TV stars don't come much gay-friendlier than Harriet Sansom Harris, who — when not camping out on Frasier as Bebe, the radio shrink's agent — sings show tunes in Broadway hits like Thoroughly Modern Millie. So it's beyond ironic that she's now headlining the freshman laffer It's All Relative as homophobic matriarch Audrey.

"One of my friends said, 'That's why you were hired — because gay people know you don't actually feel that way!'" she tells TV Guide Online with a laugh. "But I don't think there was that much thought that went into it; I just lucked out and got this job."

Yeah, right — we suspect the actress's hiring had at least a little something to do with her great big talent. "Oh, now no one would ever say that," she scoffs. "Least of all one of my friends!" However she landed the gig, the humble scene stealer hopes that the ABC sitcom (airing tonight at 8:30 pm/ET) soon will be acknowledged as more than just a poor gay man's Will & Grace.

"Even though the central conflict is, 'How do these two very different couples get along now that they have to [because their children are engaged]?' it is never suggested that, 'Oh, gee, these people are just like us, they just happen to be gay.' No, these people are gay, in thought and action, and it does inform who they are and the choices they make. It is part of their makeup.

"That's what I think is so intelligent about the show," she continues. "It isn't just the boy-crazy aspect [of homosexuality] that other shows have depicted; it really is cultural and deeply ingrained. It's an acknowledgement of a gay aesthetic, and if you ask me, it's long overdue."