'Ben and Kate,' 'Partners' are autobiographical sitcoms

Nat Faxon, left, as Ben, and Dakota Johnson,

Nat Faxon, left, as Ben, and Dakota Johnson, as Kate, in a scene from "Ben and Kate." Photo Credit: AP

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Got a goofy older brother? Parents you still live with, even though you're grown up? An unconventional friendship? If so, you're too late to turn those ideas into a hit sitcom.

But while you comb your life for something else to fuel a comedy that a network will love, consider three fall sitcoms spawned from the personal lives of their creators.

CBS' "Partners" explores the lifelong friendship of Louis, who's gay, and Joe, who's straight, as they navigate their architecture business and their respective romantic ties. Their best-friends dynamic is inspired by the friendship of Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, who met in high school and, after partnering as TV producers, co-created shows including the megahit "Will & Grace." There's no attempt to hide the lineage of Fox's "Ben and Kate." It's the tale of a freewheeling brother, Ben, who comes back into the life of his single-mother younger sister, Kate, to serve as a surrogate dad while continuing his lifelong role as a mischievous child. The show is based on the relationship of its creator, Dana Fox, with her big brother, whose name is, yes, Ben.

Meanwhile, ABC's "How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life" finds a young mom from a broken marriage seeking refuge at her parents' home with her young daughter. It was drawn from the domestic situation of creator Claudia Lonow, who, well into adulthood and despite career success (including producing the sitcom "Less Than Perfect"), continues to live with parents she describes as "charismatic," "super entertaining" and "very weird." "I've been living there for 15 years, and I've been (developing) the show for about 12," Lonow told reporters last week at the TV critics' press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Like Polly (played by Sarah Chalke), who descends on TV parents Brad Garrett and Elizabeth Perkins, "I did show up at their doorstep and say, 'I hope this isn't a bad time for you, because it is for me.' "They reacted like any loving mother and stepfather would," Lenow recalled, and took her and her daughter in.

"We slept in the weight room on a cot for a while. And then, when it was time for my daughter to go to grammar school, I bought a house with them. I know it was crazy," she said with a laugh. "It's like there should be a show about it!"

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Dana Fox has been gathering material for "Ben and Kate" since the cradle, thanks to her brother, Ben, who's two years her senior.

She describes him as a "Ferris Bueller-type guy . . . a really, really smart guy who intentionally does incredibly dumb things that would get us into so much trouble.

"He doesn't think a lot before he jumps," she said, "but he usually has a totally bizarre logic to all of his behavior."

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