Husbands (TV series)

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Husbands
Title card from the third season of Husbands.png
Title card from the third season
Genre Sitcom
Created by Brad Bell
Jane Espenson
Written by Brad Bell
Jane Espenson
Directed by Jeff Greenstein (17 episodes)
Eli Gonda (3 episodes)
Starring Brad Bell
Sean Hemeon
Composer(s) Stephen Main
(season one)
James Bladon
(season two)
Ross Flournoy
(season three)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 20 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Jane Espenson
Brad Bell
Jeff Greenstein
Producer(s) M. Elizabeth Hughes[1]
Location(s) Los Angeles, California
Cinematography Benjamin Kantor
Running time 3–10 minutes
Production company(s) Ottoman Empire
Distributor CW Seed (2013–present)
Broadcast
Original channel YouTube
Original run September 13, 2011 (2011-09-13) – present
External links
Website

Husbands is an American sitcom written and created by Brad Bell and Jane Espenson, which premiered September 13, 2011 via super syndication on platforms such as Blip, YouTube, and Roku. The series stars Brad Bell and Sean Hemeon as a newly married couple. Billed as the world's first marriage equality comedy, Husbands is a modern look on the classic premise of the newlywed sitcom.

The second season premiered August 15, 2012. After producing two seasons independently, it was announced that CW Seed had made a six-episode order for a third season of Husbands, which aired on August 15, 2013.

Synopsis[edit]

After six weeks of courtship, an actor (Bell) and a baseball player (Hemeon) travel to Las Vegas in celebration of a federal amendment for marriage equality, only to wind up drunk-married to each other. Fearing that a public divorce would be devastating to the cause, and their careers, the two decide to stay married.[2][3][4]

Production[edit]

Conception[edit]

The conceptualization of the series originated from a script written by Brad Bell, entitled SO L.A., the story of a gay man in his twenties, his female best friend, and the single life in Los Angeles.[5][6] Jane Espenson read the script and declared it "brilliant, and funny, and hilarious". She urged Bell to move forward with the project and search for a more immediate angle. Bell countered by offering the premise of young same-sex newlyweds, giving the concept a "fresher take" and turning it into a platform for his signature comedic style of societal observations.[7][8] Bell then wrote the initial draft of what became Husbands overnight.[9]

Development history[edit]

Official CW Seed poster for season three.

Husbands debuted on September 13, 2011.[10] The show's streaming was hosted by Streamin’ Garage for its worldwide series premiere.[11]

To fund the second season, the creators launched a Kickstarter platform for individual pledges,[12][13][14] the primary goal being $50,000.[15] On April 18, 2012 the campaign reached $60,000,[16] 120% of their original goal.[17][18] Whilst the first season consisted of eleven two-minute episodes, the second season consists of three eight-minute acts.[19] In an interview with Heat, Bell added that they were "turning everything up, the quality, the controversy, the comedy, the heart, the sex -- everything".[20] On August 13, 2012 season two premiered at the Paley Center for Media, in Beverly Hills, California, making it the first online series to be hosted by Paley Center.[21][22]

On March 27, 2013 Variety reported that Husbands would continue production in partnership with CW Seed.[23][24][25] Accordingly, CW Seed ordered six episodes for the third season, consisting of two story arcs.[26][27] It aired on the network on August 15, 2013,[28] and debuted a special screening at the Paley Center for Media on August 14, 2013.[29][30] With the move to CW Seed, the new content on its website became geographically locked to air in the United States. Brad Bell explained, "25% of our audience is international, and we love those fans. [...] I am working on how we are going to get it to them".[31] The issue was later redressed, re-releasing the season internationally on October 17, 2013.[32]

Casting[edit]

On July 12, 2011 the main cast was announced as Brad Bell, Sean Hemeon and Alessandra Torresani.[33] Hemeon was the last actor to audition for the part of Brady, and eventually got the role.[34] The name of his character Brady Kelly is a deliberate word play on the name of show creator Brad Bell.[35] During the live world premiere of season one on Streamin' Garage, Bell announced that the first two celebrity guest appearances would be Michael Buckley[36] and Nathan Fillion.[37]

At the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con, Brad Bell and Jane Espenson revealed that Joss Whedon would appear in all episodes as Wes,[12] on which Whedon commented that it was his "biggest acting role yet".[38][39] Further casting for season two included Jon Cryer, Mekhi Phifer,[40][41] Felicia Day, Amber Benson, Emma Caulfield,[19] Tricia Helfer, Sasha Roiz, Magda Apanowicz, Aasha Davis, Dichen Lachman,[42] and Clare Grant.[43]

