Written by Allison Lips
In Sean Saves the World, Sean Hayes doesn’t save anything. He barely has control of his own life, a precarious balance between work and single fatherhood, even though the situations his finds himself in are as predictable as the show’s comedy.
The show starts with Sean making a sandwich. The problem is one piece won’t come out of the toaster, so he takes a knife and flicks it across the room. Unless you’ve never seen a family sitcom, you see this coming from the moment Sean picks up the knife and heads toward the toaster. It’s been done a million times. It’s tired, old, and unoriginal.
Sean is a gay single father, who lives with his daughter Ellie (Samantha Isler) for the first time since he divorced her mother. He’s overbearing, but doesn’t mean to be. By his own admission, Sean has no clue on how to be a full time parent. All he wants to do is bond with his teenage daughter. See, before Ellie’s mother decided to move for her job and allow Ellie to stay behind, Sean only saw his daughter on weekends.
On a weekday morning, Sean wants to give Ellie a pep talk for school. Naturally, she is uninterested. In any other sitcom, she would’ve grabbed her lunch, said “Bye Dad,” and ran out of the house. Instead, Sean babbles until he lands on boys and sets himself up for the phrase “you’re a smart, strong, young girl, so screw boys.” This joke might have been funnier had had NBC not replayed it ad nauseum, but it isn’t exactly the cleverest either.
When Sean isn’t with his daughter, he’s at work. His boss, Max (Thomas Lennon), only cares about making his employees miserable. He’s not Lou Grant. Max is Hitler. Everything from his disregard for his employees, to his super straight posture, to his blunt speech pattern and terrible mustache, which the producers had enough taste not to make a toothbrush mustache, appears to be inspired by the Führer.
Max is such a terrible person that he announces everyone will have to work late every day, not because he needs them to put in overtime, but because he likes ruining people’s lives. Of course, Sean promised his daughter dinner, so this leads to Sean trying to escape from work through the bathroom window. It’s supposed to be a funny. While it is a pretty elaborate scene anyone who’s ever caught an I Love Lucy rerun could predict the every gag in this scene over and over again.
Sean’s friends and co-workers Liz (Megan Hilty) and Hunter (Echo Kellum) only appear at work. Despite being different sexes, Liz and Hunter’s personalities blend together. Both are loyal to Sean, will help him with anything, and complain how they wish Max wasn’t their boss. Other than that, they aren’t noteworthy and have very little character development, a fate shared with Sean’s mother, Lorna (Linda Lavin). Lorna wants to be way too involved in her son’s life when he doesn’t need her, but is only interested in getting laid when Sean actually needs her.
Sean Saves the World uses every sitcom cliché, which makes for a boring show. Having a single gay father is a premise — it’s not the show-sustaining gimmick the show’s writers think it is. Hopefully, the second episode is a drastic improvement. Otherwise, Sean Saves the World will be replaced midseason.