How's this for a plot? Fran Drescher and Peter Marc Jacobson met and fell in love when they were just in high school. And through it all: the success of their co-created show The Nanny, the dissolution of their marriage, Fran’s cancer scare, Peter’s coming out of the closet—all which seem like plot points for a daytime soap opera—the pair are back together again and closer than ever! And with season two of their hit TV Land show Happily Divorced—which, incidentally, is inspired by their real lives—these two are proving that relationships based on love and respect really do come in all colors.
by Mike Wood
It couldn’t have been easy to find the humor in this sticky situation to craft a sitcom around your divorce? How long did it take for you to make peace with the situation? FRAN: Well, actually when Peter finally came out it was two years after our divorce and I was madly in love with a guy 16 years my junior. It was actually a relief because I felt guilty about ending the marriage when he actually didn’t want it to end.
Since you are making this show together, can we assume you guys are friends again? PETER: Fran and I are soul mates. We didn’t talk for a year after The Nanny ended but the moment I found out she had cancer, all the anger dissipated and there was nothing left but the love. We have reconnected and built a stronger, closer friendship than ever. I am blessed to have this lady in my life.
Is this a case of how they say comedians sometimes find humor in their pain? FRAN: I think a better example is my book Cancer Schmancer which took me four drafts to find the humor. Through that experience I was able to discover that side by side with pain lies joy. We need to seek that out to create balance in our lives when times are tough.
That takes a strong person. Where do you find this strength? FRAN: It took four drafts but I kept being reminded things I had forgotten and I was not taking it all in. The first draft was angry and bitter because I felt so betrayed by the medical community and my own body. By the fourth draft, I was able to release the anger and find my true voice again.
Has making this show—and revisiting your past—been cathartic or therapeutic for you? FRAN: It’s nostalgic. We designed the set of the house we no longer have—which we loved—and Peter and I get to work together which we love. And we write about what we know, which is gratifying.
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Even though it’s got “divorced” in the title, would you say Happily Divorced is still a love story of sorts? PETER: Absolutely. That’s what the theme of the show is: love is love.These are two people that care about each other and respect each other. I feel if everyone in the world behaved that way and just respected each other, it’d be a better place to live.
What would you say to critics who might say that you are pushing a “gay agenda” with your show? PETER: The show is about love. Two people who love each other no matter what. There is no agenda here, just the fact that true love always shines through. Whether you’re gay or straight or anything in between it has no effect on true love.
The tag line for Happily Divorced is “The Laugh Is Back.” Do you mind being recognized by your laugh? Does it ever becoming annoying? FRAN: You know, I don’t mind at all. I’m happy I have a handle! And when I’m gone I think they should put on my tombstone: Her laugh made us laugh.
Do you think you or your show have the power to change minds? Specifically of those people who never thought about marriage equality or about gay people being able to fall in love? PETER: I hope so. We try to tell the story with humor so that it might be easier to digest for some people. I think fear is what always stands in the way of progress. When I was young, if you saw an interracial couple holding hands or kissing, people would talk behind their backs and some were appalled. Today, nobody blinks an eye. The more exposure people have to gays, transgenders and bisexuals being married, the more commonplace it will be. They will see that it’s no different than their own life experiences.
Fran, we adore you. Why do we gays just love you so much? FRAN: Thank you! Well, I think there are a few reasons: I have a flamboyant personality and style, that’s for sure. And I don’t apologize for who I am. The shows I do all seem to have a gay edge to them, too.
Are you happily single now? Maybe one our readers can find someone for both of you? PETER:Now that I’m finally at peace with who I am, and I can be happy being single. It makes me I think I’m ready to be in a relationship. So, yes, I am looking and if Ricky Martin has a subscription…I’m just sayin’...
Happily Divorced airs Wednesdays on TV Land. Check local listings for times in your area.