On July 5, 2013 The Hollywood Reporter announced Amy Acker as the first guest star of the third season.[28] During the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con, the casting sheet for season three was revealed to include Seth Green, Michael Hogan, Beth Grant and Deb Theaker.[44] A trailer later confirmed that Hogan and Grant would be playing Brady's parents Scott and Gillian, respectively.[45] Janina Gavankar and Elaine Carroll were later added to the list.[46]

Cast[edit]

Main[edit]

  • Brad Bell as Cheeks
  • Sean Hemeon as Brady Kelly

Recurring[edit]

Guest appearances[edit]

Season one
Season two
Season three

Themes[edit]

In an article for The Huffington Post, creator Brad Bell said that a concept he had in mind while creating Husbands was to retain a framing device of conventional sitcom tropes, but "instead of avoiding the cliché, we can somehow reinvent the wheel".[47] He elaborated on the show's philosophy:

Husbands, both as a sitcom and as a comic book, embraces clichés, stereotypes and tropes to make a point: Most old ideas are only as meaningless or as negative as their context. Few of these notions are intrinsically detrimental, as the judgements we attach to them exist only in our minds. See, it's the ratio of "expected" to "unexpected" that gives us dimensionality and makes each one of us unique. Like a snowflake! Then again, snowflakes aren't all that unique. (Science lied to you.)[47]

In a piece, while examining the show in comparison to Mad About You, Den of Geek's Laura Akers reasons that "this comparison sells the online comedy short". Akers added that the "[Mad About You characters] never had to face the kind of scrutiny that Brady and Cheeks do nor did the validity of heterosexual marriage as a construct rest on their shoulders". Akers concluded that "for all its courage in taking on some of these issues, it’s never heavy-handed or melodramatic. Instead, it’s whimsical, witty, and highly entertaining. [...] And because we recognize, gay or straight, what love really looks like, the show’s appeal is universal".[48]

About the series' place in the entertainment industry, Bell said that Husbands "lives in the newest medium for entertainment because, along with proving that American audiences are more progressive than broadcast networks might think, the show also demonstrates that viewers are happy to consume entertainment in a new medium, which is actually an old medium reinvented, which is actually the entire conceptual frame of Husbands as a sitcom".[49] Themes of 'gender identity versus sexual identity' served as subtext for the second season,[50][51] and according to Bell, "recurs throughout the entire series".[52]

Episodes[edit]

Season Episodes Originally aired
Season premiere Season finale
1 11 September 13, 2011 (2011-09-13) October 18, 2011 (2011-10-18)
2 3 August 15, 2012 (2012-08-15) September 12, 2012 (2012-09-12)
3 6 August 15, 2013 (2013-08-15) October 3, 2013 (2013-10-03)

In other media[edit]

Comic books[edit]

Main article: Husbands: The Comic

At the 2012 Dragon*Con, it was announced that an exclusive six-issue Husbands digital comic book series would be released, starting October 24, 2012, with Dark Horse Comics,[53][54] featuring art by Ron Chan and various other artists.[55][56][57] Jane Espenson elaborated on the key concept, saying that "the comic books are going to totally dive into a whole [alternate-universe] premise. So we're going from genre-curious to full-on genre". The storyline follows the events that take place after Cheeks and Brady receive a mysterious wedding present, which sets in motion a chain of events, thematic to the rabbit hole metaphor.[58][59] Brad Bell, who wrote the script with Espenson, says "I wanted to make sure we translated Husbands into something worthy of the comic realm. It’s not some sort of trans-media marketing ploy. I think fans of comics and fans of Husbands will enjoy it".[57] The series was ultimately collected in a hardcover edition, released March 27, 2013.[57]

Reception[edit]

Critical reaction[edit]

