It’s a case of art imitating life for actress Fran Drescher, whose new show Happily Divorced takes a page from her real-life relationship with her gay ex-husband.
The role of a wife whose husband ends up being gay is so familiar to Fran Drescher that in her new sitcom on the same subject, the characters have kept the real first names. ‘Fran’ is a Los Angeles florist whose life is turned upside down when ‘Peter’ (played by John Michael Higgins), her husband of 18 years, suddenly announces that he is gay.
In real life, Fran Drescher and husband Peter Marc Jacobson separated after 21 years of marriage. “This show is inspired by our story, because Peter is now living as an openly gay man, but Peter and I split up before he came out,” Drescher explains. “That wasn’t the reason why we split up, and I was the one who ended the marriage, and he didn’t want it to end. It was only after that, and The Nanny ended, and he moved 3,000 miles away and went into therapy that he started to connect with his true orientation.”
Speaking of when Fran and Peter reconnected, the 53-year-old continues, “He had already been living a gay life away from me after we divorced, and he said, ‘I don’t want you to be shocked. I’m dating men.'”
Turns out Peter’s big secret wasn’t much of a shock to Fran Drescher. “During our marriage he had told me he might be bisexual, but he wanted to stay married,” she says. “By the time he told me, I had survived uterine cancer. Nothing could shake me.”
Peter (the real-life one) is working as executive producer on Happily Divorced, and Fran looks forward to being his partner once again. “It’s great that we had the ability and the wisdom to reinvent our relationship. All those years weren’t for nothing,” Fran Drescher says of her gay ex-husband. “We’re very tight. We’re best friends.”