Sean Saves the World premieres tonight at 9/8CT on NBC

Will & Grace’s Sean Hayes is back as a gay guy with comical family, friend and workplace issues in Sean Saves the World, which premieres tonight  on NBC. But this time, instead of acting like a child, a la Jack McFarland, he has one. And instead of Rosario to mother him, he has an actual mother played by actress Linda Lavin, a ’70s comedy trendsetter herself as singing waitress Alice. But the laughs are signature Hayes.

sean saves the world cast

Hayes says his groundbreaking former series helped pave the way for this throughly modern family sitcom in which he stars as a single dad trying to balance his work life, home life and love life when his teen daughter from a short-lived heterosexual marriage moves in full time.

“I think, thankfully, [being gay] is an afterthought like any minority now,” Hayes told reporters at a July press conference. “It’s normal to everybody — which is how it should be.”

The onscreen Sean has help in the struggle from his opinionated mom, Lorna (Lavin) and longtime bestie, Liz (Hayes’ recent Smash costar Megan Hilty) — and yes, he’ll be looking for a romantic partner, too. Lavin, who seems to have aged little since her Alice days, says she relishes the chance to play a thoroughly modern mom and grandma, too.

“I’m playing a character, a mother, who is not the butt of the joke, who is not a simpleton or a joke herself, who has something to say, who is hopefully going to be attractive and smart and challenging and has this relationship.”

Sean Saves the World airs Thursday nights at 9/8CT on NBC. 

Photo: ©2013 NBCUniversal Media, LLC. Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

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Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.