Husbands was the first new media series to receive critical acclaim from multiple mainstream media outlets, including high praise from The New Yorker, which marked the publication's first inclusion of a new media series.[60] Commending the series' writing, TVLine remarked that "rapid fire wit and comedic cleverness dominate every moment".[61] Maureen Ryan of The Huffington Post noted the intricacy beneath Husbands' sitcom sensibility, saying, "Husbands doesn't side-step the complexity of the situation…it deftly uses those problems as comedic fodder".[62] Lifestyle magazine Out echoed this sentiment by calling Husbands "crackling cultural commentary with the quick-step energy of classic screwball comedy"[63] while Time observed that, though Husbands "starts from a high-satire topic about the public debate over gay marriage" it ultimately "ends up telling a very sweet story about two guys trying to have a relationship simply as people".[64] In addition to being named the Best Web Comedy of 2011 by TV.com[65] and "currently the best web series running" by A.V. Club's Todd VanDerWerff,[66] Husbands was also called "One of the smartest, most unique, and powerful pieces of entertainment this year" by The Insider.[67]

As for the show's role in the context of the entertainment industry, political blog ThinkProgress defined Husbands as "pioneering", and "an important example of how television distributed online fits into a larger pop-culture ecosystem".[68] Adding to that idea, Complex praised the show for being "consistently hilarious…while blazing digital and social trails".[69]

Before guest starring in season two, Joss Whedon expressed his admiration for the series, and described it as "full of the kind of whip-smart remarks you wish you'd written yourself".[20][70] Additional media coverage has included Wired,[71] The Chicago Tribune,[72] The Philadelphia Inquirer,[73] The Atlantic,[74] The Advocate,[75] The Austin Chronicle,[76] The Salt Lake Tribune,[77] The Los Angeles Times,[78] LA Weekly,[79] Backstage,[80] The Backlot,[81] AfterEllen,[82] as well as the media monitoring organization GLAAD.[83]

Viewership[edit]

On September 24, 2011 the numbers of the individual viewers were announced, which amounted up to 100,000 after 10 days on air.[84] The series currently holds over 3,000,000 total views on YouTube, as of July 2014.[85][86]

Accolades[edit]

List of awards and nominations
Year Award Category Recipients and nominees Result Ref.
2012 Indie Soap Awards Best Actor (Comedy) Brad Bell Nominated [87]
Best Writing (Comedy) Jane Espenson and Brad Bell Nominated
Telly Awards Online Video Scriptacular Productions Won
Webby Awards Best Writing Nominated [88]
2013 International Academy of Web Television Best Comedy Web Series Husbands Nominated [89]
Best Male Performance (Comedy) Sean Hemeon Nominated
Best Female Performance (Comedy) Alessandra Torresani Nominated
Best Writing (Comedy) Brad Bell and Jane Espenson Nominated
Best Directing (Comedy) Jeff Greenstein Nominated
Streamy Awards Best Male Performance: Comedy Brad Bell Nominated [90][91]
Best Female Performance: Comedy Alessandra Torresani Nominated
Best Guest Appearance Joss Whedon Nominated
Best Cinematography Benjamin Kantor Nominated
Series of the Year Husbands Nominated
Indie Soap Awards Best Web Series (Comedy) Nominated [92]
Best Actor (Comedy) Brad Bell Won
Sean Hemeon Nominated
Best Supporting Actor (Comedy) Joss Whedon Nominated
Best Writing (Comedy) Brad Bell and Jane Espenson Won
Best Directing (Comedy) Jeff Greenstein Nominated
Best Ensemble (Comedy) Husbands Nominated
Best Guest Appearance (Comedy) Jon Cryer Nominated
Best Editing Nathaniel Atcheson Nominated
2014 Writers Guild of America Awards Short Form New Media – Original Brad Bell and Jane Espenson for the episodes
"I Do Over Part 1–2"
Nominated [93]
International Academy of Web Television Best Editing Nathaniel Atcheson Nominated [94]
Best Comedy Series Husbands Won
Best Directing (Comedy) Jeff Greenstein, Eli Gonda Nominated
Best Female Performance in a Comedy Amy Acker Nominated
Best Male Performance in a Comedy Brad Bell Won
Sean Hemeon Nominated
Best Writing (Comedy) Brad Bell and Jane Espenson Won
Best Ensemble Performance Brad Bell, Sean Hemeon Won
Best Supplemental Content Husbands Nominated
Best Returning Series Nominated
Indie Series Awards Best Web Series - Comedy Nominated [95]
Best Directing - Comedy Eli Gonda Nominated
Best Writing - Comedy Brad Bell and Jane Espenson Nominated
Best Lead Actor - Comedy Brad Bell Won
Best Guest Star - Comedy Amy Acker Won
Best Editing Nathaniel Atcheson Nominated
Webby Awards Best Writing Ottoman Empire Nominated [96]

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External links[edit]