What would you do if you found out your husband of 21 years was gay? If you’re Fran Drescher, you’d write a hit TV show about it.
That’s exactly what Drescher, 53, did with “Happily Divorced,” her new sitcom on TVLand, which was just picked up for a second season. On the show, after learning her ex-husband (John Michael Higgins) is gay, she gets a double whammy when she discovers that he can’t afford to move out. The two must learn to co-exist together in their new relationship.
The idea for the show, Drescher says, was a no-brainer.
“TVLand [was] interested in having me pitch some ideas as a writer-producer, and the first thing they asked was, ‘What would be an idea if you were to star in it?’ And I said, ‘Oh that’s easy, it would have to be the relationship between me and my gay ex-husband. Now do you wanna hear the shows that I brought?’ And they said, ‘Why? We just bought that one.’”
At that point, Drescher says, she called her ex-hubby, Peter Marc Jacobson, and said she thought the two of them should write the show together. They had, in fact, already been working together on a movie called “Happily Divorced,” inspired by a trip they took together to Paris when they were no longer married.
You might think that working with your ex would be a nightmare, but Drescher and Jacobson’s relationship isn’t vitriolic. She says her 2000 diagnosis with uterine cancer allowed the two of them to work on their friendship.
“It has been at least 10 years, and I think one of the silver linings of my cancer survival was that it brought us closer together again,” she says. “We had been working toward reinventing our relationship. I think that it takes as much work to be happily divorced as it does to be happily married. Maybe you shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Reinvent the relationship and see where you were supposed to be.”
Follow Meredith Engel on Twitter @MeredithatMetro