Kathryn Graham sees ‘Happy Wife, Happy Life’ & Talks About it with Co-showrunner Bridget McManus

by Kathryn Graham

Happy Wife, Happy Life is a streaming variety show that showcases how marriage is anything but the ‘old ball and chain’.

Happily married couples Bridget McManus Karman Kregloe (formerly of afterellen.com) and Cat Davis & Kristen Smith encourage you to play along as they share their opinions on everything from keeping old sex tapes with your exes to how to tell your wife she’s had a little too much to drink.

It’s kind of like The View, but a lot gayer, and it’s thoroughly enjoyable to spend time with each of these four women. It’s snappy, clever, and I laughed out loud during every episode.

Season 3 comes out on June 3rd, but in the meantime…

Check out Happy Wife, Happy Life Season 2 on YouTube.

Then you can find season 1 on Tello Films.

Happy Wife, Happy Life has been submitted for the “Outstanding Short Form Variety Series” category, and I was graciously invited to attend their For Your Consideration: Emmy Event.

I had a chat with screenwriter, producer, director and award-winning performer: Bridget McManus, and she had a lot to say about the universality of relationship quandaries — and whether or not you should argue with your in-laws on facebook.

What kind of writing is involved in Happy Wife, Happy Life? Do you have some idea of what’s going on beforehand or is it all off the cuff?

Bridget: Totally off the cuff. We have a submission e-mail account people send stuff to, so I go and vet them to make sure there’s no topic we covered before. Then I print them out, glue them to a card – I’m the one who does all the props – and then we put them in the bowl.

We don’t know what we’re going to pull. We haven’t talked about them beforehand. None of the spouses have talked about it. The only thing checked out beforehand is to make sure nothing is inappropriate or we haven’t done it already. Some things can be risqué, that’s why in season one we had safe words.

What’s your favorite thing about Happy Wife, Happy Life?

Bridget: I like that my family watches it. I’ve done a lot of series, but my family – they’re amazing – they pick and choose what they watch. I have comedy specials. I have a romantic series: Maybelle. My parents did not enjoy me rolling around in bed with somebody.

Cat’s cousins, a bunch of straight women, they drink wine, watch the show together, and debate along with us. It’s funny because it doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, relationships are relationships. So people in our families who are straight or however they identify, they can give their opinions too. If you’re in a relationship with somebody, can you have sex when you’re visiting your in-laws?

Karman and I were like: Hell no. Kristen and Cat were like: Sure, if you’re in the mood. And we’re like: Are you kidding me?

We debated over whether you have to throw your sex toys away when you get into a new relationship. I was like: Absolutely. Cat was like: No, they’re expensive! I’m like: What are you talking about? You have to get new stuff! Everybody has a different opinion.

If your in-laws say something offensive on facebook, do you defend them? Or do you call them out? It’s like: Ugh, I don’t want to curse out my in-laws, but I also don’t want them to write something negative that’s going to affect other people.

What do you do? Do you make your wife deal with them? Do you have the kind of relationship with your in-laws where you can talk to them yourself? These are things that you deal with in any relationship.

Happy Wife, Happy Life recently filmed a session in front of a live audience at ClexaCon in Las Vegas. It sounded like a lot of fun. How was it being in front of a live audience instead of shooting it in the studio?

Bridget: Cat Davis and I have been friends for many years. Her wife and her have been married for two and a half years. Karman and I are celebrating ten years this year, and even though we’re similar, we’re so different in how we look at things.

On the show, we have paddle questions that say “Yes” or “No”, so we gave everybody heart shaped paddles so they could play with us. Everybody has different opinions. So to see an audience full of people that identify differently – bisexual, queer, trans, pansexual, lesbian – some of them are in long term relationships vs. short term relationships, some of them are dating casually, and to see how they all relate and then give their answers, it was very eye-opening. I loved it.

The way we shoot when it’s just us, we’re just talking. We’re not performing. But when we were there in front of an audience we found ourselves playing to the audience more. So it’s a different feel.

So here’s my question for the Merstery bowl: What is your superpower? What is your wife’s superpower?

Bridget: My wife is so magical. I call her ‘Snow White’. Woodland creatures and animals come up to her and just want to be with her because she’s so calming and loving. We joke, but it’s totally true. At night, we have two dogs and a cat, and we all lay on top of my wife, and she doesn’t move. I’m on top bear-hugging her, one dog is between her legs, the other is at her head, and the cat lays on her neck. We’re all magnetized to her.

She is the most calm, wonderful, loving person ever. I recommend her highly to everyone. If you want to borrow my wife for while, she will make your life better.

I’m the opposite. I’m a mama-bear. I’m someone who, if I hear a fire alarm, I run towards it. I’m ready to defend people and protect people, which is very different. She’s a caregiver, and I’m the fighter in the family.

Nice Xena and Gabrielle dynamic going on here.

Bridget: I mean, it’s exactly like Xena and Gabrielle. Ohmygod, I’m so gay. Yay!

My masterpiece: Karman/Gabrielle and Bridget/Xena. I’m with Kate McKinnon on this one. Bridget does look a lot like Lucy Lawless!


Author: Kathryn Graham

Los Angeles-based television writer, TVWriter Contributing Editor, and lover of women. e-mail: kathrynagraham@gmail.com