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Bryan Cain-Jackson

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Peter Marc Jacobson and the Story Behind Happily Divorced

Posted: 01/17/2013 6:36 pm

Have you ever wondered how many TV sitcom plotlines are based on fact? I have, and I just don't think people would honestly have bought the situations behind Three's Company and Bosom Buddies in real life.

The Fran Drescher sitcom Happily Divorced, now in its second season on TV Land, is indeed based on fact. Yes, as hilarious as the entire situation is -- it's true!

The series follows a couple (Fran and Peter) trying to move on with their lives after 18 years of marriage after the husband has confessed that he is gay.

While I may refer to the show as wildly hilarious, you might think it's because of Fran and her amazing cast -- yes, that's a huge part. However, this series is one of the best examples of good comedy writing; taking a dark spot in life and finding the humorous irony that lies within it.

Fran and her ex-husband, Peter Marc Jacobson created the series together.

They were married for 20 years before Peter went on a journey to discover who he truly was. When Peter opened up about being gay, the press tried to exploit it, as would be expected. Fran stood by Peter as they remained friends and handled the matter with class.

Peter and I conversed about that time in their lives and how it brought them to making another wonderful show for audiences to enjoy.

It's really a pleasure to be able to talk to you today, Peter. Thanks for taking the time. It's always a pleasure to meet another writer.

Likewise, Bryan, thank you for taking the time.

I just have to tell you that I think it's incredible that you and Fran have been able to remain friends, work together and have a sense of humor about what most people would consider devastating. In a way, the both of you serve as a model for divorced couples -- as crazy as that sounds.

Well, the two of us have been through some stuff throughout our lives. Fran had cancer, we were both the victims of a terrible crime -- we were faced with the really devastating things. The thing is that we both still love each other and want to try and turn it into something positive. The love is there and it always was there. It just may not have ended the way a fairy tale ends.

How did you feel about everything at that time?

I didn't want the divorce -- she did. I was happy living in my denial. When she wanted the divorce, I had gotten angry because that meant I was going to have to face who I really was. I wasn't leading a double life. I was married to Fran and I was a faithful man.

After the divorce, what happened? What made you feel that you were living in denial?

I was dating some other women after the divorce and I really wasn't feeling it. In fact, some friends wanted to fix me up with Sharon Stone, and I said no. That's when I knew that something was wrong. If I was heterosexual, then I'd definitely want to get with Sharon Stone [laughs]. So, that was my first big clue. I knew that I hadn't been truthful and that I needed to do some soul-searching.

There was that time after the divorce for each of you to collect yourselves. What was the next step in your relationship?

It was when I found out that Fran had cancer, all the anger had gone away. She was already dating someone else and very happy with him, he was much younger and better looking than I am [laughs]. I immediately reached out to her and I wanted her to know that I loved her and that I was there if she wanted me to be. We eventually did speak and we managed to have a better friendship and love for each other than we ever did.

That's amazing, Peter. We obviously don't need to ask how things ended up.

You don't need a license to love each other. Space can be a good thing. We see each other all the time, we vacation with each other, we work together -- we did that during The Nanny, maybe it was too much then. I think we just met when we were very young, I didn't know who I was yet; she was afraid to be alone, and so we were the perfect storm.

The perfect creative storm as well; first The Nanny, which was impossible not to love, and now Happily Divorced, which is outrageously funny.

People related to The Nanny because it was about love, it's the same with Happily Divorced. It's also because Fran is so beloved. Men and women can look at her and say 'Wow, look at all she's been through.' She's literally turned lemons into lemonade. That's always been Fran's attitude, to ask what we can do here to make this a positive experience. Everyone goes through crap, divorce, health and many different things. Hopefully, you can find the silver lining in there that can help.

You have a stellar cast on Happily Divorced. My love for Fran goes without saying. John Michael Higgins has made me laugh out loud in everything I've ever seen him do and Tichina Arnold is hilarious and looking just as fine as ever.

We are so fortunate to have all of them. There are no egos. It's all about what's best for the show. No one cares about how many lines they have.

So, what are some of the fundamental differences between running a show on cable vs. one of the big four networks?

Well, the big four obviously have a lot more money for advertising. TV Land has been incredibly supportive from day one. They let us do a lot with underlying messages of positivity and love. It's great. When Fran and I were pitching ideas to them for shows, they stopped her and asked her if she was to star in a series, what would it be? She told them that it would be about her gay ex-husband, her and her boyfriend. They bought it right then and there, on the spot.

If you're not already doing so, catch Happily Divorced for more than your share of a few good laughs on TV Land, Wednesday nights at 10:30/9:30 p.m. Central.

 

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