Things you can spend three minutes doing: angst over whether to arrange your Star Wars DVDs in external or internal chronological order, play three games of Bejewelled Blitz, or, watch an episode of Husbands.
I strongly recommend the last option.
Husbands is an 11 part web series series, and it is excellently weird. You can view it in its entirety here.
Written by Jane Espenson, whose name you will most likely recognise from writing credits in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, Game of Thrones and Torchwood, the series centres around Cheeks (Brad Bell) and Brady (Sean Hemeon). After dating for six weeks, the two men get drunk in Vegas celebrating the legalization of gay marriage and wake up sporting wedding rings. As a high profile actor and baseball player respectively, both are desperate to avoid ‘Being Britney’, and so decide to give the marriage a shot. Newlywed hijinks, hotel pilfering and social networking etiquette ensue.
There was a comparable plot line in the 2004 film Laws of Attraction. However what took Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan 45 minutes and a trip to Ireland to portray is expressed in little over six minutes in Husbands – and yet somehow it doesn’t feel in the least bit rushed.
This is not a conventional show. For one, it is a web series. No episode goes for longer than three minutes – in half an hour you can have watched the whole thing.
If you only take a quick glance, it would be easy to view this series as something light hearted; temporarily entertaining but forgettable. It is full of one liners, camp costumes, borderline caricatured characters and pop culture references. However, whereas half an hour of a show like CSI gets you a dead body, a Fred Basset-level hilarity pun and a whole lot of pippetting, in the same time-frame Husbands manages to cram in an almost unbelievable amount of depth.
It manages to touch on topics such as gay marriage, the fame monster, relationship dynamics and feminism, and treat these with both gravity and humour. Homosexuality is by no means a new topic for film and tv. However the way in which it is normalised in Husbands I think is a far bigger breakthrough than television shows which approach the topic in a strangely defensive way, almost as a challenge, or those who use it purely for shock value. Husbands just happens to be about two married men. It’s not a big deal.
In its entirety, there are only three actors, two cameo appearances (by Nathan Fillion and Michael Buckley), and a dog. The dialogue is brilliant, with not a single word being wasted. The show balances the serious with the ridiculous, my favourite example of which being when Haley (Alessandra Torressani), Cheeks’ best friend, questions the newly married couple on the logistics of where they will live, about filing joint taxes, meeting in-laws and then offers to take notes on a taco chip with a mascara wand.
It’s weird to think of a show having never existed on television. However, it is also weird to turn on your television only to find that America’s Hardest Prisions is on, and that it is the episode about the woman who offers “colon cleansing” to her fellow inmates. Again.
Husbands gives me hope. Smart writing still exists, originality can still happen, and, at least somewhere, one show isn’t working to lower the world’s IQ.
Elizabeth can also be found at her blog Harold is Cool.