Every time you think you can go about your existence and live out the remainder of your life without fear of hearing her voice ever again, Fran Drescher finds another reason to get on television. Her latest dabble into the realm of her patented form of “Dear God, please make it stop” entertainment is the TV Land series, Happily Divorced, a sitcom that centers on a couple who separate — but still stay together — after the husband comes out of the closet and confesses to being gay. Created and co-written by Drescher and her real-life gay ex-husband, Peter Marc Jacobson, the series is actually inspired by their own actual experiences — though I can’t imagine their genuine lives being this awful.
Fran herself stars as a woman named Fran, coincidentally enough, whose hubby, Peter (the great John Michael Higgins, no relation to David Anthony Higgins or Steve Higgins of The Higgins Boys and Gruber fame, though he is just as funny), drops a bombshell on her one night after 18 years of marriage. From there, things only get worse: Peter moves into the den (he’s unable to move out completely because of the economy and housing market), paving the way for one bad date after the other for both parties. Meanwhile, the viewer has to endure one stereotypical cliché after another. Worse still, Ms. Drescher tosses in a number of in-jokes that only her faithful fans will get, ranging from cameos by a number of The Nanny stars to references about her personal life.
Strangely enough, though, despite the fact that Happily Divorced is a truly bad sitcom, it’s still funny. That which is supposed to be funny is not, and therefore becomes humorous via that thing called irony. The gay jokes almost become witty because they’re so dumb, as do the various cultural pigeonholes: Fran’s best friend, Judi, who is black (Tichina Arnold); Cesar, a nosy Mexican immigrant under Fran’s employ (Valente Rodriguez); and, of course, Fran’s Jewish—or at least Jew-ish—parents, Dori and Glenn (Rita Moreno and Robert Walden, respectively). Notable guest stars who weren’t in The Nanny include D.W. Moffett, Lou Diamond Phillips (yes, he’s still around), and a cameo by Robert Gant (from the US version of Queer as Folk).
Put simply: Happily Divorced is one of those shows where you can’t stop laughing because of how bad it is. If I didn’t know any better, I could swear that Happily Divorced is akin to Blazing Saddles for its keen ability to satirize that which isn’t funny to begin with. Of course, that’s not the case here. At least I hope it isn’t. Paramount Home Video releases the 10-episode first season on DVD in a two-disc set with a handful of special features (more than most good shows get, that’s for sure) and a release date of March 6, 2012—a day before Happily Divorced’s second season premieres on TV Land.
Naturally, I’m going to have to check Season 2 out—because nothing this awesomely bad should go unseen.