During Ellen DeGeneres’ Q&A session for her new NBC comedy series One Big Happy at Winter TV Press Tour, a TV critic noted that the Supreme Court had, as the session was taking place, announced it would rule on same-sex marriage this term, and asked the exec producer to respond.
“Yea!” DeGeneres said. “It’s about time. The thing that changed the civil rights movement was when white people got involved and started marching. We need everyone on our side. We’re kind of trying to do this march, and we need people that believe in equality and believe in fairness and love. If we have people that will join us and give us that, which is only fair to have the same rights as everybody else, then it’s a wonderful world.”
Asked to discuss the difference between her 1990s ABC comedy Ellen and NBC’s new comedy, from Warner Bros TV and DeGeneres’ A Very Good Prods, DeGeneres said: “We’re setting out with a lesbian as a central character, so it’s not a surprise. … So nobody’s going to freak out, versus then, when it freaked out everybody – because nobody had a clue I was gay.”
In 1997, DeGeneres made television history when her title character came out in “The Puppy Episode,” at the same time she came out on Oprah Winfrey’s show.
In 2015, One Big Happy, written by Liz Feldman, revolves around best friends Lizzy (Elisha Cuthbert), who is gay, and Luke (Nick Zano), who is straight; they decide to have a baby together, but things get complicated when Luke finds the love of his life (Kelly Brook).
“This show wouldn’t be possible unless Ellen had come out” in that earlier show, Feldman told TV critics.
Still, one TV critic noted there is only one regular lesbian character on the series. DeGeneres said Liz is “too dysfunctional to be in a relationships” but joked that by the 2030 season, the whole cast will be lesbian, save one token heterosexual.
One TV critic referenced this week’s Christian Post op-ed piece in which Tennessee pastor Larry Tomczak called DeGeneres part of a “tidal wave of unprecedented evil,” saying that on her daytime talk show she “celebrates her lesbianism and ‘marriage’ in between appearances of guests like Taylor Swift to attract young girls.”
DeGeneres acknowledged that “there are some people who don’t like me.” But she said she did not form her production company and say “bring me all your lesbian scripts.” “I’m not going to just be a lesbian machine,” she said.
“I don’t wake up in the morning and think, ‘I’m a lesbian,'” she joked. DeGeneres insisted that she does not think of this new comedy as “groundbreaking,” describing it as a show about friendship and family — the definition of which “changes all the time.”
Also on the panel were executive producers Liz Feldman and Jeff Kleeman and cast members Cuthbert, Zano, Brook, Brandon Smith, Rebecca Corry and Chris Williams.