Tonight is the premiere of CBS’s “Partners,” a sitcom about the relationship between a straight guy and his best bud, who so happens to be gay. The plot attempts to compare and contrast–in a comedic fashion–the relationships of heterosexuals and homosexuals, and, on another level, to delve in to how, exactly, it is possible for a straight male to have a bromance with a gay one. The series stars Sophia Bush and Brandon Routh, who are fairly recognizable names–with Bush having had a major role through most of “One Tree Hill’s” overlong run and Routh having starred in the franchise-reboot-hopeful-that-never-was, “Superman Returns.”
So far, early reviews for the show are not so shining, but the viewers’ verdict won’t surface until well after the show’s premiere tonight at 8:30 p.m. EST.
The bigger question, however, is how the show will fare in comparison to its critically-acclaimed cousin, ABC’s ratings darling “Modern Family” (which has been an Emmy winner on many fronts for several years now), and to its freshman rival, NBC’s “The New Normal,” which has had respectable reviews but lukewarm ratings numbers so far. “Modern Family” works incredibly well because it takes that which is taboo (gay couples with kids, married cougars, interracial couples, etc.) and puts a “normal” spin on it–allowing audience members to see first-hand that all types of families suffer through the same dysfunctional situations and put up with the same quirky individuals. It also never offends or pushes the envelope too far–allowing the more traditional viewers to find charm and often wholesome humor in it and the more liberal viewers to take pleasure in its quietly progressive agenda. “The New Normal,” on the other hand, is unforgivingly funny and jaw-droppingly offensive. The show takes “gay” and puts it front and center, forcing viewers of all types to face the ugly truths not only about homophobia, but about racism, biggotry, and that which is unconventional. But, it’s Ryan Murphy (who’s so hot right now he ought to be followed around with a fire extinguisher), and that means he has the incredible ability to tug at the heartstrings (shown on numerous occasions during “Glee”). Both shows aim to tell the same message–that being different is more than okay–but they each do so through different means.
“Partners” does, indeed, offer something fresh. The gay-straight bromance idea has yet to be explored much on television, and it’s probably more mundane right now than a gay couple trying to have a baby via a surrogate mother (ala “The New Normal”). But, if the show’s humor isn’t biting enough (as is “The New Normal’s”) or if its script doesn’t seem realistic and relatable (as does “Modern Family’s”), the show may struggle to find a solid audience, even if it runs on a totally different network and a totally different night than the other two. In the end, it could hold the perfect balance between the two, but one still wonders how much “gay” Primetime can take. “Modern Family” has worked hard to earn its respectable audience, and “The New Normal” beat “Partners” out of the gate earlier this Fall season (tomorrow night will be its fourth episode). Are there enough people willing to give “Partners” a chance to make them laugh as well? That remains to be seen…
Will you be tuning in to “Partners?” What do you think of “The New Normal?” Why do you think “Modern Family” has become such a hit? Why do you think there is such a focus on gays in comedy right now, as opposed to drama?