By Kurt Schmierer
The choices you make in life that can have little or major consequences. In this comedy Marriage of Inconvenience two gay men learn the hard way that making the wrong choice (in friends, business, and love) can change your life forever. Watching two complete opposites forced to live together in a witness protection program shows just how a person truly can evolve from being a totally self-absorbed caterpillar into a, less self-absorbed, butterfly.
Being a very judgy critic of LGBT shows, I found Marriage of Inconvenience to be worth the watch. I have seen witness protection shows before like we all have but this one had a refreshing twist with action and comedy that kept me interested. In all honesty, most shows I watch for 10 minutes then move on to something else and never go back. However, the first ten minutes kept me guessing and laughing and before I knew it I was onto the next episode and then the next.
We follow the antics of Owen, played by actor Jason T. Gaffney, and Franklin, played by actor David Allen Singletary as they try to keep a low profile and blend into their new witness protection neighborhood, while trying not to kill each other. I had the honor of talking with the creator/writer of Marriage of Inconvenience, Jason T. Faffney.
TQC: The name Marriage of Inconvenience is great. Did you come up with the name first or the story?
Thanks! It all happened at the same time in the early stages of brainstorming. Most of the time when we work on something we’ll use a working title that changes several times, but that title, Marriage of Inconvenience—it was perfect for this story idea. It made it gel.
I’m constantly brainstorming comedic ideas with my longtime writing partner Ed (who happens to be my dad! Together we wrote both The Perfect Wedding and Analysis Paralysis) and we both recognized early on that MOI was a great comedy concept. What if people going into witness protection were paired up as married couples, to help them hide their real identities…? Let’s make those two people polar opposites…? How-about if one was a college professor, and the other a low-level, kind of townie drug dealer…? I knew I wanted to work with my good friend David Allen Singletary, and I also knew immediately that David would play the professor—it was in his wheelhouse. So factors like that helped shape the characters, too. With that, Marriage of Inconvenience was born.
TQC: I have seen you in “The Perfect Wedding” and “Out of Body”. In both, you either wrote and/or directed as well as performed in. What part do you like the best – Acting, writing or directing?
Thank you so much for watching those films! And that is a super hard question. I will always love acting first, since I started my career back when I was 6 years old in a semi-professional production of Oliver! But I really do love writing and directing as well. As a writer I enjoy getting to see the choices that the other actors make when they bring my words to life and as a director I love getting to collaborate and find the best performances from the actors for the story. Even though it can be tough, when I have the privilege to do all of them at once, it’s like having a delicious ice cream Sundae with all the best parts of production in one dish!
TQC: I love your character in Marriage of Inconvenience. Is there a little of Owen in you or is he a made up persona?
Thank you so much! It was really fun to bring Owen to life. I always bring a part of me into each character I play. I find that it helps keep the characters more real, and allows me to have more fun with the role. That being said, I have never been a drug dealer! Haha!
When we were bringing Owen and Franklin into WITSEC (witness protection) we knew at least one of them had to have a life of crime they were leaving behind. We wanted to explore the idea that many people end up becoming criminals not by choice, but by circumstance. Because of the unfortunate circumstances in Owen’s life, he’s got some anger issues—he runs pretty hot. He also tends to say what he thinks—not much of a filter. But he’s got a big heart, and he really wants to reinvent himself. Characters like that are always fun to play—and to write.
TQC: Do you like having the show compared to The Odd Couple ?
I love it! We didn’t set out to make a new Odd Couple, but once we realized what was happening, we leaned into it. Nothing says great comedy like putting opposites next to each other and seeing how they react in different situations. Owen and Franklin definitely have different ideas on how to solve their problems!
I’ve also heard people compare Marriage of Inconvenience to Grace and Frankie, which is a super high compliment in my eyes! Both shows are comedy powerhouses and the idea that we can stand even close to them is quite the honor!
TQC: When I was sent the press release of the series this part really got my attention —
The romantic comedy was shot in Los Angeles and is being called a 21st century gay version of The Odd Couple. It follows two strangers who enter a witness protection program and must pretend to be happily married in order to hide their identities from the dangerous people who want them dead.
I was intrigued and had to watch the show, especially since The Perfect Wedding is one of my holiday goto shows now. I figured this would be a good series, too! I admit I love gay rom-coms and I try to watch all LGBTQ+ shows. The first ten minutes, I was not sure what was going on, then I was shocked, then surprised and wanted more. I am someone that makes snap decisions of all shows, movies and books within the first few minutes to either watch more, read more or just move on. Without giving too much away what was the inspiration for beginning with a real rapid fire of emotions?
