Elisha Cuthbert might be the focus of our attention on One Big Happy, but her major relationships on the show, premiering Tuesday, March 17 on NBC, are with her best friend, Luke (Nick Zano) and his new wife, Prudence (Kelly Brook). This trio has an interesting dynamic, as Lizzy doesn’t necessarily approve of the British brunette who has busted into their lives. She’s known her friend for most of her life, and they’re about to have a baby together.
Complications like this create comedy, and Kelly Brook loves that her American TV debut is also creating a new kind of relationship for two women.
“This is the first time we’ll be seeing a lesbian female character on network television, and all of a sudden you get this girl who’s very sexually free with her body and not ashamed of anything,” Kelly said, “and it’s quite interesting to see Elisha’s character respond to that because some would assume she’d be drooling and be all over her.”
“It’s not like the stereotypical, ‘She’s a lesbian, so she must find her attractive,’” Elisha echoed. “[Prudence] comes in like a tornado and [Lizzy] just doesn’t have the bunker ready to deal with it yet.”
Kelly said she sees Prudence as someone who just wants to be part of the family, and Lizzy can’t quite let her in.
“I think my character completely falls in love with Nick’s character and Lizzy,” Kelly said.”[Prudence] loves being there and she wants to find her place. She’s kind of doing whatever she can to fit in and find her role in it.”
But because Lizzy isn’t welcoming, Kelly says there are some times when Prudence can be a little “feisty.”
“I think Prudence tries so hard to help Lizzy and Luke, that there comes a point where she does answer back and she gets feisty, too,” Kelly said. “I think if she didn’t, she’d just be a walkover so you need to have that. They need to match each other, but in a different way, otherwise it wouldn’t work. So Prudence is very sweet and nice, but she won’t let Lizzy bully her, and that’s important.”
Prudence falls in love with Luke almost immediately, but she’s also just about to get sent back home from the U.S., which is why they decide to make it legal, fast.
“I think that’s her idea of friendship: motherly, mama bear feelings toward Luke’s character. It’s like, ‘Wait a minute—I’m looking out for you. Are you sure this is the right thing to do?” Elisha said of Lizzy’s protectiveness.
Prudence is a bit more of a free spirit. She’s used to traveling the world and adapting and living in different cultures and situations and trying different jobs and just being a bit more open to differences to people,” Kelly said, “whereas I think Lizzy is uptight, doesn’t want anyone coming in and changing things. This is how she does things, this is where her furniture is—she doesn’t want to change.”
As Luke, Nick Zano is also somewhat free-spirited, and hopes longtime BFF Lizzy will learn to love Prudence and accept her as the new addition. Luke is based on creator Liz Feldman’s real life best friend and one-time possible baby daddy, Jason.
“He writes on the show,” Nick said of his character’s inspiration. “We don’t look alike, but we like to do mirror exercises to trip Liz out. But there are moments when Jason—J and I—will be talking, and Liz will be standing across the room staring at us. It’s her two worlds colliding. It’s kind of great. And by the way, he’s a hilarious writer. But he’s a normal guy, so there’s nothing to take for the character, which is a bummer. He’s a normal dad who’s a great guy. I’m like, ‘Ugh, you’re too together!””
Nick said he became friends with Liz a few years ago when they worked together on 2 Broke Girls.
“During that time I was writing something, and she was writing this and on the weekends, we would talk to each other and see how things were going, how progress with the networks was.” Nick said. “I’d been aware of this show from conception through the writing process. I became available and when I became available, Liz asked, ‘Do you want to do this?’ And l said, ‘Yeah, let’s do this,’ because I adore Liz.”
From there, Nick said he “recruited Elisha like a high school athlete.”
“I called her on vacation and I told her, ‘You’ve got to do this. We need you. Warner Bros. needs you. You need to bring your talents here,’” Nick said. “She’s like, ‘I’ve never done a sitcom!’ I said, ‘Dude, you can do a sitcom.’ She crushes it. She’s totally amazing. And so when she came on board, we found Kelly, and then the three of us got together and fortunately, we all adore each other and like each other. We hang out socially, and I can’t imagine doing this with anyone else.”
Nick grew up in a house with seven women so he loves working with so many women on One Big Happy.
“Two is nothing!” Nick said of starring alongside Elisha and Kelly. “I‘ve got seven and three generations. It was seven different opinions of what makes a good guy.”
An ally for both LGBT and women’s rights, Nick says it was those key issues that encouraged him to become part of the 2012 re-election campaign for President Obama.
“Who is anyone to tell anyone else what to do with their bodies? That was my call to arms,” Nick said. “When we watch a documentary of this time, the people who are against this are going to be very embarrassed. And by the way, that documentary is not that far away. And things move fast, production moves quickly and opinions change faster. Some people are going to look very dated to their kids and grandkids.”
As for any criticism the show will get from those who aren’t ready to see lesbians on mainstream TV, Nick said he can’t wait for people to just watch One Big Happy and then decide whether it’s a show that they want to watch without focusing on Lizzy’s sexual orientation.
“It’s about friendship and life,” he said. “The least focal point of this entire dynamic and season is the fact that Lizzy is a lesbian. You’ve seen the episodes—it’s not like a recruitment video we’re giving every week. There are no people knocking on your door enlisting you to join the gay armed forces. That’s so ridiculous. We live in a time when negativity spreads a lot faster than positivity. People like to hate before they like.”
“I think that people who watch the show are going to watch the show because they want to watch the show,” Nick continued. “And they’ll see what the show’s about and this is all going to fade away, and it’s going to become a TV show that you watch and you laugh and you enjoy. But right now they don’t know yet, and that’s fine. But they will, and then they’ll be surprised at how cosmopolitan they all are, watching this show. I think it’s a little more common than people are making it out to be. It’s not that uncommon.”
Elisha said that her friendship with Luke, which she also noted is not the kind of relationship we see on screen between female/male co-leads, is the truest relationship Lizzy has ever had.
“I don’t think Lizzy’s been in a really healthy relationship ever, other than her friendship with Luke,” Elisha said. “I think he’s the healthiest influence in her life. I think we find that Luke and Lizzy have said ‘If we’re single by a certain age, let’s do this.”
One Big Happy premieres tonight, March 17 at 9:30pm EST.