilots, but I wish gay media would stop the fatalistic, “TV is killing off gay characters!” every time a BAD show is canceled.

  • boring

    All Weekend did was take the “Quirky” dark-ish straight relationship movie and pasted it onto a gay couple. The director wanted to buck the stagnation of gay cinema (which is stale as fuck), and discarded one set of cliches for another.

    Three stars at best.

  • Gregg

    Apologies to Mr. Hayes, but I saw a preview of “Sean Saves the World” and it could be retitled “(More) Partners” … AWFUL! Plus a waste of Linda Lavin’s talent. Finally, I too will miss “Happy Endings.” Especially Adam Pally’s Max. I know he’s straight ’cause I’m attracted to him!

  • shelair

    Here in little old england we have had ‘The New Normal’ for quite some time. On the whole It is was amusing but started falling into a mix of ‘Beverley Hills 90210’ and ‘Little House on the Praire’.
    As for Vicious: We were expecting great thing especially as it has two extremely well cast actors but, and its a big but it seems the Writers have decided to produce drivel and unfunny lines. I’m not sure what show the Live audience was watching but it certainly isn’t Vicious.

  • Niall

    Never liked Sean Hayes, so I have no reason to want to watch his new show.

  • Greg

    Yeah, I didn’t like Partners. Awful. Bad casting of the two leads.

Comments are closed.