I love rom-coms, too! The classic enemies-to-lovers trope that we use in MOI is one of my favorites. Writing a series like Marriage of Inconvenience is vastly different from writing a feature film like The Perfect Wedding or Out of Body. That very first episode is challenging! Meet our characters—but we can’t tell you too much about them because we’re saving some surprises for episodes three and four (and five and Season Two and Season Three…) I actually outlined seasons two and three when I first wrote season one because I needed to know where Owen and Franklin were heading. In season one, episode one, we knew that we couldn’t reveal too much about these men all at once. The plan was for the audience to learn about Owen’s and Franklin’s pasts as the season(s) went on. But we also knew that we needed to start with a bang! (Pun not intended haha!) We really racked our brains to figure out a great way to give Owen and Franklin a fun and chaotic meet-cute—and to give the audience plenty of intriguing, unanswered questions that would make them want to keep watching. The more we see Owen and Franklin—and get little insights into their past—the more we learn that perhaps they’re not quite as opposite as we once thought…
TQC: Growing a series and having your viewers either fall for or hate the characters in a single season can be a challenge, but I really think you made this happen in only 2 episodes. In fact the chemistry of not only the characters, but you and your cast member David Allen Singletary grew and felt real. Did Owen and Franklin work out as you had hoped?
Yeah, again, having originated in writing and producing feature films, transitioning to the series format where you actually don’t want to give too much away while still keeping the characters engaging was a bit of a learning curve at first. I couldn’t be more thrilled with how Owen and Franklin turned out! David did an amazing job of merging a bit of David from Schitt’s Creek with Captain Holt from Brooklyn 99 while adding his own special delightfulness, and I took a lot of inspiration from Roy Kent in Ted Lasso with a bit of Alexis from Schitt’s Creek. And to reach peak Owen rage all I had to do was briefly look at my Twitter feed.
TQC: I get the Odd Couple comparison and I see a hint of Grace and Frankie, but I think this is more of Three’s Company meets Laverne and Shirley with a dash of Bros the movie. To me, the comedy is more real life over exaggeration. I could see this situation in real life! Yet, there were so many surprise twists! I kept thinking over and over “I did not see that coming,” which was very refreshing. How do you write this type of comedy?
I love comedy—and my dad does, too. We spend a lot of time talking about what works for us in movies and TV shows—what makes us laugh—and why. One day my dad was reading an article about Charlie Chaplin, who was a comedy master. He told a story about how he would film a woman on the street walking towards a banana peel. So now the audience knows she’s going to slip and fall, right? We see shot after shot of the woman getting closer and closer to the peel, and tension rises, because it’s coming, but as she finally reaches the peel, she steps over it—and immediately falls into a manhole.
So even though you know she’s going to fall, you laugh because you didn’t know how she was going to fall. We try really hard to write in this same way. Presenting an experience or moment where the audience has a hint of what is coming, and then twisting it slightly to get that laugh out loud moment.
TQC: Will there be a second season?
Fingers crossed, yes! I’ve already started writing season two. Lots more comedy and misadventures for the guys and their trusted US Marshal Diane (played by the wonderfully hilarious Tammy Dahlstrom) It really depends on the show’s success. We crowdfunded season one and will probably do the same again—that’s always a great way to support LGBTQ filmmaking.
TQC: What are your favorite parts of the series?
Gosh… These are always the hardest questions for me because each moment is a favorite for a different reason, but I keep coming back to the amazing talent of the cast and crew. We filmed Marriage of Inconvenience in the middle of the Omicron wave and faced many challenges in keeping everyone safe and healthy. Unfortunately our cinematographer Nacia got COVID and ended up having to DP from her home via Zoom. That was a challenge for all of us.
But the crew stepped up and made it work, and the cast showed up ready to play. The fact that everyone was game and able to produce this show with that giant hurdle says everything you need to know about the talent and tenacity of this group.
TQC: Do you have a least favorite?
My least favorite part is that I have to wait to tell the rest of the story! As someone who is used to the one-and-done of feature films, it’s been challenging to leave the audience with a cliffhanger!
TQC: If there is a season two, what would you like to see happen to Owen and Franklin?
Season two has a lot of fun and/or frustrating moments for both Owen and Franklin! Book club? That’s all I’m gonna say right now!
TQC: What other future titles should we watch for?
I’ve been working on a couple of feature films. Everyday’s a Holiday with Eddie is a lighthearted buddy comedy about suicide. (Yes, I know those words don’t often go together!) The second is called Dead Nazi in a Bathtub, where a group of diverse friends are throwing a graduation party and, well… It’s kinda like Snakes On a Plane. Everything is right there in the title!
TQC: Any last words for the reader about the series?
First thank you for supporting indie films and shows! Also, thank you for supporting LGBTQ shows as well! This world is improving and becoming more friendly to us in some places, but at the same time the opposition to the queer community is throwing more hate at us than ever. We need to stick together and find a way to laugh, because we need more love and laughter in the world these days!
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me and The QueerCentric readers. You can see Jason and David play their crazy characters, Owen and Franklin April 6th on Dekkoo.com