A gay woman and straight guy decide to have a baby together — and right after insemination, he meets a wild British woman and they fall in love and into a green card marriage... the premise for NBC's new comedy One Big Happy sounds like the setup for a really outdated joke. But, against all odds, One Big Happy is based on a true story. Well, kind of a true story. It is creator Liz Feldman's Sliding Doors version of her life, if instead of becoming a writer, she'd gone through with her plan to settle down and have a baby with her best friend. In real life, Feldman's BFF got married before they'd actually gone through with their pregnancy, but had things been timed a little worse, she could have been just like Elisha Cuthbert's character (who's named Lizzy, appropriately), dealing with a new pregnancy and a new housemate at the same time. Of course, because it's a sitcom, things are dialed up to 11, so Lizzy is persnickety and blonde, while Prudence, her friend's new wife, is a free spirit who loves to walk around naked.
Ellen DeGeneres is a producer on the show, and she's been very quick to deny that she's looking to exclusively work on shows with LGBT characters or themes. But it's impossible to deny that without a famous producer like Ellen that One Big Happy might have been overlooked, as shows with LGBT protagonists often are. After all, the last sitcom with a very similar premise, The New Normal also had a famous producer, Ryan Murphy, who served as showrunner on the series.
The biggest thing One Big Happy has in common with Liz Feldman's actual life is that the idea of this being a shocking premise is right out of the late '90s. Which kind of gets at the heart of why One Big Happy feels so retrograde — usually when TV tries to push boundaries, it does so with a subtler hand. Looking has an ensemble almost entirely made up of gay men, just living their lives. Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Captain Holt defies every stereotype about gay men ever written.
And as much as Glee hit LGBT themes with a bus instead of a hammer, even The New Normal added Ryan Murphy's crass insult humor that, while not always funny, at least felt current. And they managed to rope in Andrew Rannells and Ellen Barkin, who were fantastic at delivering a punchline. And the daughter's Little Edie impression was phenomenal.
No matter how true One Big Happy's premise is, it still doesn't feel very fresh — but that just goes to show how far behind the networks are when it comes to representing non-nuclear families on TV.
Images: Eric McCandless/NBC; Giphy