Two and a Half (Gay) Men: Sean Hayes returns to NBC and hits the mainstream asan out actor
Entertainment Weekly announced Monday that NBC is "near a deal" to sign former W&G scene stealer Sean Hayes to a new half-hour comedy about two gay men raising a 12-year-old together. So, essentially, Two and a Half Men with more Cher references and less pleated pants.
Well, maybe it's more like Cameron and Mitchell from Modern Family get their own show, but the kid's older.
(Or maybe they'll just scrap it all and cast Megan Mullally as the other half of the gay couple, and it'll be The Jack & Karen Show, like we all wanted...)
Essentially what I'm saying is: Hollywood has no new ideas, just new combinations of actors. And Emmy Award-winner Sean Hayes is one of those brilliant sitcom actors that can take a cheesy line and make it funny with his comedic timing. So I say, welcome back to the small screen, buddy. Why weren't you here in place of Outsourced when we needed you the most?
Luckily, the writing might also be decent, with talented vet Peter Tolan co-writing with veteran Hollywood producer Michael Wimer. You know Tolan from his seven-season run on FX's Rescue Me, but he also worked on The Larry Sanders Show and the timeless Murphy Brown. Tolan will also be an executive producer for Hayes' still-untitled show.
Even though it's not an entirely new idea, expect a fair amount of controversy when the commercials reach mainstream America. An impressionable youth living in the home of a happily partnered couple? Unacceptable! And a gay couple in an ensemble cast is one thing, but having a gay couple as the focus of the show? How will they ever think of enough pithy catiness to fill a full thirty minutes?
More importantly, now that Hayes is no longer denying his sexuality, the last big question is whether or not his partner in the show will be played by a gay man, as well. Having two out actors getting to play gay characters on a prime-time television show? THAT would actually be a step in a new direction.
Despite the close proximity between Hollywood and West Hollywood, the industry is still backwards in its treatment of gay men and women in film. The fear of audiences disbelieving that gay actors can play "convincing" straight characters — and thus those gay actors never working in the mainstream again — is enough to keep actors quiet, managers wary, and the door on what Michael Musto calls the glass closet tightly sealed.
It's tricky, because the 41-year-old Hayes is now stepping into his second major television role with that identity marker attached. On the one hand, it's wonderful that Hayes is telling a new story that much of America has not yet heard and working as an out gay actor. However, he's also playing the kind of hard-to-find role the suits predict he (and any other out gay actor) will be resigned to from here on out. Unless it's the obnoxious womanizer roles Neil Patrick Harris seems to land, which is another story altogether.
Until this still-unknown, still-unwritten, twinkle-in-its-creators'-eye NBC project can be seen as "another parenting sitcom," it will continue to register in audience's minds as "another gay sitcom." That's something we all have to work on.
In the meanwhile, we're glad you're back, Sean. We missed you.