The engaging Jason T. Gaffney talks Marriage of Inconvenience and answers the Socialite Seven
Dekkoo, the streaming service dedicated to gay men, will launch its new original series, Marriage of Inconvenience, on Thursday, April 6. The romantic comedy 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.
The show stars Jason T. Gaffney as Owen, a messy, street-smart dropout with anger issues and David Allen Singletary as Franklin, an even-tempered English professor who prides himself on his attention to detail in every area of his carefully structured life. About the only thing the two men have in common is that they’re gay. Now, living together in a very small house as Mr. and Mr. Fulton, they find they share something else: they can’t stand each other.
In addition to playing the role of Owen and directing four of the episodes, Jason wrote the series with his longtime writing partner, Ed Gaffney, who also happens to be his father. He likens Marriage of Inconvenience to Netflix’s Grace and Frankie, “because while some of the guys’ arguments are hilarious, others are not so much; and watching them slowly fall for each other as they navigate their complicated pasts and the very bad people relentlessly hunting them down, makes for a fun journey.”
Jason made it a point to create a diverse cast, crew and post-production team. The cast represents all aspects of the LGBTQ+ community and made sure at least half of the production team were women. Filming for Marriage of Inconvenience was done primarily at Jason’s real-life home in Los Angeles.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Jason grew up writing movie scripts for his theatre friends to perform. He moved to NYC to attend AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts for musical theatre, but ultimately found film to be a better fit.
“I hope people laugh out loud watching Marriage of Inconvenience, but I also want the show to make them think,” Gaffney reflects. “One of the main challenges Owen and Franklin both encounter throughout the series is to try to figure out who they want to be and to learn how to be completely true to themselves. I think that’s something many of us are striving for.
“Also, the idea that these two total opposites can learn to have an open mind, listen to one another and unite for the common good. We should all endeavor for such enlightenment.”
We had the chance to discuss the new series and get to know more about Jason in our exclusive interview.
How did you come up with the idea for the show?
I love making comedies! The real world is hard enough, so access to comedy and laughter is very important these days.
My writing partner (who also happens to be my dad) and I were brainstorming ideas and we came up with the idea: what if people going into witness protection were paired up as couples, to help them hide their real identities? What if those two people were polar opposites…? What if one was a college professor (Franklin), and the other was a low-level, kind of townie drug dealer (Owen)…? And then Marriage of Inconvenience was born! A fun modern-day Odd Couple.
What was it like working with your father?
I love getting to work with my dad. We started co-writing back with 2012’s feature film The Perfect Wedding, and went on to co-write Analysis Paralysis in 2018 too. We’ve also co-written a trilogy of m/m romance novels!
It is always so much fun when we get to write a script together—lots of “yes and-ing” each other and finding the strongest comedic moments for the characters and story. The series is easily our strongest work to date.
We have a method of writing where we outline the story together, and I’ll write the first episode, then send those pages to him, and he’ll start the first round of revisions. As he’s revising and polishing episode one, I’m working on episode two. As I’m finishing up the second ep, he’ll give me back the first one to read, and then I give him the second. We repeat this, over and over, until the episode is polished. By the end of the season, we have the characters and their voices realized so that we don’t need as many revisions, and it goes a lot faster.
How important was it for you to have a diverse crew?
Very important! This world is filled with diversity and different ideas and, in addition to being the right thing to do, by surrounding myself with people who have had different experiences in life, I’m surrounding myself with many possible solutions to the inevitable problems on set.
Way too many BIPOC, Women, LGBTQ+ people, etc. aren’t getting hired because they “don’t have enough experience yet”. But they can’t get experience because they aren’t getting hired. So, it’s a really bad catch 22. I’ve found that just because someone hasn’t had in-the-field experience yet, that doesn’t mean they aren’t more than ready for the job. And in a lot of ways the fresh set of eyes and ideas can lead to great choices or solutions. Also, by hiring diverse I’m able to help bring more diversity into the industry veterans group.
