The hit sitcom Husbands released its second episode of season 2, “The Straightening,” last week, and today we’ve got an exclusive first look behind-the-scenes, featuring interviews with Jon Cryer, Mekhi Phifer, Brad Bell, Jane Espenson, Sean Hemeon, Alessandra Torresani, and director Jeff Greenstein!
In this behind-the-scenes video we get an insight into the production process of Husbands, as Espenson and Bell explain the social commentary and context of “The Straightening.”
The episode finds Cheeks (Brad Bell) and Brady (Sean Hemeon) essentially switching roles as they prepare for an interview, hosted by Two and a Half Men‘s Jon Cryer, who plays the Ryan Seacrest-ian character Vic Del Rey. The interview was intended to be damage control, after Cheeks’ “inappropriate” Instagramming – a simple snapshot of the smooching husbands – sparked outraged from the “Billion Moms” and generally jeopardized Brady’s public image as a heartland baseball hero.
“The Straightening” also marks the season 2 debut of Cheeks’ ever-intoxicated BFF Haley, played by Caprica‘s Alessandra Torresani. Haley presents a trainwreck of a mixed metaphor, albeit a compelling one, suggesting that a more conservative approach to self expression is a better strategy for mainstream acceptance and thus, long term social progress. Cheeks is sold. Butching it up for square America is the way to go.
Meanwhile, Brady’s ballplayer buddy Mark (White Collar actor Mekhi Phifer) draws a parallel between the bold activism of African American civil rights leaders (Rosa Parks refusing to get off the bus, for example) explaining that conformity will not foster change as quickly, bravely, or effectively as a radical “deal with it” attitude. “I get it!” Brady exclaims, ready to toss aside mores and not just push the envelope, but tear it open altogether.
The basic premise of Espenson and Bell’s Husbands follows the celebrity lives and tabloid aftermath following the drunk-nuptials of Cheeks and Brady. While the series is certainly a hilarious sitcom, it also delves much deeper. Husbands rejects, redefines, and embraces common stereotypes of homosexuality, and the depictions of homosexuality in various aspects of modern culture – from the demonized, to the fetishized.
The show’s refreshing spin, equal parts irreverent and passionate, isn’t afraid to use LGBT stereotypes and social taboos as vaudevillian fodder. Why? In the same way the characters regularly call out the sitcom cliches of their world (“If we weren’t gay, this would be a hackneyed premise!”), doing so is never just for laughs; it is done to support the show’s point of view. While the hackneyed premise line is funny, on further reflection, it also highlights the inequality of a society where accidental marriage between heterosexuals has become passé, but preaching from the pulpit about sanctity somehow has merit where gays are concerned. Husbands suggests that even if the paperwork were in place for civil rights, that wouldn’t bring about true social equality. Where does that even begin? That is the groundbreaking progressivism of Husbands.
The result is an instantly iconic couple, Cheeks and Brady. Though DNA fragments of Cheeks and Brady can be found in just about every traditional sitcom dating all the way back to I Love Lucy, they are wholly new characters when compared to any genre, even the most cutting edge alternative content. Husbands has created a couple with a a dynamic mixture of complexity, predictability, superficiality, vulnerability, fallibility, and universality. In short, humanity. These days, that kind of character development is hard to come by – gay, straight, or otherwise.
As as Bell explains in the video, the scene in which Cheeks is withholding sex from Brady is not only funny, it also makes a point that on television, gays aren’t allowed to be sexy, but in this show that’s exactly what they are.
Watch the second episode here, which also featured special guests John Hodgman, Aasha Davis, Magda Apanowicz and Joss Whedon:
Fans of Whedon’s shows have an extra reason to tune in: aside from the man himself, this season’s guest star roster brags names like Amber Benson, Emma Caulfield and Dichen Lachman.
Catch up on the first season of the show here, and tell us what you think about Husbands!
And if (like us!) you just can’t get enough of this show, Dark Horse Comics has announced that there’ll also be a comic book soon, which takes the concept even further as Cheeks and Brady embark on a hilarious adventure.