Premiering in 2011, Husbands has earned praise for its stars, writers and crew from numerous sources, including The New Yorker, TIME, and Out magazine, along with awards from the IAWTV, Streamys and Webbys. Co-creators Jane Espenson and Brad Bell are currently on tour promoting Husbands, a comic published by Dark Horse. Last week CW Digital acquired distribution rights for the series. This essay is part of Televisual‘s “Indie TV Innovation” series.
In promoting Husbands, the producers, director and cast attend a lot of fan conventions. One of these is called Bent-Con, known informally as “Gay Comic Con”. When we held our panel at Bent-Con, we noticed a young fan – a brightly dressed boy in heart-shaped glasses — watching intently as a sign-language interpreter relayed what we were saying. After the panel, he sought us out and conveyed through a combination of interpreter and intense body language how important it is to him personally that our show exists. He was adorable, intense, moving and moved. During panels we often relate a tale about the value of saving individual stranded starfish on a sun-baked beach, even though you can’t save them all. That boy, we decided that day, is our star starfish. Seeing how we’d affected him reminded us of why we make the show.
For us, Husbands is, all at once, a dream for the future and a dream come true. The show’s marriage equality premise is a chance to transform hearts and minds. And by working in an emerging medium, we have the privilege of joining all the creative people who are currently shaping the future of the arts, and can do so without the traditional filter of a network, which might shy away from ideas and images that are so crucial in this time of change. And, through writing comedy, we get to take on an important topic by bringing laughter to a supportive and enlightened audience, and that is a great gift to ourselves. There is nothing more satisfying than writing a joke that makes us laugh, too. We’ve worked from two different ends of the entertainment horizon – from traditional television and from the emerging new media tradition — and made something that has changed both of our careers, and lives, for the better. And, as huge as this sounds, it really is our greatest hope that Husbands, in ways big or small, just may do the same for society, the industry, and the lives of people across the world.
–Jane Espenson and Brad Bell
Brad Bell is a fresh face in TV, most recently working as a Consulting Producer for VH1’s Pop Up Video. Bell has crafted the online persona of “Cheeks” — building an established fan base he brings to his projects. In addition to short form comedic videos on You Tube, “Cheeks” has also released three albums on iTunes, all of which debuted in the Top Ten Electronic charts. Bell is Executive Producer, co-writer, and star of Husbands.
Jane Espenson created the award-winning sitcom Husbands with her partner Brad Bell (VH1’s Pop-Up Video). She is also known for her work as a writer/producer of shows including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, The O.C., Gilmore Girls, Battlestar Galactica, and Game of Thrones among other series. She is currently proud to be Consulting Producer of ABC’s Once Upon A Time as well as continuing her work on Husbands with Bell. Their Husbands comic book is currently available for pre-order at Amazon.com.