The Campaign to Save ‘Take My Wife’

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Take My Wife, the comedy series that got you to sign up for Seeso’s free trial month, binge watch real-life wives Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher as a couple of married comedians, then cancel your subscription when you found out all the other shows had a distressing number of straight people, is looking for a new network. Probably because you couldn’t summon an interest in Bajillion Dollar Properties or HarmonQuest for the good of the gay community (smh).

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On August 9, streaming network Seeso posted on Facebook that they will be folding and discontinuing service by the end of 2017. Later that day, Esposito responded on Twitter giving some insight to their short run at Seeso.

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Fans on Twitter responded immediately, with grief and rage, but not acceptance. A new network would need to be found. It’s not everyday that LGBT folks see ourselves on tv without the usual stereotypes and tropes.

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Watching season one, it seems clear that as showrunners, Esposito and Butcher were very intentional about putting intersectional feminism into practice in front of the camera and behind it. The show never feels tokenizing or forced. Comedy, like TV, is segregated in the mainstream, but on Take My Wife, we see the overlap, the run-ins between the dominant culture and ours.

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Narratively, the number and diversity of LGBT characters helps us imagine more for ourselves and each other. For lesbians, who are used to picking up a story line here or there as if we were grocery shopping in a Soviet grocery on a Saturday night — we’ll absolutely take the white bread from the otherwise barren shelf — it feels amazing to sit down to 30 minutes of uninterrupted, everyday dykery. Could another world of entertainment be possible? Representation is not enough. The gay content of our dreams also has to be funny. Imagine a world where you never had to watch another dopey dude inexplicably make it with a woman who’s far too good for him. While TMW might not fix your weeknight tv intake, six to twelve episodes of this would definitely prove medicinal.

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The show also offers a vision of lesbian domesticity without too much drama. In a 2016 Vanity Fair article, Rhea Butcher said, “Lesbians don’t really get to be on TV and not die.” Esposito talked about the political statement their show makes in avoiding the constant crisis narratives for lesbian characters. In the real world, where our community is dealing with terrorism, gay conversion therapy, erasure, etc., well, I’m no scientist but I imagine this show lowers my cortisol levels.

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I think too-cool millenials who would have left gay marriage to the previous generation (hi, it’s me) may be moved to say “but can I take your wife? can I take both of you?” when watching this pair’s meta business partner-marriage thing. Intimacy in Take My Wife seems rewarding and stable. The narrative takes the relationship as fixed, allowing so many other topics unrelated to identity or gayness to be explored, like rape jokes and misogyny in comedy.

With Season 2 already written, shot and edited, a new network would be handed a ready-made hit, or at least a cult following with big potential. Other Seeso shows HarmonQuest, Hidden America with Jonah Ray, and My Brother, My Brother and Me (yawn, even the title bores me) have been picked up by VRV, a streaming service dedicated to videogame culture. To be honest, after cancelling Sens8, Gypsy, and the most beloved lesbian character (ever??) on OITNB, I think Netflix needs to adopt this show and repair their relationship with the lesbian community. But really any network would do, because Esposito and Butcher do not own the season they’ve finished and have waiting on deck, so they need a platform.

For now, you can still watch the first episode on YouTube, which ought to at least inspire a lil hashtag activism.

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