Sara Rue has been on several network television shows throughout her career, but one of her most well known roles was alongside Tammy Lynn Michaels on Popular. She went on to guest on Will & Grace, and to kiss Lindsay Price on Eastwick. In 2010, she became a recurring lesbian character on Rules of Engagement. If you’re any kind of gay, you’ve seen her on at least one of these shows, or plan to watch her on the premiere of Malibu Country tonight, as she costars alongside gay icon Reba McEntire and legendary lesbian comic Lily Tomlin.
“Ever since I’ve been about 19 or 20 I started going out in LA I always felt more comfortable going dancing with my friends at the gay clubs,” Rue said. “My best friend is gay and I always felt very accepted and included in the gay community, so I guess that’s why!”
And while you might think Malibu Country doesn’t sound so gay, you might be surprised to hear that it is. In tonight’s premiere, Reba moves her children and mother (Tomlin) to their Malibu beach house after finding out her husband has cheated on her. Rue plays their new Real Housewives-esque neighbor with a son who says he’s gay, but ends up kissing Reba’s teen daughter.
“Is he gay? Is he just using it to make out with girls?” Rue said at the ABC TCA party in August. “I think there a lot of kids that are figuring it out and I love that they might explore that. I think that’s great.”
She also noted that among herself, Reba, Lily and Jai Rodriguez, the audience should be pretty gay as well.
“They hired a lot of people with very strong gay fanbases and I think it’s awesome. I was like ‘Oh good!'” Rue said. “[ABC] has always been very gay friendly and very pro the movement. I feel like they’ve done stuff not just in the community but stuff for the community. Even in doing [former show] Less Than Perfect, they were very open to everything.” Well ABC was where she smooched Lindsay Price, so we can at least thank them for that!
But it’s over at CBS, on Rules of Engagement, where Rue plays Brenda, a softball playing lesbian surrogate to the show’s main couple Audrey and Jeff. The comedy will return mid-season for 13 final episodes in its seventh season, and last we knew, Brenda was still pregnant.
“Since I’ve been pregnant for over two years, I think I might have that baby,” Rue said. “I was supposed to do more episodes last year and then their order got cut. There were going to do a full 22 and then they ended up not doing it, so the storyline never really got resolved. They told me me they want me to come back so I’m assuming — poor Audrey and Jeff have to have that baby! I feel like my character’s storyline, her job was to give them what they wanted. What they always wanted as a couple was a child. So I feel like if I do deliver and pull the baby out and ‘Here’s your baby!’ then I’ve done my character’s job. But it’d be nice to have something more than just giving birth.”
In the meantime, Sara can be found making Friday nights fun on ABC, pushing the envelope with not only gay themes but marijuana jokes (have you ever seen a high Lily Tomlin? You will tonight!) and other fish-out-of-water moments as she plays a great foil to Reba’s “we’re not in Nashville anymore” country singer character.
“We’re a Friday night family comedy so how far can we take the storylines?” Rue said. “It’s pretty cool to think about shows that were on Friday nights 10 years ago or 15 years ago and what’s going to be on now. We’ve just come so far.”
Malibu Country premieres tonight on ABC.