Even as LGBT characters are becoming more and more visible on mainstream television, we still find ourselves asking, will the writers do the character justice? Will she just be used for another character’s plot development? Will she be likeable? With the new NBC comedy One Big Happy, produced by Ellen DeGeneres and written by out comedian Liz Feldman, it’s safe to say we can take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.
The story is based on Feldman’s true life experience with her male best friend, and knowing the show is in her capable hands gives us another reason to be happy. The leading lady, Lizzy, is played by the terrifically funny Elisha Cuthbert, who has proven that she has the chops to bring both the humor and sensitivity to primetime’s first lesbian leading character since the sitcom Ellen ended in 1998. Seventeen years is a long time, and lesbian and bisexual viewers have longed for and deserve characters to get behind. From what we know so far, Lizzy is relatable, and sure of who she is, which is certainly something we have hoped for.
We are also hoping that this new makeshift family, made up of Lizzy, her best friend Luke (Nick Zano) and his new wife Prudence (Kelly Brook) can inject a new energy to the half-hour sitcom. By bringing their lives, loves and triumphs into the homes of millions of viewers each week, the world can get the benefit of a new perspective. Baseball games and ballet recitals are full of families with two moms, two dads, and even ones like Lizzy, Luke and Pru. Anytime someone gets a chance to see a reflection of themselves in media is a day when that person feels just a little less alone. Television has been connecting us since the days of The Ed Sullivan Show, and social media brings us even closer. We’re crossing our fingers that One Big Happy can start a real dialogue among viewers.
Television shows have also helped change hearts, and bridge gaps. Anytime we have LGBT characters or families represented on television, it allows us to touch people who may have preconceived notions and prejudices. It’s a lot harder to hate someone if you feel a connection to them, and One Big Happy, like Friends, Will and Grace and Ellen’s show before them, has an opportunity to be a part of that change.
We know that Lizzy is pregnant, but we also hope that she finds love (or at least some lovely ladies to date) on the show. Watching a single mom navigate the queer dating scene is something that hasn’t been explored much and is therefore intriguing. Imagine all the possible guest stars who could drop in to add a little spice to Lizzy’s life! I can think of a few. (In fact, we have a piece about that!) Elisha Cuthbert has been worth swooning over since she was in Love, Actually, and seeing her finally play gay is a true delight.
The dynamic between Lizzy and Prudence is also something to look forward to. Here’s hoping that they will find their way from being potential adversaries to making a real connection. We have seen women pitted against each other far too often. Maybe One Big Happy can turn that tired formula on its head.
And of course, we are hoping that One Big Happy makes us laugh. It is One Big Happy after all! So many lesbian and bisexual characters have had such serious story lines riddled with drama that it would be refreshing to see a truly laugh out loud, funny show about us.
We yearn for stories about our lives, and we fight hard for the characters and shows that we love. Television has not always loved us back, and it’s something we keep hoping will change. Each year, we take another step forward, and here’s hoping that One Big Happy is a giant step.
This post was sponsored by NBC.