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Please Don’t Watch FX’s ‘Partners’

I’m the first person to admit that I was excited about Partners. It didn’t exactly sound promising, but it did promise the silly-enough-to-work pairing of Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence. Both actors are sitcom veterans, both are very funny, and both appear to be such opposites that it feels oddly perfect to pair them up in a buddy comedy. The show was ordered on the 10/90 model: If enough people watch 10 episodes, FX will automatically give the show 90 more. With that in mind, I’m begging you: Please don’t watch Partners when it premieres on Monday. Please don’t allow FX to produce 100 episodes of this awful mess. The world has more than enough terribleness in it already.

Partners, if you must know, focuses on two lawyers who are polar opposites: pretentious, high-end Allen (Kelsey Grammer) and “ethics driven” Marcus (Martin Lawrence), who form an unlikely partnership. Hilarity would ensue if the writers knew what hilarity meant. If you want to get an idea of precisely what variety of shitty this show is, look no further than the official description from FX: “Partners is a smart, edgy legal comedy highlighting the cultural contrast between the haves, the have-nots, and the ‘Aww, Hell-No’s’.”

Partners is neither smart nor edgy. It says nothing about cultural contrasts — at one point, Allen reassures Marcus that he had a black best friend growing up; what he means is, he had a black Labrador. The show is not even a comedy, no matter how much the piped-in audience laughter tries to persuade us otherwise.

The pilot episode establishes the two lawyers’ downhill life trajectories: Allen has been fired from his father’s law firm; Marcus just got divorced from his wife. Super-nice, sad-sack Marcus lives with his mother and is letting his ex-wife’s lawyer walk all over him. Allen steps in, for no real reason, and helps prove that Marcus’ ex-wife has been sleeping with a priest. (I know you’re wondering, so yes, there are jokes about missionary position and second comings.) It’s just a roundabout way of forcing these two to work together so they can ultimately become law-firm partners.

BJ_1005_1026The only other episode sent out to critics centers on a gay wedding — ahem, a “gwedding,” as the show oh-so-cleverly puts it — and the evil wedding planner who duped the newly married couple. If you’ve ever seen any television show, then you already know what’s coming: Allen and Marcus pose as a gay couple planning their wedding. Glad they got the “pretend to be gay” storyline out by the second episode — I was expecting it to occur during sweeps week. At one point, Allen says, “You’re making a Brokeback Mountain out of a mole hill.” It is not the only Brokeback Mountain reference in the episode.

A b-plot involves Allen’s daughter hanging out with Marcus’ mother; a friend of mine acutely observed that Partners is basically a show about white people getting the sassy black friends they’ve always wanted.

The sad part is, Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence are both funny, talented actors who are stuck in this ongoing, horrid MadTV sketch filled with “edgy” jokes that, at worst, make you cringe and, at best, put you to sleep. They both play the equivalent of stepdads struggling to be cool, the kind of guys who blast The Offspring while picking up their new children from school, trying desperately to gain a surly teen’s approval. It’s embarrassing for everyone involved: the writers, the cast, the network, and the viewers.

FX/FXX has a history of creating wonderful comedies (The LeagueIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and recently premiered two unique and great sitcoms (You’re The Worst and Married), so I can’t imagine what the hell the network was thinking with this one. It has star power, sure, and I assume it’s relatively cheap to make, but is that really worth it? I doubt Partners will ever rise to a watchable level, let alone ever become good. Please, don’t let them make 100 episodes.

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4 comments
AdamKellar
AdamKellar

How about you just let people watch what they want to watch, how about instead of forcing your own opinions down other's throat you just let it go. I see a lot off mixed reviews about this show but guess what, I enjoy the show. It's witty, funny and just downright awesome to see a couple of very good actors be funny in a half an hour show every week. IT'S A HALF AN HOUR, LET IT GO. It's not going to kill you, so why make a long, really long, stupid article begging people not to watch it. That is just asinine and really bad taste. So in conclusion, the article was pointless, I can't wait for the second 10/90 and SEE I CAN HAVE OPINIONS TOO YAY!

shimauma
shimauma

this review was Spot On. Please someone smother this show before it gets out of bed.

AnotherDem
AnotherDem

I watched the first two episodes and completely regret it. It was really bad. I'm not sure words can express just how bad it truly was. Lawrence seemed to be high on something and Grammar had a hard time trying to save it even with the truly terrible writing.

Sparky
Sparky

Um, with Grammar and Lawrence, I doubt it was 'relatively cheap to make', even if they do probably both own a share of the show in lieu of salary.


A lot of great sitcoms start out badly.  Ever see the first episode of the classic 'The Bob Newhart Show'?  His wife Emily is a simpering idiot desperate to become a housewife with kids, and as the series developed she became the married equivalent of Mary Tyler Moore, a happy, confident childless woman with a career. 


Even the pilot episode of 'I Love Lucy' is pretty rotten; the characters don't settle into the people we know and love until the middle of the first season.


I haven't seen Partners, but these are two good actors, and I'd like to see where they can take the show. 

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