Married couple Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher have joined forces to create the comedy “Take My Wife,” about two comedians who are dating each other and also also happen to be named Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher.
“The show is about stand-up as a workplace and stand-up as a family business,” Esposito told NBC OUT. “We really wanted to show like the everyday feeling of it, especially at the beginning of your career."
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Creating “Take My Wife,” which is now available on streaming service Seeso (which, like NBC OUT, is part of NBC Universal), came with two major obstacles for the duo: working with a spouse and a very short turnaround time.
“We piloted, wrote, directed, shot, edited and delivered it within six months, so that is very unusual,” Esposito explained.
While Esposito said they “had less chances to get things right,” both comedians agreed the time constraints had benefits.
“I think in a lot of ways it was a blessing, because we had to just get the story out and get it down. We didn’t have time to keep anything too precious,” Rhea Butcher told NBC OUT via email.
Esposito said she enjoyed being able to “really get to see the outputs of your work” quickly, as opposed to waiting longer stretches to see the finished product.
Working together as a married couple was also a double-edged sword.
"Fourteen hour work days and then going home and hanging out with each other would be hard on any relationship,” Esposito said.
Butcher added, “You want to be like, 'You would not BELIEVE what happened at work today!' But the person you’re talking to already knows."
In the end, their love for each other's work outweighed any issues.
“The good thing is that I also believe in Rhea’s work and love her comedy," Esposito said. "So it’s also really fun to work with her and get to joke around with her for a living.
“We both want the same thing out of stand-up, which is to be seen and heard, so it was really amazing to work with someone who really gets you,” Butcher added.
In a television landscape where the death of LGBTQ characters has spawned the “Bury Your Gays” trope, "Take My Wife" is a refreshing addition to LGBTQ storytelling.
“We wanted to be honest, and our honest lives are that we aren’t just coming out, we aren’t sad about being gay, we aren’t secretly dating men, we aren’t trying to get pregnant, we aren’t dying -- and those thing seem to be the only storylines that have been available up until this point,” Esposito explained.
Butcher agreed and said she "wanted to show two people who have jobs and fears and a relationship and friends."
"I realized recently that ‘The L Word’ was my first group of gay friends, and I’ll always be grateful to that show for helping me to feel less alone," she added. “I just wanted to have some representation of lesbians who were struggling in their lives, because lives are hard, and also because being a lesbian is sometimes hard, but not ultimately dying to show an audience of straight people how hard it is to be gay."
Esposito posited having white, straight men in writers’ rooms and other positions of power are part of why -- even though there are more queer characters on TV now -- "they're limited in their their own experience in terms of what it means to be queer."
“What it means to be lesbian is that you live with a woman or that you are married to her and other than that your life is pretty much about the same things that any person’s life is about,” Esposito added.
Esposito and Butcher have made sure their series includes a diverse group of women. “We tried to make sure they had different skin tones and sexual orientations,” Esposito told NBC OUT.
It is important for Esposito to be part of the solution in regards to increasing the diversity in film and on television. “I think we all have a responsibility to honesty. To try to show the world as it really is going forward.”