TV Review - Partners (2012)

David Krumholtz (left)
and Michael Urie in "Partners"
David Kohan who is straight and Max Mutchnick who is gay have made a sitcom about Joe who is straight and his childhood friend Louis who is gay. Yes, another example of art imitating life. Kohan and Mutchnick were the creators of NBC's Will & Grace and this show feels very much like that one. The characters are different but the dynamics and energy are similar if not the same. Joe and Louis are architects and a lot of their interactions take place in the office but most of their conversations, if not all, have centered on Joe's pending nuptials to Ali, played by Sophia Bush, whose job I haven't determined.

David Krumholtz (Numb3rs) plays Joe. He's low-key, an average guy. Michael Urie (Ugly Betty) is the obvious and almost stereotypical homosexual. He's loud and flamboyant, almost the way Sean Hayes in Will &Grace was but amplified a bit. In fact, Krumholtz seems low key only by comparison. Urie is so over-the-top. It's a wonder how their characters get any work done being that Louis is constantly asking about Joe's relationship with Ali and Louis is constantly interfering, thinking he's being helpful and honest.

Louis is actually annoying. He might be too annoying for some. There's always a character like this in most sitcoms. It becomes a problem when that character is the protagonist because then the audience is stuck. When it's a supporting character, like with Hayes, damage can be minimized. Louis is always full-on. He might be insufferable. However, he does generate most of the laughs.

There hasn't been much, not even much of a shorthand that explains these relationships, these partnerships, and why they've lasted as long as they have. I don't mean that between just Joe and Louis or even Joe and Ali, but that between Louis and his boyfriend, Wyatt, played by Brandon Routh. Wyatt is a nurse whom Louis wishes were a doctor. Wyatt is really into exercise and healthy eating. He looks gorgeous, which would explain Louis' attraction, but Wyatt is an idiot. He's sweet and lovable, but he's rather stupid. Louis is smart and quick-witted and interested in things that seem to put him on a planet separate from Wyatt, so it's unclear what glue holds them together.

It's not like I need the entire back story up front, but there's hardly any hint of it in the first three episodes. Not to come down on Louis and Wyatt, their gay relationship is more problematic than the couple in The New Normal, which drew criticism for perpetuating negative gay stereotypes. I haven't heard the same level of complaints, if any at all, about Partners, but the gay clich├ęs don't come from an ignorant or denigrating place. You either laugh them off or you don't.

In addition to some good one-liners, the show does portray a friendship between a gay man and a straight man, which I don't think has been done before on network television, at least not as the main focus or as the premise to a show. Kohan and Mutchnick are perhaps aware of this, but they've chosen not to make an issue out of it, at least not so far. This could or could not be advantageous. By not making it an issue, they attack whatever leftover homophobia might persist on keeping straight men from having gay men as best friends, leading by example only.

Many opportunities to explore the issue are missed, but this could be just another step in normalizing gay-straight alliances between two guys, a phenomenon that hopefully people accept because it's long existed.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14-DL.
Running Time: 30 mins.
Airs Mondays at 8:30PM on CBS.

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