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It's not like Jane Espenson doesn't have enough to do. Somehow, when she's not writing for "Once Upon a Time" on ABC, or "Game of Thrones" on HBO, or the hundreds of other things she does, she works hand-in-hand with Brad Bell to create a Web series about a gay couple who got drunk and married in Las Vegas, and are afraid to divorce or they set the whole gay marriage movement back 10 years.
And for some strange reason, despite the impressive resume of Espenson (as well as a pretty good one from Bell himself), no network has picked up "Husbands." But maybe Season 2 will be the game-changer?
"Husbands" returns to the Web Aug. 15. It stars Bell as Cheeks, an online character Bell has utilized over the years, who's an up and coming actor that already gains some paparazzi attention. In a night that involved lots of alcohols and a justice of the peace, Cheeks marries friend and out baseball star Brady Kelly, played by "As the World Turns" alum Sean Hemeon.
Once they discover their nuptials, they decide to try and make the marriage work by the end of Season 1 -- with the help of "Caprica" alum Alessandra Torresani, who plays the best friend in all this -- but find out by the beginning of Season 2 that this is not as easy as they thought.
"Husbands" provides a fresh perspective on the gay marriage debate, without actually trying to shove any message in the viewer's face. Whether you support the political side of this or not, the draw to "Husbands" is actually the fun story, the even funnier characters, and a chance to wonder what these characters are going to do next. If you happen to pick up that gay marriage is pretty much like any other marriage along the way, then that's a bonus.
In its first season, "Husbands" relied on very short episodes -- sometimes not much more than a couple minutes long. This was a huge turn-off for me, because it felt like we were only getting in a couple of sentences, and then the episode was suddenly over. In fact, I waited until the entire season was released before I would even start watching it, because as much as I enjoyed Season 1, it wasn't worth the effort seeking out "Husbands" for less than 180 seconds of entertainment.
However, that has changed in Season 2. The first episode clocks in at well over 10 minutes, and while I am not sure if this is the norm for the rest of the episodes in the season, I hope so. It's allowed "Husbands" to adjust its pace a little bit, provide more story in a single sitting, and a chance to really explore the characters of Cheeks and Brady, who felt like we were speed-dating them before.
The comic timing is much more spot on in the second season as well. Not that Season 1 wasn't funny -- but Bell and Hemeon needed some time to gel as an on-screen couple, and that first season wasn't quite long enough to make it happen. That has changed in the new season, as you feel the chemistry between the two is really working. And it doesn't take long to shift from a position as "Oh, that's cute" about the couple in Season 1, to, "I really hope they find a way to make this marriage work" in Season 2 -- which I'm sure is exactly what Espenson and director Jeff Greenstein are trying to accomplish.
And of course, if a fun story, quirky characters and a neat premise is not enough to hook you, "Husbands" has promised an all-star guest lineup in Season 2. They include Felicia Day, Amber Benson, Emma Caulfield, Aasha Davis, Tricia Helfer, Dichen Lachman, Sasha Roiz, Magda Apanowicz and Clare Grant. You don't have to wait long for Helfer ("Battlestar Galactica") and Lachman ("Dollhouse"), as well as Roiz ("Grimm") and Benson ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") as they show up in the first episode.
But then again, so does some other person who is making his acting debut after directing the No. 3 top-grossing film of all time. We'd tell you who it is, but Joss Whedon is getting enough publicity on its own.
Season 2 of "Husbands" premieres Aug 15, and so far it's a good one. You can see the series at HusbandsTheSeries.com, as well as watch all the episodes of the first season to catch up. And maybe you can convince Cheeks to go with a cat instead of a toy dog.
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