Partners

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Partners TV Poster Image
Broad sitcom about gay/straight buddies uses stereotypes.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Intimate male friendships are rare on television, and this one is portrayed positively. The characters care about each other and spend time on-screen worrying about the right thing to do and the proper way to treat friends.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though Joe and Louis often mock each other, they're supportive and close. All of the leads on Partners have professional careers they seem to enjoy and do well, and viewers see them at work, getting things done.

Violence

At one point Louis jokingly threatens to kill himself after making a mistake.

Sex

Expect kissing and other displays of affection from couples both gay and straight, plus casual references to unmarried couples having sex. There's some innuendo and sexual language, as when Louis talks about when he and Joe were both 12 and Louis would tell him "which girls were getting boobs."

Language

Some cursing or racy language: "ass," "boobs."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some references to drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Partners is an innuendo-filled sitcom about two thirtysomething male friends, one gay, one straight, who run a successful architecture firm together. The innuendo comprises both gay and straight sexual humor. There are also references to drinking (Louis says about himself that "girlfriend likes her liquor") and racial quips, as when Louis tells his (Latina) secretary that the way she's "presented her bosom" today will make "Bernardo the envy of every Shark at the rumble." Viewers will also notice the close and supportive friendship between the two men -- uncommon for TV.

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What's the story?

Based on the real-life friendship between Will & Grace creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, the PARTNERS in this CBS sitcom's title are Joe (David Krumholtz of Numb3rs) and Louis (Michael Urie, Ugly Betty). The duo, buddies since grade school, now run a successful architecture firm and an equally successful friendship, despite the fact that Joe is engaged to Ali (Sophia Bush), while Louis' main squeeze is Wyatt (Brandon Routh). Joe and Louis may squabble and have comic misunderstandings, but at the end of the day, says Ali over dinner with Joe, Louis, and Wyatt, "There are four people at this table, and three couples."

Is it any good?

While canned laughter is rarely welcome, it's even more oddly intrusive than usual in Partners. Did the producers happen to hire some weird laughers for this gig? What it comes down to is that, if we're noticing the laughtrack, it's because we're not laughing ourselves. Though every single one of the lead actors in Partners has great charm, and Urie and Krumholtz have chemistry that's by turns comedically zingy and sweet, this material is so predictable it's annoying. Not only are there tired gay-stereotype jokes aplenty (adolescent Joe vows he'll marry Alyssa Milano, while Louis claims his future wife is Bette Midler), there are sitcom-y plot drivers, such as when Louis blitzkriegs Joe and Ali's engagement by revealing that Joe originally intended to dump her before he went ahead and proposed. Why don't characters on sitcoms just talk to each other like real people so there are no Big Misunderstandings? Oh yeah, because that would spoil the joke.

In addition, though the dialogue has a quip/counterquip quality similar to that on the funnier Will & Grace, the pop culture references are curiously dated: Clay Aiken, "raise the roof," Britney Spears? Did Kohan and Mutchnick's pop-culture consciousness get frozen in amber sometime in the early 2000s? All that said, the cast's natural likability makes the show not a complete disaster; fun-to-watch Urie even stirs some occasional actual laughs. Put better lines in this guy's mouth! He's ready for them.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why a gay/straight friendship is unusual enough to serve as the basis for a comedy. Do you know any friends like Joe and Louis? How are they alike the male leads on Partners? How are they different?

  • On Partners, Louis is sometimes given lines that play into gay stereotypes. Is it funny to imply that gay men are fastidious, snobbish, and frivolous?

  • The leads on Partners all have professions that are interesting to show on television: architects, a nurse, a jewelry designer. Why don't we see more shows with characters who work in offices, dealing with computers and paperwork? How many people do you know with jobs that would look good on television?

TV details

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