In a moment of synchronicity at the Television Critics Association winter previews Friday, news broke that the Supreme Court would hear arguments in four same-sex marriage cases at the same time that Ellen DeGeneres was on stage discussing her new lesbian-centric sitcom One Big Happy.
Told of the Supreme Court's decision by a reporter in attendance, DeGeneres said flatly, "Yay, it's about time."
Friday's announcement by the Court indicates that a decision making same-sex marriage a nationwide Constitutional right is likely imminent. Currently, 36 states allow gay marriage. The Supreme Court will hear cases in April from plaintiffs in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee who are arguing against gay marriage bans in those states, and will issue a ruling before the term ends in June.
The world has come a long way since DeGeneres came out publicly on her own sitcom in 1997. Now, she's executive-producing One Big Happy, which stars Elisha Cuthbert as a lesbian who's having a baby with her (straight, male, recently married) best friend (Nick Zano).
"[One Big Happy] is not just about coming out, which is what my show was about. ... We're starting out with a lesbian as the central character this time around, so there's no surprise, versus when I surprised everybody. No one had a clue I was gay," DeGeneres quipped Friday. "It's a more accepting world that we live in, for the most part."
Asked by a reporter whether it was "challenging" for her, as a straight actress, to play a lesbian," Cuthbert responded: "No, it's like playing a human being, with a heart and a sense of humor ... who happens to have a great collection of blazers."
However, DeGeneres and creator Liz Feldman both said they don't want viewers to see the comedy to get pigeonholed as a lesbian show. "It happens to have a lesbian character in it," DeGeneres noted. "It's not like I formed a production company and said, bring me all your lesbian scripts. ... All I wanted to do, is put out really funny and smart and thought-provoking material."