Chaiken’s friend Angela Robinson, a writer on “The L Word,” offered to introduce her to LouAnne Brickhouse, a Disney executive. Brickhouse was in a serious relationship, Robinson said, but knew everybody. They met at an “L Word” viewing party in West Hollywood, and Chaiken and Brickhouse hit it off right away. Yes, Brickhouse did set Chaiken up, but none of the dates went anywhere. The two women became better and better friends, and Brickhouse would give Chaiken notes on her writing — but Brickhouse still lived with her girlfriend.
“There was no impropriety,” Chaiken says. “I was not above doing the wrong thing back in the day. But LouAnne, who is a preacher’s daughter, would never do the wrong thing.”
Two years later, Brickhouse told Chaiken over email that she and the girlfriend had broken up, and asked Chaiken for a little time. They had never discussed their feelings for each other before, so Chaiken found the request “presumptuous.”
And yet …
“The minute it was out there, it was just understood that we were going to start seeing one another,” Chaiken says. She gave Brickhouse a few days. “And then I said, ‘Let’s have dinner.’”
Eleven years later, Chaiken and Brickhouse live in the Hollywood Hills, having married in 2013. Chaiken has developed a number of shows, ran “Empire” at its height and launched Showtime’s “The L Word: Generation Q” revival, which was renewed for a second season. Brickhouse has co-written a forthcoming graphic novel, “The Matriarchs,” with Jennifer Rea for Dark Horse Comics — about, she says, “a female race of vampires who, seeing that our world is currently destroying itself, must decide how to stop this.” A talented wildlife photographer, she runs the popular Instagram account The Daily James, which has a cast of characters that include insects, a blind owl and squirrels, as well as animals from Brickhouse’s volunteer work at the Los Angeles Zoo. (The account is named after a charismatic — and very photogenic — male raven who lives in their yard. “It’s not an exaggeration to say he has completely changed my life,” Brickhouse says.)
The quarantine, Chaiken says, and all the “terrible circumstances that have come with it, also are creating space for reflection that actually works well for writers.” Brickhouse feels the same way: “I find that we’re so busy in our everyday lives that we constantly miss the poignancy that transpires right in front of our eyes.”