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The Comedy of Marriage
Posted May 17, 2010 to photo album "The Comedy of Marriage"
In anticipation of the release of Lisa Cholodenko’s comedy The Kids Are All Right, FilmInFocus’ Peter Bowen and Nick Dawson look at works across multiple mediums that also poke fun at the institution of marriage.
Slide 17: It’s All Relative (2005)
The 2005 ABC sitcom It’s All Relative might seem to be the next chapter of La Cages Aux Folles—two very opposite families abide each others differences for the sake of the kids. But it also finds its root in early American comedies like the 1930 Abie’s Irish Rose. At the center are a young couple with plans to get married, if only their families can get along. Bartender Bobby O’Neill comes from a working-class, Irish-Catholic family; his parents are Mace and Audrey O'Neill (Lenny Clarke and Harriet Harris) own the local pub. Bobby’s girlfriend Liz (Maggie Lawson), a Harvard student, is the adopted daughter of a persnickety upper-class gay couple (John Benjamin Hickey and Christopher Sieber). While the sitcom’s conflicts were about class difference than sexual orientation, its positive portrayal of a loving gay family gained a lot of positive attention. Lloyd Braun, the head of ABC Entertain Television Group told The Advocate, “I thought that seeing two gay fathers raising a grown-up heterosexual kid was a great arena for comedy….I wanted a loving family at the core.” So while the country was embroiled in debates over gay marriage, the series demonstrated that there really could be marriage equality, at least when it came to sitcom setups.