I had the opportunity to sit down with Alicia J. Rose, director and co-writer of the new charming webseries The Benefits of Gusbandry, and talk to her about creating the show.
PQ: What was the inspiration for this project?
Alicia J. Rose: In January my real-life gusband Lake Perriguey and I took a trip to Thailand. We strolled on the beach together, had dinner together, got couples massages together and I thought, “This is the honeymoon I always dreamed of.” After I got back, I did a film workshop with Diane Bell. She told me, “Don’t move. Don’t change your life. Don’t think you gotta change anything to have the idea. Speak from the heart and show us who you are.” Around this same time, Bob Mould came to Portland. I asked him how he found his point of view as an artist and he said: “You have to remember that the time you take experiencing life is how you figure out what your point of view is.” So I started developing the story of finding my first gusband and why this relationship mattered.
PQ: Do you see a lot of yourself in Jackie?
Rose: It’s based on my life, but it’s not autobiographical. Jackie is not me, and River is not Lake, but she is influenced by my experiences and how I see the world as a 40-year-old plus woman. Courtney Hameiste (co-writer) has also brought a lot of her own life to Jackie. Sometimes we fall down the rabbit hole together writing. It’s fun to use Jackie as an avatar to take bigger chances then we ever would. I’d never go to the glory holes at Fantasy Video on Sandy, but she would. It happens in episode three.
PQ: Do you have the whole show done?
Rose: We have the whole season written out and the first four episodes done. We’ll film the last four this winter. They premiere monthly because we don’t have a budget and everyone has other jobs.
PQ: Do you think you could have set it in another city? Or do you think it had to be Portland?
Rose: The thing about Portland as a character is that we’re really into craft here, the nerdiness of how things are made, and how that defines us. In episode three Jackie sends River to Salt & Straw to wait in line for ice cream. It’s taken to extremes cause it’s TV, but these are real things. It’s torture to wait in line at Salt & Straw on a date if it isn’t going well.
PQ: The idea of gusbands, or the gay best friend, isn’t new. What’s your opinion on how these relationships have been portrayed in the media?
Rose: It may not be a new idea, but it’s not an idea that’s really represented in the media at all. There are so few heartfelt and funny versions of this relationship that aren’t satire based, like Jaimé & Ilana in Broad City. The different thing about our show is that the relationship between gusband and swife is front and center in the show. In Will & Grace, they were always looking for other relationships. This a primary relationship. Not periphery. As incredibly common as this relationship is there’s very little out here that hits the nail on the head.
PQ: Yeah, a lot of these relationships in mainstream media are portrayed where the gay friend is as comic relief/narrative device to make the woman feel good…
Rose: While she tries to find a husband. But guess what? Some of us don’t want husbands. The great thing about this show is sharing something that’s very normal in a very funny way that doesn’t pull any punches.
You can watch The Benefits of Gusbandry on YouTube.