Meltdown Comics held the premiere of TV writer and producer Jane Espenson’s latest original web series Husbands last Sunday night as part of the Nerdist Writers Panel series. Audience members were treated to three episodes of the program after a charming, crowd pleasing introduction by Streamy Award-winning writer/executive producer herself, Jane Espenson (Battlestar Galactica).
The show is a unique take on a familiar premise. A couple wakes up in Las Vegas to discover they’re married and stuck together for the rest of their lives (or until they do something like get a hold of this DIY divorce kit). The twist? They are both men and Nevada just made same-sex marriage legal. Now, famous athlete Brady (Sean Hemeon) and actor Cheeks (Brad “Cheeks” Bell) have to navigate married life with constant interruptions from nosy best friend Haley (Alessandra Torresani).
Husbands is a result of the friendship between Espenson and Cheeks formed after Espenson became a fan of Cheeks’ YouTube channel GoCheeksGo. Espenson reached out, Cheeks responded, the two hit it off, and a decision to produce a web series together soon followed. They reached out to director Jeff Greenstein (Desperate Housewives, Will & Grace) and actress Alessandra Torresani (Caprica) to round out the cast and crew.
“Jane decided she wanted to do this, she wrote the check and we made the show.” Said Greenstein, reflecting on how the series came to be. “We just went out and did it.”
Financed entirely by Espenson, the series was a departure from working on studio financed series and proved a challenging, yet fulfilling experience that taught the seasoned television and web series writer a thing or two. “I learned to see production as an extension of the writing process,” Said Espenson. “Before I always thought that my job was done when the script was done. Changing something on the set or in the editing room, it doesn’t mean I failed to get the scripts right, it just means I’m still writing this project.”
The writing process for Husbands was different than her other series, as it featured no involvement from outside parties. “In a way it’s great to not get notes from the studio or a network on a script,” Espenson said when discussing the difference “The downside of that is if you are watching the scene, if you go “does this scene work?” we don’t have the reassurance of knowing that a million people have looked at it. You have to have the faith of your convictions a little more.”
Since it was unknown territory for Espenson, she contacted friends who had success creating independent web series. “Felicia (Day) gave us advice early on,” Espenson mentioned during the panel. She also went to long time collaborator Joss Whedon for advice, even taking a page from his playbook and casting a familiar actor for a cameo. Husbands will feature an appearance from Captain Hammer, Nathan Fillion.
The chemistry between the cast and crew was amazing, evident during the panel and in the show itself. Husbands consists of eleven two-minute episodes that can either be combined into a full-length 22-minute pilot, or watched as standalone installments.
Distributed through Blip.tv, the series premieres Tuesday night and is worth watching. When asked why a viewer should tune in, Espenson simply said, “To laugh. That’s the main reason.”
Husbands succeeds in that respect. It offers truly hilarious moments between heartfelt interactions that examine a unique relationship. What’s next for Husbands is still unknown, but actor Brad “Cheeks” Bell hopes it will transition to TV. “I would love to see it on television” Cheeks said after the premiere. “I think it would be a huge hit.”