“Happy wife, happy life” is one those relationship truisms you hear often. In fact, it is so ubiquitous that researchers actually tested the theory and found it to be true (really, google it). For lesbian couples, perhaps this adage doubly apropos since both spouses are wives. But how exactly do you keep your wife happy? Two happily married lesbian couples came up with the idea to share their marital experiences from the gay perspective, and the series Happy Wife, Happy Life was born. Bridget McManus and Karman Kregloe married for nine years, and Cat Davis and Kristen Smith wed for two and a half years, offer advice and insights from their own marriages. While the foursome readily admit they are not experts, they do provide funny, insightful and useful advice for maintaining a healthy relationship. They tackle viewer questions on everything from dealing with your in-laws to the proper etiquette for sex toys from a previous relationship.
I interviewed Bridget McManus recently about the series. We discussed the genesis of the show, the perils of talking about your real life relationship on air, dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets and so much more. The podcast is below and a transcription follows. It has been edited slightly for readability.
|Delina Roberts:||Today I’m speaking with Bridget McManus, one of the creators and stars of Happy Wife, Happy Life. Welcome, and thanks for taking the time to talk to me.|
|Bridget McManus:||Absolutely. I’m super excited.|
|Delina:||Great. Happy Wife, Happy Life is a talk show where you and your wife, Karman Kregloe, along with another married couple, Cat Davis and Kristen Smith, answer questions and offer advice about marriage and relationships. You created the show with Cat Davis. Can you talk a little bit about how you guys came up with the idea for the show?|
|Bridget:||Sure. Cat Davis and I have worked together for many years. She was one of my backup dancers on a show I had called Brunch With Bridget back on the Logo network, and then she had her own show called Cat on the Prowl, and then we had our own news satire show called We Have Issues. She and I go back and forth for over ten years trying to collaborate on projects.
When we were sitting down together just as friends hanging out, we’re like, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a show that had a positive representative of lesbian marriage?” Because a lot of times you’ll see lesbians, or you’ll see lesbian marriage, it’s always the idea of just marriage in general. It’s like, marriage is hard, marriage is difficult, you have to really work at marriage.
We are very fortunate we both married our soulmates and we both have really great marriages. So we’re like, “What if we did a show, it’s like a talk show, and we got to showcase our marriages and talk about the ins and the outs and the goods and the bads?”
Cat immediately was on board, and her wife Kristen was excited, and then my wife, Karman, was dragging her feet. She’s like, “I don’t want to do this. My mom’s going to watch this. Are we going to talk about sex? What’s going to happen?”
We’re kind of an open book. We do have safe words, which we talk about in season one, so Cat and Kristen’s safe word is “pineapple”, and Karman and my safe word is “stop it”, so if there’s anything we don’t want to say, or we want to close that door, we do say our safe words, but we actually rarely ever pull those cards. We’re pretty much an open book.
|Delina:||Yeah. I noticed that watching it. You guys talk about a lot of very, very interesting and personal topics sometimes. I know you said Karman had some reservations. Have you ever had any reservations about talking about stuff that’s so personal knowing that other people, strangers as well as possible relatives, will be watching?|
|Bridget:||No, I’m not very worried about it. My sister is also queer and married to a wonderful woman. My sister used to work at many different sex toys stores growing up, like she worked at Grand Opening and she worked at Babeland in Seattle.
We’re just very … My family’s very open. My parents, if there is anything that I say that’s uncomfortable they just kind of shake their heads, like whatever. It’s also a blessing that I’m a comedian because they’re like, “Whatever. What are you saying? Why are you saying that?”
I never really shy away. Karman is a little more reserved because we did a segment about whether it’s okay, if you’re vising your in-laws, to have sex in their house? I shared quite a bit about what we did in her in-laws’, my in-laws’ house. She was like, “You need to take it down a notch. We don’t need to go all there.”
