Sean Hayes plays gay dad in new NBC sitcom

As the television networks announced their fall schedules during this week's upfronts, news was pretty mixed for TV's LGBT characters.

The good news first: Former "Will & Grace" star Sean Hayes is returning to NBC with a new sitcom bound to touch on gay issues.

In "Sean Saves the World," the openly gay Hayes stars as a divorced gay dad raising a teenage daughter (Sami Isler) with the aid of his overbearing mother (Linda Lavin). Judging by the trailer, the show will tread on conventional multi-camera sitcom ground, especially with that pushy laugh track. Still, it's nice to see Hayes step away from swishy stereotype Jack McFarland and offer a gay spin on the overplayed "can a single parent work, raise kids and generally have it all?" trope. The show is set to to air Thursdays on NBC, anchoring the network's long-standing comedy block.

That's an important vote of confidence from NBC, given the fate of the other gay characters to grace the channel's airwaves.

The sitcom slaughterhouse cut at least five shows featuring LGBT characters this year, including gay-focused "The New Normal" and musical drama "Smash". The situation wasn't much better on the other networks -- per Slate's count, 12 shows with gay or lesbian characters got the axe this season.

Here's Slate's full list: "The New Normal", "Go On", 'Smash', "The Office" and "1600 Penn", all on NBC; "Happy Endings" and "Don’t Trust the B--- in Apartment 23" on ABC; "90210", "The L.A. Complex" and "Emily Owens, M.D." on the CW; "Partners" on CBS; and "Southland" on TNT.

What do you think about the shows that were canceled? And are you excited about Sean Hayes' new role?

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