CW Seed’s HUSBANDS Celebrates Gay Marriage
As members of the LGBTQ community and their allies from all over the state of Illinois travel to Springfield today for the March for Equality, I can’t help but think of the many committed gay couples that serve as role models and pioneers for the cause. From the amazing Alexandra and Chrisanne, Bill and Chris, Rob and Doug in my real life to Cameron and Mitchell (Modern Family) and Ben and Michael (Queer as Folk) in popular culture, these couples have served as an inspiration to me and countless others in the LGBTQ community for what a committed relationship can be.
My current favorite gay couple in entertainment media is Cheeks and Brady of the cult classic series Husbands. The series brings same-sex marriage to the forefront as it centers around two out celebrities who wake up married after a drunken night of celebration during a similar march for marriage equality in Las Vegas. The hilarious foibles that follow serve as a testament to love and devotion in a time of disposable celebrity weddings played out before the paparazzi. During my recent trip to New York Comic Con I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with series creator and star Brad Bell, series co-creator Jane Espenson, and co-star Sean Hemeon about the series:
Danny Bernardo (DB) – What I love so much about this series is that these characters aren’t the average cookie cutter gays we see portrayed in the media so often. Was that intentional?
Brad Bell (BB): I think [other portrayals of gays in the media make] an attempt to play it safe because they’re doing “edgy content.” And so it’s like if “we reign it in, make it family friendly… ” which isn’t to say our content is salacious, we’re not Queer As Folk. And I know HBO is producing something similar with Looking, but that wasn’t something we were interested in. We wanted to tell a love story but we didn’t want to make the focus about kids or make the gay people a part of an ensemble so that straight people felt comfortable watching it. We wanted to tell something that was authentic to the gay experience but was also about romantic monogamy.
Jane Espenson (JE): And it ended up that the straight people were comfortable watching it so bonus!
DB: Another thing I love about the series is how it challenges gay perceptions of masculinity.
BB:Yeah, I mean obviously the Cheeks character does that in his own way through femininity. Why can’t a man be feminine, why is masculinity the perceived stronger of the two? And just because you are butch or have that demeanor, does that make you a man? Or what is that? Does the ability to fix things make you a man or is it honesty that makes you a man? What is that? This is just another way to explore that through two different lenses.
JE: Brad won an award recently and in his acceptance speech he said something about people see femininity as a weakness but that his strength came from femininity and that’s the most beautiful thing I heard said about it.
Sean Hemeon (SH): I think that feminine energy is much more powerful than masculine energy anyway. Way more powerful.
BB: And I think that’s why so many gay men relate to so many women as gay icons. You’ve got Madonna, you’ve got Cher, you’ve got Cleopatra. It’s because they are feminine but completely in control. They are rulers, they are queens, they are divas. And I think that there are plenty of gay men that relate to that, particularly because women in society are perceived as the “weaker sex” and it’s surprising that a woman is in control. I think it’s because historically we don’t have icons that are bottoms on top.
DB: The latest episode (I Dream of Cleaning) was hilarious and I just kept thinking while watching it, “If Brady had played for the Tropicana Club, Cheeks would be begging to be in the show.” What iconic sitcom couples inspired you guys as you wrote Brady and Cheeks?
BB: All of them. Lucy and Ricky are certainly one of them. Rob and Laura Petry. Sam and Darrin.
JE:There are parts in there where you can see Brad being Mary Tyler Moore and also a really interesting part where you can see him channeling Jennifer Aniston. Unintentionally actually.
DB: You were born to be an ingénue!
BB (laughs) It’s ridiculous!
DB: I’d pay good money to see a Cheeks rom-com on the big screen.Speaking of which, the series has taken on another life, in comic book form with Dark Horse Comics. What inspired that?
BB: At the time we didn’t know if we were going to continue the show and so we wanted to keep telling the story and wanted to keep playing with tropes, so we thought about doing a comic book because Jane had done the Buffy comic with Dark Horse. We thought, “That sounds like fun,” so we went to Dark Horse and they said, “Cool!” Like we made the series inspired by sitcom icons, we did the same thing with the comic books. And ask a bunch of the same questions about relationships or gender role.
DB: How’d it feel to see yourselves drawn as comics?
SH: It was awesome! It was six different artists and how they captured it, like, “Wow! I make that face!” The Sci-Fi, where we’re in space was my favorite. And the Sherlock one, maybe because they were the most realistic? But they were kinda all my favorite because it was cool to see myself as an Archie character too. It’s very hard to pick, there was something that I loved about all of them.
JE: It was very fun to see those drawings come in.
DB: Can there be a Billy (the gay slayer from Buffy) and Cheeks cross over? (the group laughs) Just kidding.
JE:I don’t know if has to be “just kidding,” though. Andrew does wear a Husbands t-shirt in one issue of the Buffy comics, so clearly Andrew is a fan.
DB: So fictional geeks love Husbands. What’s the reception been like for the series at comic cons?
JE: Overwhelmingly positive.
BB:Yesterday we had a signing with Dark Horse and the whole time the line didn’t stop! And people stood and waited in line, which I thought, was crazy! I thought, “Maybe if there’s not a line, people will wander by.” And I mean, they were there and lined up for the hour and every single one of them had a book and really empathic. People brought their own pictures that they printed out at home that they wanted us to sign. It was really cool because it seems to get more and more intense.
JE: And people are getting more and more focused on Husbands. It used to be the signings were mostly people who were there to get a Buffy book signed and then take a Husbandspicture because we had them. But apparently they took those Husbands pictures home and went to the website and watched the show because now they are there forHusbands and not as a secondary thing to Buffy which is really gratifiying because we set out to make this shine and stand on its own and now it does.
You can find the first two seasons of Husbands on YouTube (now available internationally) and the current season on CW Seed.
The Husbands comic book can be bought in single issues and as a collected edition (both digital and print) on the Dark Horse website.
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“Husbands” - By Brad Bell & Jane Espenson
Formats: Web Sitcom & Graphic Novel
Official Website: http://husbandstheseries.com/
Official Tumblr: http://lovehusbands.com/
SEASON 3 PRESENTED BY THE CW Via CW SEED