Cat and Kristen, they’ve been married for two and a half years. They’re still figuring themselves out, so they are very exploratory, where we now, being married ten years, we’re more we have things set in stone. I love being married, I love being gay, and I have no shame in it, so I’m not going to censor myself until my wife tells me to knock if off.
|Delina:||Sounds good. As you mentioned, you and Karman have been married for nine years, Cat and Kristen about two and a half.|
|Delina:||Does that give you guys a pretty different perspective on relationships or …|
|Bridget:||Oh, I think so.|
|Bridget:||Absolutely. I think so. Also, Karman and I … It’ll be ten years in August. We got married during the whole Proposition 8 kind of insane part of our social history.|
|Bridget:||Where in California it was illegal to get married, so we were married. We were part of the 18,000 gay couples that got married, and then we were eventually grandfathered in, our marriage. Then of course years later other gay people could get married in our state.
I think part of it was advocacy and fighting, so we were fighting for our marriage. We kind of went through this trauma together because we couldn’t get married, so there’s part of that, whereas Cat and Kristen, and I’m not discrediting any part of their amazing marriage, it’s just … It’s such a blessing now that gay people all over the country can get married. They can just get married. They don’t have to fight. Hopefully that continues in the future.
I think we have that shared trauma, and also just being with anybody long enough you know each other’s ins and outs. We got married, we had gone through a lot, we’ve … Karman recently lost her father. We’ve just lived just a longer life together, so we know each other’s ins and outs, goods and bads, and Cat and Kristen are still kind of figuring things out.
We were just with them the other day. They were talking about how they have this rule, which I think in insane, where if they’re drinking they can make out with other people, which is not a rule in my marriage. I kept saying, “You guys, this is not going to work.” They’re like, “No, it’s totally going to work.”
It’s only because they haven’t tried it. They’ve been saying this for years, but they haven’t actually tried it. I think once they try it they’re going to realize it’s not going to work because they’re very monogamous. Some people are polyamorous and they can do stuff. I just know these two. I’ve known them for many years. This is not going to work, ladies, so let’s see what happens.
|Delina:||Yeah, that sounds a little dangerous.|
|Delina:||Although, I do remember them talking about possibly having a threesome with Idina Menzel.|
|Bridget:||Yep. Yeah, yeah. I don’t understand. I mean, I think the idea of it is always great, but once you get in there with a threesome somebody always gets left out.|
|Bridget:||I don’t know. I don’t know. I think in theory it’s fantastic.|
|Delina:||Maybe it’s one of those things you just have to try once. I don’t know.|
|Bridget:||Yeah. I mean, if they can try to have sex with her one time that’s a good idea.|
|Delina:||On your show you answer a lot of viewer questions. How do people get questions sent in to you?|
|Bridget:||Oh, we have an email that’s dedicated to any fans, friends, or family that want to send stuff in. We have Instagram, we have Facebook, we have Twitter. People write us questions all the time.|
|Bridget:||I gather all of the questions and I just kind of vet them to see if we’ve already covered them, but besides that, we set the questions and then we don’t talk about them ahead of time. There’s about 60 questions that are in the bowl per episode. We just pull two to three questions, so we don’t know what we’re going to talk about until someone pulls the question.
They vary from kind of who … How do you divide up the toys to if you guys were getting in a new relationship do you throw all your sex toys away? There’s a big variety of questions that go in there.
|Bridget:||We never know what we’re going to talk about and we never discuss our answers, so every time we do a show I’m always surprised what comes out of Cat and Kristen’s mouth. Every time I’m always like, “Really, ladies?” I’m not surprised by my wife. I know, kind of know, what she’s going to say, but Cat and Kristen I learn stuff every time.|
|Delina:||That’s interesting. Have you ever learned anything that you didn’t know about Karman during the show?|
|Bridget:||I did know Karman was a very patient, wonderful person, but I kind of know that she’s more patient than I realized because I’m very vocal about the fact that I went through an anger management program and I used to … I’m Italian, so I kind of give myself a pass, like, oh, I’m just passionate, but my beautiful, amazing, patient wife, she just takes deep breaths and she deals with me.
Somehow through this show I realized, oh, she really puts an effort in. It’s not just like, okay, whatever, Bridget. She makes an effort to deal with me when I’m being difficult, which I think happens in a lot of couples. Some people are hotheads and they over express themselves, and some people close themselves off and they don’t express themselves, which is kind of what Cat and Kristen do, too.
