The cast and creator of NBC’s “One Big Happy” are just that. The new sitcom, executive produced by Ellen DeGeneres and created by Liz Feldman, follows a lesbian and her straight male friend trying to have a baby. Ahead of the show’s Tuesday premiere, the team behind it couldn’t be more excited.
“I have to say, I’m loving the wardrobe,” said Elisha Cuthbert, who stars as Lizzy. “To play a lesbian is great. You just have a really great blazer collection. I get to wear a lot of great blazers and a lot of great flat shoes. My calves have gone down two sizes since I don’t have to wear heels every day.”
Comfortable costumes aside, Cuthbert understands the responsibility of portraying the first lead gay woman on a sitcom since DeGeneres did so herself: “I was thrilled that Ellen and Liz felt confident enough to cast me as their lead lesbian, which is kind of amazing coming from two very influential lesbians. It’s kind of surreal.” As for the 15+ years that have elapsed since DeGeneres’ sitcom, Cuthbert thinks a show with this theme is overdue. “I feel like it should have been happening well before this,” she said. “I don’t like to think about it that way, but there’s a gravity there.”
For heterosexual Cuthbert, the prospect of playing a lesbian wasn’t as daunting as some might assume. “It’s like playing any other character,” she said. “She’s a human being with a heart and a sense of humor and I’m really zeroing in on what kind of humor she’s bringing to the table.”
Nick Zano plays Lizzy’s straight best friend, Luke. He thinks the show will appeal to everyone, not just the gay community. “There’s no agenda as much as it’s just a show about relationships,” Zano said.
As a lesbian who planned to have a baby with her straight male friend, Feldman’s art very much imitates her life. As such, it was important to her to create a lesbian role model that wasn’t a stereotype. “I feel very connected to the lesbian community, and I want to be a positive influence on them, and be a visible, well-adjusted person for them,” Feldman said. In a way, she hopes to pay forward what DeGeneres did for her. “When Ellen came out, she changed my life. It really allowed me to be more vocal about myself and to really love myself, which is really cheesy, but it’s true.”
As for DeGeneres’ involvement in the show, Feldman says, “Ellen isn’t afraid to give a note.” She went on to observe, though, that DeGeneres was a generous EP. “She gave us a lot of space to do what we felt was right. She trusted us.”