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‘Husbands’ shows real gay marriage

September 8, 2012

This is my first commentary/review of a web series. That’s right, I have finally entered the 21st century. Watch out 22nd century, I’m coming for you.

Husbands started its second season in August. The show is a comedy about two gay men who unexpectedly get married in Vegas, made possible by a new federal equality amendment. Wholesome beginnings. One of them, Brady, is a baseball star with the Dodgers, the other is an actor named Cheeks. Cheeks is flamboyant and totally out there (could you guess from his name?). Brady only came out a year ago and is more pragmatic and reserved.

They decide to stay together for the cause, not wanting to undermine the whole movement over their drunken asses. But here’s the second catch – they’ve only been dating for six weeks. Whuuuuuck? I have a feeling things are going to get craaaazy up in here.

Husbands Series Premiere

Season 2 opens with Brady asking Cheeks to tone down the gay because his over-the-top tendencies could jeopardize Brady’s career. “This is not children’s filth!” screams one of those million moms on television after Cheeks tweet-insta-pins a photo of the two. Cheeks argues that he is being himself:

I’ve spent so many years branding myself as someone who embraces stereotypes because disregarding society in favor of one’s authenticity is a very important step towards self-love and personal empowerment.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that Cheeks’s personality is truly authentic and I question if it’s fueled in part by celebrity culture, where people flaunt themselves all over the place – men, women, gay, straight. It comes off as vain and immature, and not very amusing. On the flipside; however, having to pretend to be someone you’re not isn’t an option either. Brady can be so inconsiderate, God.

This points to one of strengths of the writing and character development on Husbands. Viewers can see both sides of the conflict and understand where both Brady and Cheeks are coming from in their struggles to make their relationship work on a personal level and while under the scrutiny of the public.

Husbands season 2

They are in love? Brad Bell on top (had to be said) and Sean Hemeon.

The main qualm I have with Husbands is the rather uninspired story lines. Besides the newish-for-television element of a gay couple, the rest of the show is pretty formulaic. The jokes and scenarios are standard couples buffoonery, personality clashes – pretty basic new relationship material – which is fine, it’s just kind of been there, done that.

I’ve never been a fan of opposites attract couples comedy. Maybe that’s why I like the dynamics on Modern Family – gay and straight (although I don’t see how both wives being stay-at-home moms is very modern). To stick with the gay theme, take Cam and Mitchell. They have the same power struggles and personality clashes as Brady and Cheeks, but the humor goes beyond that. Things happen outside of their differing methods of self-expression. Maybe it’s celebrity couple versus regular people couple. Or maybe it’s because show creators Brad Bell and Jane Espenson chose to have Husbands solely focused on the dynamics of being an out, gay, celebrity couple, when their livelihood depends on their public image. Regardless, I’m not much for pillow talk.

What Modern Family doesn’t have, which Husbands has in spades, is real displays of affection. The husbands on Husbands kiss a lot. Cam and Mitchell hug each other the way they would their grandmothers – and that’s all they do. Brady and Cheeks’s relationship is not network TV gay marriage. These guys kiss, touch each other – you know, that stuff people in love are wont to do.

I definitely give Husbands points for bravery and delivery style. Putting this on the web instead of shopping it around to cable networks only to have it inevitably watered down was a smart move. And the short, snappy episodes are a perfect length for web viewers. The episodes in season one are Super Bowl commercial length. It’s a good tactic to hook a web audience and it works with the pacing of the story.

Behind the Scenes – Season 2, Episode 1

So, in closing, do I think Husbands is comedy gold? Not exactly. There are some memorable lines and genuinely funny moments, but the rest of the humor is pretty unremarkable. Is the show groundbreaking? Sure. It goes farther in pushing same-sex marriage into the mainstream than any show on television has ever attempted – or has and has been shot down. So I say you go, Husbands, go be your funny(ish), gay self, and don’t ever change. Well maybe just a little. Sometimes change is good.

Husbands Season 2, Episode 2

Related links:

Jane Espenson and Brad Bell Talk “Husbands,” and Their Online Journey to Sitcom Success | Hollywonk

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2012 11:35 am

    Brady is adorable. I really like the super short episodes. It gives you a taste of things without getting too heavy into the characters right upfront. An it’s perfect for a webisode. I will be watching more. I do agree that it’s not the funniest and the humor isn’t anything original but it is nice to see it used in a different couple dynaminc. And yes, Mitchel and Cam should kiss more! I guess network tv hasn’t moved past the infamous Will and Jack kiss on WAG.

    • September 8, 2012 11:54 am

      They play up the adorableness in subsequent episodes too. It will be interesting to see if Husbands and other gay-focused shows on the web have any influence on television portrayals. The New Normal and Partners will be the latest crop on network TV this season.

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