When AfterEllen.com first reported that CBS’ Rules of Engagement would be adding a lesbian character — let alone one described as a softball-playing surrogate — we were all skeptical. But then Sara Rue was cast for the part of Brenda, opposite her longtime friend Patrick Warburton, and we breathed a sigh of relief.
The actress, with shows like Eastwick, Ryan Murphy’s Popular and a guest stint on CBS’ hit comedy The Big Bang Theory, told me during a recent interview that the show’s creative team specifically sought her out for the part.
Rue first showed up as Brenda on last night’s episode, “Les-Bro,” which you can watch at CBS.com.
AfterEllen.com: What can you share about Brenda? Does she have a girlfriend? Is she going to be dating?
Sara Rue: I know she’s going to be dating. I know there’s going to be a girlfriend in the next episode I do, which I’m really excited about. I hope they cast somebody cute and fun. [Laughs] She’s basically Jeff’s (Warburton) really good friend who’s on his softball team and when my character hears about their struggles to find the perfect surrogate — because Jeff is having an issue having a stranger carry his child — I volunteer and offer to do it for them.
AE: You’re basically volunteering to sit out the softball season?! That’s not very gay!
SR: Hopefully they’ll inseminate me after softball season, that’s what I’m hoping!
AE: Is softball the only lesbian stereotype you’ll be doing on the show or will we see you listening to the Indigo Girls at some point?
SR: [Laughs] I don’t know what the writers have in mind for her but my plan is to portray the character with the utmost respect and dignity for every member of the LGBT community, which is a community that I find myself involved with and probably most comfortable in anyway, to be honest with you. I hope that will be the one pseudo-stereotype but the point is that she’s Jeff’s good friend and the thing that he loves most in the world happens to be playing on this softball team.
I think it was more of a coincidence — the whole sort of lesbian softball thing — as opposed to “Oh, let’s maker her a lesbian who plays softball.” The softball team had already been established and they wanted him to have a good friend on the team.
AE: That’s more of the way it should be, more organic.
SR: Absolutely. It’s one of the first things [creator/executive producer] Tom Hurtz did. [The producers] don’t want anything to be offensive. Everybody involved with the show — and the network for that matter — is extremely supportive of the gay community. I don’t think that they would want anything to be misconstrued as a stereotyping or offensive.
AE: How many episodes of Rules have you signed on for?
SR: It’s open-ended at this point. I did my first one, then I’m off to Atlanta to shoot an ABC Family movie. They made some time for me to do that, then as soon as I get back to L.A. I shoot my next episode. Then we’ll see where it goes from there. I hope they’ll be enough time to really explore the arc of the character in terms of the insemination process and if I do have a girlfriend, how the girlfriend deals with me carrying a man’s baby. I think there’s all sorts of great stuff that could be great stories to be told. I hope they take advantage of all of that.
AE: What about your character’s fashion?
SR: She’s a casual girl. I didn’t wear much makeup. I wore my hair long and straight, jeans and a tank, and a shirt. Very laid back. That’s the whole point of her friendship with Patrick Warburton’s character and why he likes her so much — she really is one of the guys to him. She’s supposed to be the cool, relaxed one. It would be fun to have an episode where she gets to get glammed up.
AE: I’m relieved you’re not in Crocs and flannel.
SR: There was a little flannel, I’m not going to lie to you! [Laughs] But that’s because I was wearing a flannel shirt at the table read and the writers thought it looked cute! I did think, “Oh no, flannel!” Then I thought that it’s what I’d wear if I went to a bar to meet friends, so I thought it was OK.
AE: In that context, I think you’re safe.
Look for the full interview Nov. 17 on Frontiersweb.com.