By Megan Wadding, August 2018 Issue.
Same-sex marriage has been legally recognized in Massachusetts since 2004, and it’s been 10 years since same-sex couples were first issued marriage licenses in California (and yes, we all know what happened Nov. 5, 2008).
Still, to look at the wedding industry or at mainstream media you’d never guess that there are same-sex couples celebrating more than a decade (or nearly two, in some cases) of lawfully wedded bliss from coast-to-coast.
Addressing this underrepresentation was one of the driving forces behind the talk show-style web series “Happy Wife, Happy Life” (HWHL). The show, which kicked off its third season with telloFilms June 3, features two happily married lesbian couples who offer refreshingly funny and uniquely lesbian insights on married life – from “being a wife and having a wife, and being a wife that has a wife …”
Together, the show’ s hosts – Bridget McManus and Karman Kregloe, who have been married for 10 years, and Cat Davis and Kristen Smith, who tied the knot two and a half years ago – discuss and debate relationship topics in a lighthearted and informative format. But, as the show’s promo emphasizes, “Be forewarned, we are not qualified to give advice. We just like being married and we want to keep it that way.”
Created and produced by longtime collaborators Davis and McManus, HWHL was a result of a brainstorm session in which they were trying to come up with an idea for a show that they would actually watch themselves.
“We are both obsessed with our wives and never think there is enough positive lesbian representation out there,” McManus said, “And, voila, ‘Happy Wife, Happy Life’ was born!”
McManus and Davis have worked on shows – individually and together – and their credit reel includes “Brunch With Bridget,” “Bridget McManus Presents: That Time of The Month,” “Cat on The Prowl,” “Is This Awesome?” and the satirical news series, “We Have Issues.”
According to McManus, they are both comfortable with the talk show format. Luckily their wives were also willing to jump on-board.
“Cat’s wife was on-board right away. My wife took a little convincing,” McManus said. “She’s a private person and wasn’t sure she wanted to share our personal life with the public, but she knew it was important to me, so she caved. That’s what marriage is, caving and compromising.”
Since Season 1 premiered, McManus said the show’s received all sorts of positive feedback from single and married viewers alike.
“One viewer told us that she was using our show as research for her future marriage,” McManus recalled. “But the main thing we hear from everyone is that they wish the episodes were longer. As a show creator, that is the best thing you can hear from your audience.”
On each episode of HWHL, the four-woman panel answers viewer-submitted questions on topics related to lesbian marriage – from sexual etiquette to relationships with in-laws and ground rules for productive fighting to various ex-related scenarios.
The majority of the show’s content revolves around questions viewers submit via email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. While the questions are reviewed to ensure they don’t prompt repetitive discussions, McManus said they never know what they are going to talk about ahead of time.
“We just draw questions from a bowl and say whatever comes to mind,” she said. “The bowl usually has 60 questions in it and we end up pulling two or three per episode.”
At the end of each episode, which usually runs between five and 10 minutes, the couples take turns sharing a tidbit of relationship advice with the audience in a segment called “School of Wife.”
The show has been an insightful experience for McManus who, even after a decade of marriage, said it’s prompted discussion around managing conflict and differences of opinion within their marriages.
“We’re very compatible in our relationships, but we all have different interests and ways of doing things,” she said. “How do you find common ground with your favorite person when you hate her taste in movies or when she doesn’t share your love for socializing? Exploring those types of questions can be entertaining.”
It’s always entertaining, she said, to find out where the other hosts stand on some of the issues that come up.
“My co-hosts always make me laugh, even when they are wrong about everything,” she said. “In a past episode [Davis and Smith] both agreed that it’s OK to let your person keep a sex tape from a past relationship! Isn’t that insane? That wouldn’t work for my marriage, but I’m glad those two are on the same page in their marriage.”
Starting a family is among topics McManus hopes to cover in future episodes.
“Navigating family is always a tricky topic, and since [Davis] and [Smith] want to eventually become parents, I think they will want to share their insight with the viewers. [Kregloe] and I will be drinking on the sidelines during that segment,” McManus joked.
Another consideration for down the road has been introducing guests to the panel, to add to the variety of opinions and perspectives on topics.
“We are definitely open to having guest lesbian couples join the panel and give insight on their relationships,” she added. “We stress that we are not experts, so we want everyone to take our advice with a grain of salt. Pick what works for you and throw the rest away.”
Happily Ever After
McManus, who has been involved in the world of lesbian media via various platforms for some time now, said she believes there still needs to be more – and better – lesbian representation. And she is certainly doing her part to create new and positive content.
“There are many talented queer artists in this world, if only they would get 10 percent of the coverage that mediocre straight artists do,” she said. “So, we need to keep plugging along, creating the stories we want to see and hiring LGBTQ actors and crew for all of our projects. We have to create more opportunities for queer artists, so we can take over the world. That is my not-so-secret agenda for world domination.”
As for HWHL, McManus said she would love to take the series to a bigger screen, adding that preparations are being made to evolve the series into a full-fledged television show, which would entail lengthening the episodes by adding more segments.
The series is currently part of an Emmy For Your Consideration campaign and is hoping to be nominated for in the Outstanding Short Form Variety Series category.
All three seasons of HWHL are available for streaming via telloFilms (seasons 1 and 3 require a subscription).
For more information, visit tellofilms.com/series/happy-wife-happy-life.
Happy Anniversary: Co-hosts share love story
Bridget McManus and Karman Kregloe, one half of the “Happy Wife, Happy Life” host panel, will be celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary in August.
“We want to share our love story with our very best friends,” she explained. “For our five-year wedding anniversary, we had a vow renewal. This time we’ve asked each of our friends to give a toast or share a story about our family.”
The couple was married back in West Hollywood during the period of time in 2008 when it was legal.
“We were lucky that we were a part of the 18,000 [same-sex] couples that were able to get married before the hateful Proposition 8 passed in November 2008,” McManus asserted. “We secretly eloped, so no one knew we were married. We didn’t even have a friend act as a witness, just an officiant and a photographer. It was very romantic.”
Even though McManus said she knew the very moment she met Kregloe that they would end up married, it felt different somehow after they were able to tie the knot legally.
“[Getting married] made us even closer: her victories are my victories; her heartbreaks are my heartbreaks. We truly are a team. Neither of us can believe it has been [a decade]. It feels like we just got married,” McManus said. “Everything she does makes me laugh. Everything. She does a great Liza Minnelli impersonation, she’s smart, witty and, most importantly, she’s a weirdo like me. She’s a jackass and I just adore her. Every day gets better and better.”
Bridget McManus and Karman Kregloe on their wedding day in 2008. Courtesy photo.Looking back on a decade of marriage, McManus said that she believes one of the most important things for newlyweds to learn is that “it is better to be happy than to be right,” so choose your battles wisely.
“After you get married you see the bigger picture. Things that used to bother you won’t really matter anymore because all you want to do it keep the peace and have a harmonious household,” she said. “My goal in my marriage is to support and encourage my wife and her dreams.”
The hardest thing about married life, for McManus, is being away from Kregloe.
“You’re going to laugh at me, but … sometimes [we] travel separately and I desperately miss her after four or five days,” she admitted. “How did I live 28 years without her?”
Connect with “Happy Wife, Happy Life”