If the premise of Partners—two friends: one gay, one straight—sounds familiar, that may be because creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick brought us a similar tale with Will & Grace. This time around they mine their own relationship as old friends and working partners in an attempt at comedy that falls horribly flat.
Joe (David Krumholtz) and Louis (Michael Urie) are partners in an architectural firm and have been friends since childhood. The (outdated) hook: Joe is straight and Louis is gay. Both fellas are in committed relationships. Joe is seeing jewelry designer, Ali (Sophia Bush) and Louis is living with nurse Wyatt (Brandon Routh). The attempts at comedy hi-jinks stem from Louis's extreme narcissism and intense need to insert himself into Joe's life decisions. The pilot finds Joe mulling a break-up with his girlfriend after she talks about getting married. Things get needlessly complicated when Joe makes a sudden gut decision about his future with Ali, rather than following the advice Louis has given him.
Partners would be a harmlessly unfunny comedy were it not for the extremely grating behavior of Louis. He's so selfish, so rude and so unbelievably insensitive that it's hard to care about people that would continue to allow this man in their lives. One repeated "joke" finds Louis constantly talking up that Wyatt's a doctor, despite the fact that he's a nurse. When Wyatt calls him on this, Louis freely admits that he's ashamed of his boyfriend's profession. That's not funny, it's just mean. This horrendous character makes Partners less a comedy than an uncomfortable portrait of a hopeless narcissist destroying the lives of those around him.
Unfortunately, Kohan and Mutchnick seem endlessly amused with Louis, making him the focal point of all of the comedy. Krumholtz, Bush and Routh—all talented performers—serve as little more than window dressing for Louis's showboating. Routh, in particular, is horribly wasted as a non-emotive dimwit, never getting a chance to show off his comedy chops.
CBS's only new comedy this season, Partners is an infuriating sitcom that's painfully unfunny.
Partners airs Mondays at 7:30pm on CBS.