Review: Husbands Season 1

Nathan Fillion: Action Sports Reporter!

I hope Nathan Fillion comes back if the show returns

I don’t really like web series. I think the medium, overall, is inferior to 20- or 40-minute blocks of television. 2-10 minute segments are extremely short, and unless it’s a show going solely for laughs, such as NTSF:SD:SUV::, I just don’t think web series can be as involving as more traditional TV shows. So that’s how I felt when I started watching Husbands, a new series that just finished its first season, from executive producer Jane Espenson, who is famous for a lot of cool stuff. Full review and spoilers for season 1 after the break.

Season 1 of Husbands is 11 episodes long, at about 2-3 minutes each. So in total it’s around the length of a 30-minute show, if a bit longer (this is on purpose: I think they aim to sell this as a pilot to a network/cable channel). It’s about Brady Kelly and Cheeks getting drunkenly married and going through with it instead of having the marriage annulled.

Over the course of the series, Cheeks and Brady face the same problem in varied forms. They don’t know each other that well, and now they have to figure everything out all at once. Brady screws up, Cheeks screws up, and all of it is extremely personable and adorable, but repetitive. Part of the reason it feels more repetitive than a typical pilot is that you watch 20-30 minutes worth of story over a month, rather than straight through. So instead of getting all of the setup over at once, the installments are more repetitive simply because they have less show-time in a longer period of real-time.

Of the 11, “Normal People” is easily my favourite episode because it relaxes and doesn’t do the fight-make up-be scared cycle. It’s a lot funnier than the other segments (Cheeks: “Other than a national press campaign, what else do normal people do?”), and as Alan Sepinwall says, funny forgives a lot. The other episodes are very watchable, occasionally funny, and always great at showing how two people (gay or straight) would act with each other in the event of an unplanned marriage. But they all tell one story, and as something that’s broken up into 11 episodes, I found that structure frustrating at times. But I like the characters and the comedy, and that’s a lot more than I can say for most network comedy shows that premiered this year.

The other main character of the show, Haley, also adds to the funny and takes away from the repetitive drama (“I fucking love furniture!” she says, in “Normal People,” another excellent line from that segment). If the show becomes a traditional TV comedy, or even just goes on to season 2 of a web series, a lot of the problems I had with the show will likely disappear; they’ll make the show’s world bigger, give Haley more to do, and be past the initial setting up of the story.

The big gay elephant in the room

Obviously, this show has some politics to it. I am strongly in favour of gay marriage/equality rights, so on that level I am very happy that a show like this exists, and hope that it will gain a wider audience someday and give the world an excellent portrayal of same-sex marriage. And that’s all I have to say about that.

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