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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