By Adam B. Vary
Updated June 28, 2012 at 10:46 PM EDT
TeamHusbands Set Photos


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It’s a familiar tabloid story: Out of nowhere two celebs get married, and the media explodes with speculation and judgment. But what if one of them was an out-and-proud TV star and the other played for the L.A. Dodgers — the first openly gay pro baseball player ever?

That’s the premise of Husbands, the web series from Once Upon a Time, Battlestar Galactica, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer writer Jane Espenson and actor and YouTube star Brad “Cheeks” Bell. The first 11 episodes premiered last fall to wide acclaim — that’s no exaggeration, it got a rave from The New Yorker — and the response helped convince Espenson and Bell to try for a second season. Check out the first episode below:

“I’m not sure that we would have gone forward [with the show] other than that great response,” says Espenson. She and Bell turned to Kickstarter to gauge fan interest, and wound up raising $60,000. “Omigod, people have seen it, and they like it — they’re willing to go in their pockets for it,” says Espenson of her reaction to the windfall. “That’s an enormous gift from the fans.”

Fans weren’t the only ones eager to contribute to the show. EW can reveal exclusively that Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica), Sasha Roiz (Grimm), Magda Apanowicz (Caprica), Aasha Davis (Pariah), and Clare Grant (Blake Snake Moan) will guest star on the second season, which premieres Aug. 15 on Whedonverse luminaries Felicia Day (Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog), Amber Benson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Emma Caulfield (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Dichen Lachman (Dollhouse) also jumped at the chance to appear on the show, which Espenson says speaks for the quality of the material.

“My expectation was that it was going to be calling in favors, so I reached out to people I’d worked with and loved and knew were fantastic,” she says. “Every one of them was eager to do it, but not just as a favor. They actually wrote back and said, ‘Read the script, want to be involved.’”

So what’s in store for the newlyweds in season 2? First, it will be three episodes roughly eight minutes long, instead of 11 episodes spread out in small two-minute chunks like the first season. And second, expect the media to get some healthy ribbing.

“We realized there are two different kinds of stories we can tell in our show,” says Espenson. “We can tell the stories that you could tell on any show about newlyweds, which is really powerful because that sends a strong message that these stories are universal. And we can also tell stories that are more attuned to the issues of the day and play more off the fact that this is such a public couple. I’d say season 2 has to do much more with that, much more with them grappling with their role as people who are visible in society.”

Adds Bell, “A large part of season 2 is a commentary on television and what is considered entertainment and the double standard of certain groups of people.”

Click through for an exclusive first look from season 2, including an eyebrow-raising shot.

“You can clearly draw the line between the release of our show and [Barack Obama] supporting gay marriage,” jokes Bell, pictured here with costar Sean Hemeon. As it happens, Espenson and Bell first began planning their show right before the State of New York legalized same-sex marriage, and season 2 was in the works when Obama endorsed gay marriage and the NAACP followed suit. “We definitely tend to be just a little bit ahead of what happens next,” says Bell. “That’s always exciting to see.”

Tricia Helfer and Dichen Lachman prepare for a scene that Bell calls “one of the funniest moments of the season.”

“Amber Benson is also in a bit that every time we watch it, we just laugh and fall over each other,” says Espenson.

Alessandra Torresani plays Cheeks’ best friend Haley, who’s not always good at not being the center of attention.

“We see a lot of different faces,” says Espenson of the guest stars, including Grimm‘s Sasha Roiz. “And generally they’re playing parts that reflect the media world that the guys live in.”

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