At a little before noon on Sunday, the last day of SDCC 2012, Jane Espenson (BSG, Buffy), Brad “Cheeks” Bell (Pop-Up Video), Jenna Busch (Moviefone Minute), Sean Hemeon (True Blood), and Jeff Greenstein (Will and Grace) file onto the stage of Room 7AB and begin setting up for the panel “Espenson: An Anagram For Openness” (and I just realized that’s not metaphorical). The room is packed and the audience settling in eagerly awaits the discussion to follow which will focus on Jane and Brad’s new online series, Husbands, called the “future of TV” by Ira Glass.
The panel starts with Jane and Brad talking about the genesis of Husbands, and how the idea of newlyweds was the idea that locked the show into place.They referenced I Love Lucy as a classic example.
Jeff Greenstein says that the depiction of gay characters on TV has been “moving in reverse since Will and Grace.” The difference between Husbands and Glee is that Glee offers a message of tolerance more at home in the 1980s than 2012. Husbands pushes TV forward.
Brad and Jane talk about Season 2. It takes place three weeks and a new house later, with the couple still figuring out how to present themselves to the world. Jane compares Husbands to the post-coming out season of Ellen, in that there’s an energy and a sense that the stories being told have never been told before.
When asked if the character Cheeks is essentially just himself, Brad Bell says that Cheeks on the show is like a snapshot of himself that he is growing further away from as he changes in real life.
When asked about the challenges of working with a lower budget, Jeff says the amount of planning that goes into the show is immense and must be very detailed because the budget is so tight.
We got an accidental live reenactment of the writing process as Brad and Jane describe their writing process and how they build off each other. They essentially describe passing scripts back and forth and each of them change/add things.
We then watch a clip in which it’s revealed that Joss Whedon will play Brady’s agent in every episode of Season 2! He’ll join Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) as a guest star!
We then go to the audience Q & A:
1. Who is your favorite Buffy character? Brad answered Buffy, Jane said Anya. “Her character always made sense to me,” said Jane.
2. Anything you regret doing? Jeff Greenstein said there was an episode of Will and Grace in which there were some demeaning and even hurtful stereotypes of lesbians. He said after the fact that everyone on the show felt that it was a mistake.
3. One audience member asks, as a writer, how do you write characters who are different races, sexes, sexuality, etc. than you. Jane said to go out into the world, meet people who are different from you, and have people read your work and tell you if it doesn’t ring true. Jeff also suggested to find how those characters are similar to you instead of how they are different.
4. A young man asked the panelists, “Since Alessandra isn’t here, what’s the most embarrassing thing she’s done on set?” After everyone laughed about the question, they talked about how she owns everything and doesn’t really get embarrassed very often, then Cheeks relayed a story about her mispronunciation of the play Lysistrata. He said it was during a read through and she asked him several times how to pronounce it, but when it came time for her to say it in front of everyone, she just butchered it. We all laughed as they talked about how she just played on through and didn’t let it phase her. He finished by saying that he only remembers this, because it doesn’t happen very often at all. She’s a very confident, wonderful person and so much fun!
After the panel we all received pre-signed promo photos of Cheeks and Grady, signed by the two stars and Jane Espenson.
And, if you’re in Los Angeles in August:
Husbands: Season Two Premiere of the Groundbreaking Sitcom
Monday, August 13th, 2012
Brad Bell: Co-Creator & Executive Producer
Jane Espenson, Co-Creator & Executive Producer
Jeff Greenstein: Director & Executive Producer
Sean Hemeon: Brady Kelly
Alessandra Torresani: Haley
Be a part of history as Husbands becomes the first online series to be hosted by The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. The series, praised by no less than The New Yorker and The Atlantic, follows a young, same-sex couple as they make the sort of newlywed mistakes that used to be available only to one man and one woman. The comedy was created by Jane Espenson (Once Upon a Time) and writer/actor Brad Bell (Pop-Up Video).
The acclaimed series returns August 15th on LoveHusbands.com, and in advance of that, the Paley Center is premiering the first episode of the second season, featuring Joss Whedon in his acting debut.
The night also includes a discussion with the executive producers and cast on how the web is the ultimate realization of the television promise.
Tickets went on sale Friday, July 27, to Paley Center members and on Saturday, July 28, to the general public. Members: $5; General Public: $7.