The Odd History Of CBS’ Gay-Straight Sitcom, Partners

Partners, a new sitcom about architects with differing sexual orientations—mirroring the real-life relationship of its producers, Will & Grace co-creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan—doesn’t debut on CBS until September 24. But it’s a story that’s been bubbling near the surface for decades.

First there was Partners, the 1982 buddy flick starring Ryan O’Neal and John Hurt, about a straight cop paired with a mincing police clerk. Besides the similar gay-straight dynamic, the film was directed by James Burrows, an executive producer on both Will & Grace and the new Partners TV show.

Then there was Partners, a 1995 Fox sitcom about young architects Bob (Jon Cryer) and Owen (Tate Donovan).  According to its wiki description, most of the humor on the show stemmed from Bob’s lack of prowess with women and his competition with Owen’s fiancee for his partner’s attention. (Apparently, in 1995 the closest we could get to a gay male lead was Jon Cryer.)

Interestingly enough, James Burrows directed a few episodes of this Partners and its creator, Jeff Greenstein, was also an executive producer on W&G.

In the new Partners, Joe (Numb3rs‘ David Krumholtz) and Louis (Ugly Betty‘s Michael Urie) are Odd Couple-type friends and coworkers who see their relationship tested by romantic entanglements: Joe gets engaged to Ali (Sophia Bush) and Louis lands new boyfriend Wyatt (Brandon Routh).

A show about the relationship between Mutchnick and Kohan, who met in high school, has been bouncing around Hollywood for some time. (At one point it was even rumored to be heading to NBC’s prime time schedule.)

Perhaps its best that its taken so long for the whole thing to come together: In 1982, the gay in Partners was a mincing pansy. In 1995 he was a straight guy with no game. In 2012, he’s played by an out gay actor and gets to date Superman.

Ain’t progress sweet?

Photo: Matt Kennedy/CBS

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  • Analog

    Doesn’t look all that funny but I love Michael Urie and hope it’s a hit.
    (How I Met Your Mother is about as funny as an orphanage on fire and that’s a success, so fingers crossed…)

  • Tylertime

    Looks bad and only on TV would Michael Urie end up with Brandon Routh.

  • Daez

    I’m not a huge Michael Urie fan. The straight lead in this show is going to be so much hotter. Let us remember that this comes from the creators of Will and Grace. That show at its core was nothing more than one gay stereotypical joke after another. If Urie’s character gets written anything like Jack, this will be a show to grown through as all the straight girls that want to be hip and edgy eat it up as any real gay guy groans at the exploitation of the gay stereotype.

  • Mangina

    I’m watching it!

  • Ted B. (Charging Rhino)


    As a gay architect, it would be nice if they FOR ONCE could accurately portray how an architect’s office and business actually-works. Previous architects on TV shows…The Brady Bunch, Growing Pains, Partners..never captured the profession correctly, how the stresses of your work-life affect your home-life (if any) and relationships, nor the fact that not all architects are instantly-successful and well-off.

  • Pete N SFO

    You guys… get over yourselves; it’s SitCom TV!

    It looks funny enough for me, and I really like that it will allow people to see more gay/straight friendships between men.

  • ron

    I watched the trailer…..It looks perfectly painful! Un-original and boring. I know it’s not a documentary but still it plays to every possible stereotype and lame humor. Ugh!

  • n

    Its Will and Grace from the last two season on…and Grace had gender reassignment surgery…from the same creators

  • Charlie

    Watched the screener for the first episode and I liked it. If you cannot stand Will and Grace because Jack was too effeminate for you and most jokes were based on a character being gay then you probably won’t like this one (but again it’s the first episode, most of the humor is trying to cement the relationship). Routh plays dim congeniality very nicely.

  • Brandon

    1982 gay part was mincing pansy.
    2012 gay part was mincing pansy.

  • Larkin

    I like mincing pansies.

  • Jim Steele


  • Analog

    Mincing pansies RULE!

  • EvonCook

    This show, as perhaps any prime time TV show plays to all the worst aspects of stereotypes: gay, jewish, whatever trying to make the self depreciating humor palatable for tv land viewers. I watched Will and Grace once for 15 minutes and was so revolted and disgusted that I had not the slightest interest and never watched it again, although I heard the continued complaints from the community about it being such stereotyped, limp-wristed faggotry and never really romantically or erotically serious–that was verboten! Now, what I consider the most realistic, involving and issue laden show was Queer as Folk. Would rather watch a hundred reruns of that to any more of Partners than you have already provided. As a community we have to stop being willing to support just ANYTHING, especially material that makes us clowns, nellie queens and wimps. I realize that just perhaps that might be the only way of inculcating a gay consciousness subversively in this culture, but it is too sickening to bear and could backfire setting us back fifty years. Try this shit of stereotyping lesbians on TV and you’d have a revolt and uprising, not mere bra burnings. I’d even take PeeWee Herman over this dribble, at least he was stylistic and snappy. Now, if Tom Cruise would just come out, we could put an end to all this pathetic misrepresentation.

  • Justin

    @Ted B. (Charging Rhino): We architects, our daily grind anyway, are too lame for TV. They changed Ted’s occupation in HIMYM from practicing in a firm to unemployed to professor in part, i believe, because they exhausted the arch jokes. Not sure if you’ve seen it, but those older episodes actually captured it well, in a comedic silly way.

  • Kayak

    I for one thought it was funny and cute. I feel bad for Brandon Routh tho, he played frickin blockbuster cinema Superman and then his career went downhill fast.

  • Tompkins

    Max Mutchnick is a hack. This looks awful.

  • UsualPlayers

    This site has a surprising number of out work writers being jealous on it.

  • kirsde

    a friend’s sister-in-law makes $65 hourly on the laptop. She has been laid off for 6 months but last month her pay was $19426 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Go to this web site and read more N u TT y R I C h D o t c o m.


    well america has finally sorted its shit enough to portray as gay man as something other than a cringe worthy cliche, wow…. now if the hate crimes and institutionalised homophobia could get dealt with too..

  • Kristopher

    Does there have to be a laugh track? I can’t watch a comedy with a laugh track.

  • Chuck

    Look unfunny…

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