It’s just the dynamic we have. Doing this show every time it makes me just appreciate my wife more. I’m like, “Thank you for being married to me.” I said that to her right before you called. I was like, “Thank you for being married to me.” It makes me appreciate her more.
|Delina:||Aw. That’s so sweet.|
|Bridget:||I know. I feel really lucky.|
|Delina:||You also have a segment on your show called Wife Lessons.|
|Bridget:||Yeah, School of Wife or School of Life. Yeah, yeah, yeah.|
|Delina:||School of Wife. I’m sorry. Did I get that wrong? It’s School of Wife, not Wife Lessons.|
|Bridget:||Oh, no. That’s fine. Yeah, it’s called School of Wife, but it is wife lessons. Exactly what it is, yeah. It’s called School of Wife, yeah.|
|Delina:||Okay. You guys each show one of you talks about a bit of relationship advice that has worked for you in your relationship. I personally really like your suggestion about hiding love notes in your wife’s luggage. I thought that was really sweet.|
|Bridget:||Aw, thank you. It works for our family.|
|Delina:||Yeah. What was your favorite one from the show?|
|Bridget:||Well, one thing my wife does is so nice is that she kind of goes out of her way to do research on things that I would like, like I’m not someone that does a lot of research on things. I will book a trip and go, “Okay, we’re going to go to Hawaii,” and then after three days I go, “We’re actually on the wrong island because I was impulsive and I booked the wrong trip,” or whatever.
I do that all the time. I test drive one car and I buy it. I’m very impulsive, and Karman is very thoughtful and methodical. She goes through and kind of lays everything out.
She’ll do things like, I know you like … I love Brazilian music, so she’ll find out that some band that I like is performing. I won’t know because I don’t pay attention. She’ll say, “Hey, guess what. We’re going out tonight.” I’ll get dressed up and we’ll go and she’ll surprise me. We’re going to go see a band that I would really like and care about that I would never take the time and research for myself.
That kind of thoughtfulness I so appreciate because I just don’t … I don’t pay attention to a lot of things. Cat and Kristen are really sweet because their schedules can be opposite sometimes.
Sometimes they’re working nights or days, vice versa, so they do this thing where they always make dinner for the other person. They don’t even care what’s in the house. They just will raid the fridge and just make this … They call it their dinosaur post-apocalyptic meal.
They just throw everything on a plate. It looks disgusting if you ask me, but just the sentiment and the sweetness. They’re just very loving, caring people. They prioritize their relationship, which is what Karman and I do. It makes me very … Just feel very fortunate and happy and bubbly about the fact that I’m with someone that cares about me as much as I care about them.
|Delina:||You’re very lucky.|
|Bridget:||Yeah. Oh, trust me, I know. I’ve dated people before. I’m fucking lucky.|
|Delina:||On the topic of Cat and Kristen and food, what is the deal with chicken nuggets? They seem a little obsessed.|
|Bridget:||I don’t know. I think it’s because they both work many jobs. It’s a freezer item, so they just throw it in the freezer and then they can defrost it. Karman’s a vegan and I’m a vegetarian, and I’ve been a vegetarian for 15 years. That’s just not an option in our world.|
|Bridget:||They just love it. Of course, now the chicken nuggets come into dinosaur shapes and everything like that. They have so many chicken nugget stories it’s a little concerning. I don’t even know how much chicken is in these chicken nuggets, but …|
|Delina:||Oh, that’s funny. You guys filmed an episode of Happy Wife, Happy Life live at ClexaCon.|
|Bridget:||Yeah, we shot six episodes back to back. We just shot straight through.|
|Delina:||Wow. What was that like, doing it in front of a live audience?|
|Bridget:||It’s kind of amazing because I was a little weary because I didn’t want us to be performing. I wanted us to give authentic answers, because when we’re shooting ourselves we … There’s a little breathing room. There’s nobody watching us, so we shoot right to tape. There’s nothing to really edit unless someone says something terribly offensive, which doesn’t usually happen, or something that they decide in retrospect like, wait a minute, I don’t want to say that or share that.
To have a live audience you’re definitely playing for the laughs, which was my concern because I’m like, “I want it to be … Yes, we can say funny things because Cat’s a comedian, I’m a comedian, Kristen’s a performer, Karman’s a performer, but I want us to also stay true to the show.”