What was the production process like?
It was a wild ride for sure! We were supposed to start filming back in April of 2020, but several weeks before filming was set to begin… I think we all know what happened.
Well, we waited until vaccines and testing were available for the cast and crew, and then we were able to dive in. Filming during a pandemic is challenging for sure! Thanks to the strict testing rules on set (cast and crew had to test outside), we discovered that our DP had COVID on the first day of filming. She immediately went home—and ended up DPing the entire show via Zoom! That was a huge challenge, but the cast and crew stepped up and delivered an amazing show!
What are you hoping audiences will take away from the show?
Frankly, I hope Marriage of Inconvenience makes people laugh. (And I hope they want to see what happens next with Owen and Franklin!)
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on a few projects, but the one on the front burner is season two of Marriage of Inconvenience. When we partnered with Dekkoo to make this series, I made sure I had several seasons mapped out, so I knew exactly where Owen and Franklin’s journey was heading. I can confidently say that season two already has some delightful twists and turns.
Jason Answers the Socialite Seven
Who has been the biggest influence on you in your career so far?
Every single out and proud person in the entertainment industry. This industry is hard enough without being LGBTQ, but then once you’re out and proud it seems you often get pigeon-holed into only LGBTQ roles. But that’s problematic because productions don’t always give LGBTQ roles to LGBTQ actors. (My production company, My Pet Hippo, works hard to hire LGBTQ cast and crew!)
Yes, the industry has gotten better about casting queer people in non-queer roles, but there is still a stigma or a fear that the public won’t buy that a gay actor can believably play straight. There’s irony here, considering how many lifetimes many LGBTQ people spent doing exactly that—pretending to be straight! And there’s a double irony when straight actors, playing LGBTQ characters, are given awards and called “brave.” SMH
What talent or superpower would you like to wake up with tomorrow?
I’d love to be able to teleport (and teleport things I’m holding) so that I could travel the world with ease. Think about it! You’re on vacation and realize you forgot your underpants. No problem. Just pop back home and grab them!
What are three things you can’t live without?
Number one is pasta! (No, my husband won’t be mad about that being number one. On my OK Cupid profile, I mentioned pasta as being my favorite food like ten times and he actually asked me out on a date to go have spaghetti.) Number two is Matt, my husband and the love of my life. And number three is laughter. This world is hard and laughter has helped me get through many a rough patch.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Be yourself. You will attract the people who want to be around the real you. Life is too short to try and be something or someone you are not. (These are themes I use in Marriage of Inconvenience!)
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Saying a person was from another time as an excuse for bigoted behavior or language. Just because a phrase or action was socially accepted in the past doesn’t mean it was acceptable then or now, and the idea that we are exempt from becoming better people because of our age is annoying and unacceptable to me.
If they made a movie of your life story, who would you want to portray you on the big screen?
Gosh! I feel like the person who would play me in my life story probably hasn’t been born yet, since I still have a ton of life left to live and achievements to achieve. But if someone were to make a movie of what I’ve done so far… I think I’d love Jonathan Groff or Billy Eichner to play me… Oh! Or Murray Bartlett! Gosh, there are so many great LGBTQ actors to choose from!
What has been your greatest accomplishment so far?
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting an LGBTQ elder who had participated in the Black Cat Protests. He loved my film, Analysis Paralysis, as well as my production company’s mission statement: “We at My Pet Hippo Productions aspire to tell stories in a post-coming out world where the plot or conflict is not about being gay, but rather features characters who happen to be gay.”
He loved that my films and TV series celebrated being gay in that way, and he told me that this was the reason behind his activism, that I was making the films and TV series that he’d hoped one day to see.
We owe everything to the older LGBTQ people in our community and the idea that I made something that honored them in that way brings me great joy.
Marriage of Inconvenience premieres on Dekkoo on April 6, 2023. For more information, visit Dekkoo.com. Keep up with Jason on Twitter, YouTube and on his website.