The Brains Behind Husbands

Creators Jane Espenson and Brad Bell talk archetypes, identity, and honorary lesbians.



At left: Bell and Sean Hemeon


The combination of the two as a couple: the masculine and the feminine. I mean, for example, Jack and Will on Will & Grace certainly had that dynamic, even if they weren’t a couple on the show.
Bell: I think that for one thing it’s an interesting narrative choice. You don’t want two people that are so similar that they’re not interesting in their dynamic. You want different bits where you have the odd couple. I also think that my intention behind making the two different ends of the spectrum was to highlight the range of experience for gay men. There are the men that have the "straight privilege" and giving that up and having to suddenly deal with possible ridicule or bullying or judgment, what that experience is that like for those men; whereas when you can’t hide the fact that you’re gay. Like me. Every day since I was 5 years old, everyone kind of figured it out, and that takes a completely different personality coming up in the world. You have a very disparate experience. And I wanted to show that, the diversity in the gay community through those two experiences.
Espenson: We’re also very clear that Brady was much more eager to say "love" than Cheeks was. That these things don’t line up, that putting them at the opposite ends of the spectrum doesn’t dictate everything about their personalities.
Bell: Right. Brady is much more sensitive and commitment-oriented and vulnerable, and Cheeks is much more "Let’s not talk about relationships, let’s keep this casual, I’m freaking out, you’re suffocating me."
Espenson: Subverting the masculine and feminine.
Bell: Yeah, absolutely. And I think sometimes, for the sake of an interesting subversion and sometimes because that is the result that you get from the experiences of those people. Sean and I are very close to our characters, so we’ve had very different experiences as gay men. I just thought it would be an interesting character choice and an interesting representation of the complexity within the community.
So Jane, The Advocate interviewed you last year and the interviewer came and reported back, "She’s straight!"  Our executive editor said, "No-o-o. That couldn’t possibly be true, she’s so cool, she has to be a lesbian!"  
Espenson: [Laughs]

Why aren’t you queer? Can we at least call you bi-curious?
Espenson: No. [Laughs]  I wish I were, because this is a movement I feel very strongly about and I would love to be able to say, "I’m on the inside, fighting the fight!" It’s just things don’t line up that way for me. 

Tags: television