Having that audience it just … They fed us. They were so much positive energy coming towards us. We gave everybody paddles in the audience, so everybody got to participate in all the paddle questions. I might say no on something and I look out and I see a sea of lesbians and they all have the yes paddles up, so we got to have a little dialogue about it. It was really great.
|Delina:||Oh, that’s awesome. That’s awesome.|
|Bridget:||Yeah. We want to do it again. I feel like we opened a door. Now we want to only do live shows.|
|Delina:||That’s great. You filmed six episodes back to back. Is that going to be season three?|
|Bridget:||No, season three’s coming out June 3rd. We shot that at the YouTube space here in Los Angeles.|
|Bridget:||That’s going out, yeah, Sunday, June 3rd. Then, all the ClexaCon episodes are coming out early summer.|
|Bridget:||Probably a few weeks after that.|
|Delina:||Okay. Looking forward to that, then.|
|Bridget:||Thank you, yeah.|
|Delina:||Speaking of paddle questions, when I watched your very first show and you said that it was going to be a paddle question my mind went in a completely different direction, but …|
|Bridget:||Really? What did you think?|
|Delina:||Can you explain what the paddle questions are?|
|Bridget:||Paddle questions, we just have … They’re ping pong table paddles, so there’s a yes and a no. People write in questions, yes or no questions, all the time. We wanted to give it something very different than the regular questions because sometimes people write … Ask us really complex numerous questions back to back.|
|Bridget:||We wanted to give something where it’s like, listen, since we’ve been married different time periods we want to differentiate the … More the newlyweds versus people that have been married longer, so we though the paddle questions would be nice to have a visual effect to it.|
|Bridget:||A lot of times … Karman and I are … Tend to always be on the same page, and Kristen and Cat are always same page, but us as couples are different. We do the, okay, yes or no question, one, two, three, and we hold up the paddles. That’s how we get to discover what each other’s going to say. I’m always floored with whatever Cat and Kristen say. They are crazy.|
|Delina:||Yeah. I did notice that a lot of times you and Karman do sync up and Cat and Kristen do sync up. Everything except for having sex outside. That one Kristen and Karman were kind of on the same page.|
|Bridget:||Yeah. Oh, god. No. I feel like I’m the conservative one of the group, which is not how I see myself, but, yeah, the sex outside thing just seems gross. It just seems like this … You can’t really relax if your environment is at risk. At any moment a bear could come out and shove his paw in your vagina, like, that doesn’t seem safe. That doesn’t seem sanitary. It scares me.|
|Delina:||Oh, that’s funny. All right.|
|Bridget:||My real concern.|
|Delina:||Now, I can understand that. Whatever I see people making out on the beach, you’ll see those scenes in movies and stuff like that, I’m like, “Doesn’t the sand get everywhere?”|
|Bridget:||The sand does get everywhere, and people are looking. I want to be in a closed room with the shades … Everything covered. I want to have private time. You’re touching each other’s privates. The word private comes up a lot. It’s private, private, private.
I don’t want to be in public rolling around with sand in my vagina. That does not seem nice. I don’t understand how Kristen and Karman can even think that’s an idea, a possibility, because that’s never going to happen.
|Delina:||That’s funny. The saying happy wife, happy life is one of those truisms that you hear a lot sort of bantered about relationships. Can I ask your thoughts on a few other relationship truisms?|
|Delina:||Opposites attract. Yes or no?|
|Bridget:||Yes, absolutely, because I think it’s like the yin and the yang. Whatever I’m missing that other person has. They complete me. The idea that whatever I’m lacking that you’re fulfilling in me, so, yeah, absolutely.|
|Delina:||Cool. Okay. The seven year itch. Is it a real thing?|
|Bridget:||No, that’s bullshit. That’s ridiculous. I think that, well, the thing is the idea that your whole body has changed in seven years, it takes seven years for every single cell in your body to have died and regenerated into something new, so you are a different person every seven years. The idea that you’re a different person … As long as you’re with someone that you can grow with and change with and evolve with then you’re in the right relationship, so the seven year itch I don’t think applies to most couples.|
|Delina:||Makes sense. Lesbian bed death. Real or not?|
|Bridget:||Boo. No. That’s ridiculous. That just means you’re not with the right person. If you are not having sex with somebody it’s because you need to end that relationship, and because we’re lesbians a lot of times we are … We make excuses and we’re codependent and we want to care for each other because someone’s dad didn’t love them enough, so we get in these relationships where we become pals and we don’t … We want to protect them because they’re our family, quote unquote gay family.
