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Ellen DeGeneres' new NBC comedy is not just a lesbian show

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ONE BIG HAPPY
Eric McCandless/NBC

NBC’s new comedy One Big Happy stars Elisha Cuthbert and Nick Zano as best friends Lizzy and Luke, who decide to have a child together right before Luke meets the love of his life in Prudence (Kelly Brook) and quickly gets hitched lest his British bride get deported. Oh, and Lizzy happens to be a lesbian. And famed lesbian Ellen DeGeneres happens to be one of the executive producers.

Much like the struggles faced by Ryan Murphy’s The New Normal, the assumption is that the comedy will be all about gay humor—though Lizzy does wear far too much flannel in the series premiere—but DeGeneres and series creator Liz Feldman insist the series is much more than that.

“Yes, there’s a lesbian character, but it’s a really funny show and that’s all I wanted to do, put out really funny material that’s smart and thought-provoking,” DeGeneres said during the Television Critics Association’s winter TV previews. “There’s so much to this show. So I don’t focus on that. I just look at it as a funny show.”

While the series is actually based on Feldman’s real-life experience of deciding to have a baby with her best friend, they will be drawing some inspiration from DeGeneres’ titular ’90s series, in which she famously came out. “[One Big Happy] is not just about that and not just about coming out,” DeGeneres said, joking that it won’t be a surprise for viewers this time around. “This is about a lesbian who doesn’t have a partner [and] wants to have a baby.”

Added Feldman: “What we’re trying to do is almost pick up where [Ellen] left off, in a way.” When pressed further, Feldman said she didn’t set out to create a groundbreaking show. “I set out to be honest and tell an authentic story that felt really true to me,” she said.

Alas, the critics would not relent, pushing Cuthbert to share what might be difficult about playing a lesbian on television. “It’s like playing a human being with a heart and a sense of humor, who is a little dorky at times and happens to have a really great collection of blazers,” she said.

One Big Happy will premiere Tuesday, March 17, at 9:30 pm ET on NBC.

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