We got to know Cheeks and Brady last year when new web series Husbands, co-created by Brad Bell and Jane Espenson, hit the interwebs. It’s a sharp, funny, intelligent comedy about a newlywed couple who got married accidentally, but stayed married by choice. Choice is the key word since, in the world of Husbands, gays and lesbians can choose getting married.
I had the pleasure of attending the Husbands panel at Geek Girl Con this past weekend where they surprised the crowd by screening episode 1 of season 2, which premieres today! Season 2 of Husbands will feature longer episodes (three longer episodes rather than the uber-short 2-minutes-or-so episodes of last season), an examination of how social media affects relationships, a slew of cameos from the geekerati, and the first recurring acting role for rising star, Joss Whedon.
And judging by his performance in this, that kid’s gonna have a bright future.
Season 2 opens with Cheeks (Brad Bell) and Brady (Sean Hemeon) in a moment of newlywed bliss, which is immediately dampened when Cheeks surreptitiously takes a picture of their smooch with his phone and immediately Instagrams it. A media firestorm ensues when the photo spreads, becomes news fodder, and is protested by a right-wing “Million Moms-esque” activist (Amber Benson). Brady gets a call from his manager (Joss Whedon) who warns him that as “down” as he is with Brady being gay, he and Cheeks need to tone it down. Brady then asks Cheeks to “be a little less gay,” which offends him at first. But then, he agrees in a very I Love Lucy manner, which leads us to believe that he’s not agreeing at all, and plans on teaching Brady a lesson.
Something tells me that Cheeks is gonna have a lot of ‘splaining to do.
It seems that, in season two, Team Husbands has embraced the fact that a) Brad Bell is a huge nerd, b) Jane Espenson is a huge nerd, and c) a huge portion of their fan base is a bunch of huge nerds. Geek bait abounds in this first episode, from the cameos to the incorporation of internet life to mentions of Star Wars. And that’s a good thing. The people that make web shows go viral are generally the same people who go to comic cons and try to make web shows of their own. But knowing their audience doesn’t just benefit the show from a marketing standpoint, it pays off massively in the writing of the second season, making the dialogue even snappier (if that’s at all possible) by using a shorthand that’s more easily understood by more people who actually watch the show. Whereas the Cheeks of season one seemed to be speaking in a way geared more toward readers of In Touch, this season balances Cheeks’ high-profile celebutante existence with a tech-savvy, nerdy sensibility that is both genuine and resonates with their audience. Bell and Espenson are an amazing team, and their work together has gelled even better for season two.
Brad Bell and Sean Hemeon have also benefitted from a year of getting to know each other, as their performances individually are much stronger, as is their chemistry together. Bell continues to infuse his Lucille-Ball-meets-Lindsay-Lohan Cheeks persona with intelligence, and a very serious desire to remain true to himself even as he creates a character in order to do it. Hemeon is a perfect counter to Bell, and this season he seems to be having even more fun. Season one Brady was all uptight nerves. Season two Brady is a lot more loose even as he’s reprimanding his husband, and Hemeon gets to show off even more of his considerable comedic skill.
And while we’re talking about performances, let’s give it up for Joss Whedon, who is out and out hilarious in this as Brady’s manager. This isn’t his first rodeo as far as acting is concerned. He did do that cameo on Veronica Mars, and he first stepped into comedic internet video territory with his performance as a bathroom coach. (He also does a terrific dance of joy.) But his role on Husbands is his first real character, and he does well by it, providing much of the episode’s hilarity.
The one element missing from the first episode is Alessandra Torresani’s lovable, drunken screwball, Haley. However, I’ve been assured that there’s plenty of Haley coming, and that even as season two finds her being more understanding of Brady, it will also find her getting up to her usual antics.
Jeff Greenstein’s direction is even better this season, and not only has he drawn sharp performances from the cast, he’s using the camera in more interesting way. It helps that we’ve moved past the cramped limousine/hotel room locations of season one, so that Greenstein has more room in which to play. Still, I enjoy the way he makes screens on screen actually interesting, along with how well he manages to harness Bell’s energy as Cheeks, giving his boisterousness focus and lending it a graceful fluidity.
Also: Sean Hemeon ridiculously hot and shirtless, Dichen Lachman and Tricia Helfer scantily-clad and having a sorority girl pillow fight, and a scantily-clad Felicia Day eating pizza in a way that will make your mouth water. Sadly, Sasha Roiz is not nearly so scantily clad in his cameo as a photographer, but I guess he’s saving his shirtlessness for Grimm. There, so in case the high-falutin’ artsy talk above didn’t get you, there’s also hot, sometimes half-naked people.
Husbands season two premieres today over at LoveHusbands.com, so go over and give it a watch. If this first episode is any indication, season two of Husbands will prove just how well shows on the web are capable of evolving and maturing.
Teresa Jusino would totally post pictures of us making out on Twitter. You’ve been warned. Her Feminist Brown Person take on pop culture has been featured on websites like ChinaShopMag.com, PinkRaygun.com, Newsarama, and PopMatters.com. 2012 will see Teresa’s work in two upcoming non-fiction anthologies, and she is also a writer on Miley Yamamoto’s upcoming sci-fi web series, RETCON, which is set to debut in 2013. For more on her writing,Get Twitterpated with Teresa, “like” her on Facebook, or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.