Rather than just a regular relationship we need to learn to walk away. If you walked away you wouldn’t have to suffer in this lesbian bed death, but I don’t think it’s real.
|Delina:||Okay. Great. Well, how could people watch season one and season two while they’re waiting for season three to come out?|
|Bridget:||Sure. Season one is ten episodes on Tellofilms.com, T-E-L-L-O films.com. It’s the lesbian Netflix.|
|Bridget:||Then, season two, the six episodes on YouTube, available right now. All free. Then, season three is coming out June 3rd and season four, which is the ClexaCon bonus episodes, are coming out later this summer. I think they’re either going to be on Tello or YouTube. I’m not sure which one yet, but I will be posting it on my Facebook page, all information.
If anybody has any questions for me or if they want to submit questions you can go to Bridgetmcmanus.com to send all questions and any inquiries, so B-R-I-D-G-E-T-M-C-M-A-N-U-S.com.
|Delina:||Just out of curiously why is one on Tello and one on YouTube?|
|Bridget:||Well, I like to support Tello. Tello Films is … They have a pay wall, so what they do is every time there’s a project on their site what happens is anybody that subscribes, it’s $4.99 a month, if they subscribe that money that people subscribe to goes right into a vault kind of that goes towards making more lesbian content.
It feeds into them. We’re not really making money off it. It just goes back into, like, the circle, the cycle over there. I’ve worked with Tello Films since 2009. I did a series called Maybelle, which is a romantic dramedy.
|Bridget:||I have another one coming up called Alice and Izza. That’s a romantic comedy that’s going to star Guinevere Turner, which I’m really excited about. There’s a lot of projects over there. The great thing about Tello is they have two rules. Lesbians can’t die in the series. The lead lesbian is not allowed to die.|
|Bridget:||It’s a great rule, and if a lesbian is identified as a lesbian at the beginning of a series they’re not allowed to leave their partner for a man. If they identify as a bisexual person of course that’s an option, but if they identify as a lesbian they can’t end up with a man.
I love this company, so whenever we do stuff with them, because Cat Davis and I produced season one together, so we own it outright. We can put it on YouTube, but by putting it on Tello it gives back to Tello and it’s funding other lesbian and bisexual women projects. That’s my passion is making sure there’s as many queer projects out there as possible.
|Bridget:||Thanks, but, yeah, we put season two on YouTube just so people could kind of see what they’re missing. We’re also submitting it for an Emmy award for Emmy consideration, so we thought if we had it on YouTube it would be easier to see, because a lot of times people go, “Oh, I don’t want to spend $4.99.” I understand that, but that’s less than a beer per month.|
|Bridget:||I’ve worked with this company since 2009. I’m their vice president of development. It’s not a paid position. I have paid my subscription to Tello for the last nine years. I pay every single month like everybody else because I believe in their mission statement.
I believe that queer women deserve more queer coverage. If we don’t have to go to a network that’s run by a straight white man to get green lit, if we can just go to an independent company that’s run by women, run by lesbians saying, “Hey, you have an idea? Here’s a budget. You can make it,” and they don’t have to make it less gay or watered down or change the concept, it’s just like … It’s so exciting that this company exists. I really love working with them.
|Delina:||Yeah. It’s nice to just be able to support lesbian-owned and lesbian-focused businesses.|
|Bridget:||Yeah. When I did my series Maybelle, our DP was a lesbian. It was like that was so important. We’re going to do a romantic series about two women. They’re laying in bed together. It’s so important to me that my cinematographer is a lesbian. Although, I think that straight women and men, they can do it. They’re competent. I’m not hating on them, but it’s always my preference to hire queer female artists on crew and in front of the camera.|
|Delina:||Yeah. Makes a difference.|
|Bridget:||Yeah, I think so.|
|Delina:||Great. Well, is there anything else you want to chat about before we wrap up?|
|Bridget:||No, you’re awesome, though. Thank you for calling.|
|Delina:||Oh, no. Thank you for taking the time. I appreciate it.|