The Brains Behind Husbands

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



Alessandra Torresani, Bell, and Hemeon

Well, you will always be an honorary lesbian.
Espenson: Thank you. I love that. And who knows? I’m not that old; I could still try things out!
Right! So tell us about the collaboration with Dark Horse.
Espenson: I knew Dark Horse well because they did the Buffy comics and they just struck me as such a good medium to take Buffy forward when we weren’t shooting anything anymore, that when we had a lull between shooting seasons of Husbands it seemed like, well, this is the perfect place to keep the story moving forward.
Bell: Yeah, and in a big grandiose way that you can’t always do. As a comic — and because we were going a different medium where it was artistry, it was fun to sort of imagine, "What if they went back in time? Or into space?" It was a great way to continue the story and sort of explore it through a different filter.
The book is sort of a mash-up of a lot of different genres. What drove you to that?
Bell: Well, we like doing that with the sitcom, sort of taking tropes and the waking up in Vegas scenario, the odd couple scenario, taking classic things that you’ve seen and sort of reinventing them and looking at them through a 21st-century lens and through a same-sex couple with that experience. So that idea appealed to me, to sort of take a trip through classic realms.
Espenson: Sort of doing what, in comic book terms, all we’ve done on the show. Which, the show is a great American sitcom, so let’s reference sitcoms, now we’re into comic books, let’s reference some different classic comic book forms.
Bell: Right. But more of an exploration rather than referencing for the sake of referencing. More of like, "What does this say about gender roles? Like the prince and the princess?" and in that issue you’ll see that Cheeks is kind of like, "OK, I may be locked in the tower, but I don’t need you to rescue me, dude." [Laughs] How do you approach these classic gender roles?
Espenson: Not that princesses should feel that comfortable about being rescued either.
Bell: Exactly. Of course, we make the point that sometimes it’s OK to be rescued. Sometimes you do need it and sometimes it’s OK to enjoy being rescued.
Espenson: There’s something wonderful about being vulnerable.
Bell: Exactly.

Now that marriage equality is such a huge issue — it’s before the Supreme Court now — do you feel pressure to get it right since you’re the only sitcom that does deal with marriage equality?
Bell: Interestingly, we’re the only series of any medium that’s making entertainment out of this. Which is kind of shocking. So no, I don’t feel pressure to get it right, because we’re just being authentic. Being entertaining. And at the end of the day, if anyone is criticizing us for not getting it right, there’s obviously plenty of room to do it themselves. [Laughs] If we’re not getting it right, in someone’s opinion, what matters is at least we’re doing it.
Espenson: I sometimes feel that I’ll put out a notion like this — Is this the right way to say this? And Brad Bell is so on top of all the nuances of all the arguments that he’ll sort of go, "No, that’s not actually the point we’re making. We’re actually making the point that’s three inches over this way." So I feel very confident that Brad Bell knows how to negotiate these waters.
Bell: I want to make something that represents different facets of everything. Gay people, straight people, relationships, the universality of it, the specificity of it. You know, and so I can only go on my own experience and hopefully that’s something people can relate to. And if it’s not then they should get out there and make their own thing that other people can relate to.

Tags: television