Coarse humor in old-fashioned laugh-track sitcom.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

No one takes anything seriously in this sitcom-compliant world -- not love, not marriage, not work.

Positive role models

The cast boasts racial diversity. However, none of the characters seems real; they're all simply sitcom characters delivering gags.

Not applicable

Innuendo and jokes about sex, such as a woman saying, "Do I look like I'm standing on a street corner about to get into an Impala?" One subplot concerns a priest having an affair with a married woman; there are references to the couple practicing bondage with rosary beads. Later, a character calls the priest the "one straight priest in Chicago." Then follows references to a "second coming" and missionary position.


Frequent cursing such as "Your life is going to hell" and "Your father fired your ass." Other vulgar language includes a man saying his ex-wife has his "balls hanging from her rearview mirror."


Specific brands are mentioned, such as American Girl dolls and Xanax.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A man jokes about drinking every day to deal with the pressures of being a waiter at a restaurant for children. Another makes a joke about taking prescription medications.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Partners is an adult-oriented sitcom with lots of innuendo and other sexual humor, including a character discovering his wife is having sex with a priest and using religious objects as sex toys. There are jokes about prescription drugs, cross-dressing, religion, bestiality, emasculation, and prostitution. Characters mock each other relentlessly and say they don't like each other; even those who profess to love each other don't treat one another kindly. Characters act in a stereotypical fashion; there are many jokes about one character being a "trophy wife." All that said, the cast has considerable charm, and there are some funny quips. Still, not many parents are likely to appreciate their kids hearing them. 

What's the story?

After being ejected from the family law firm, Allen Braddock (Kelsey Grammer) is looking for a soft place to land. He finds it in the firm headed by for-the-people lawyer Marcus Jackson (Martin Lawrence), where together the two become unlikely PARTNERS, thanks to an unorthodox court sanction. The state of Illinois is hoping Jackson's ethics will rub off on Braddock. Instead, the two start to work together to create their own brand of legal justice, with Braddock's nose for big-money cases meeting Jackson's weakness for a hard-luck story.

Is it any good?


How annoying this near-miss is to watch, stuffed as it is with charming, compelling actors with great comic timing plus not-bad cracks from the writers.

The problem is primarily in the pacing, which is so go-go-go that it leaves little time to let a joke land -- already the actor is launching onto another line, even before the uproarious laugh-track chuckles that greet every gag have died out. Whew! Add to that TV-style hijinks such as scenes in which Jackson and Braddock sneak into a priest's bedroom in a rectory and go to meet a gay wedding planner, and what you've got is something that looks for all the world like it'd be funny -- but just isn't.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why the legal profession is such an enduring setting for television comedies and dramas. How many can you name? How are they like Partners? How are they different?

  • Have you seen any of the actors in Partners in any other shows? Does that affect how you view their characters here? Does it make you like them more or less? Laugh at their jokes more or less?

  • Which of the characters on Partners is the audience supposed to relate to? How can you tell? What about their portrayals seems sympathetic to you?

TV details

Cast:Kelsey Grammer, Martin Lawrence, Telma Hopkins
TV rating:TV-14

This review of Partners was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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