Rhea Butcher Talks ATX Television Festival

The other half of Take My Wife on TV representation

Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito, partners in life and comedy, are headed back to Austin for the seventh season of ATX Television Festival. The pair have a busy couple of days ahead of them, with a special retrospective screening and a panel on small screen LGBTQ representation.

Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito in Take My Wife

On Thursday they’ll be screening episodes from season two of Take My Wife, their modern, queer take on the rom-com TV series, and chatting with the audience afterward. On Friday, they’ll join a panel discussion on how – or if – the small screen is dismantling gender and sexuality binaries.

But before all the hullabaloo starts, Butcher sat down at their computer for a cute back and forth with me to chat about new projects, baseball, and – of course – binaries.

Austin Chronicle: You usually come to town as a comic, but not this week! How does it feel to be part of the ATX TV Fest as a showrunner and co-star?

Rhea Butcher: It feels great! Even though the show has been on the air for two years and the second season is now on Starz, it’s still kind of a dream. It was a dream to get to make this show, not only for myself, but for me and Cameron as a team. I think I have an interesting view of what it’s like to be a showrunner, since I didn’t come from Los Angeles or New York, and I also didn’t go to film school – I can’t wait to share it with people at ATX!

AC: You and Cameron are part of the “Breaking Down the Binary” panel, how has Take My Wife helped in breaking down those pesky binaries? And, if possible, what more would you like to do?

RB: I’d just like to keep creating work that discusses and presents a different view of what “being different” actually means. I want to see more stories from all underrepresented people on TV, phone screens – wherever. In all of my traveling for work, I’ve gotten to meet so many people and so many of them tell me how much it meant to see someone like me who was also like them.

Visibility is so important right now. It’s not the end goal, but it’s the first step. That saying “if you can see it, you can be it,” is incredibly true, and sometimes the “be it” is just being ok.

AC: In my conversation with Cameron, she said this binary breakdown isn’t happening as fast as she'd like it to, do you agree? Do you think TV is too quick to pat itself on the back or is it really helping influence and reroute pop culture?

RB: Look, I always agree with my wife! She’s very right in that I think everyone is very quick to pat ourselves on the back for being aware of a “new” thing, but the thing we’re missing is that it’s just “new” to us! Gender nonconforming people have always been here, nonbinary folks have always been here, hetero-boundary breaking couples have always been here. I think it’s easy to think a movement is happening fast when it isn’t your movement. I try to remind myself of that often and it keeps me on my toes, mentally and physically.

AC: Aside from ATX TV Fest, what are you working on currently?

RB: Well, I am always doing standup comedy and my baseball season is in full swing. I have a baseball podcast called “Three Swings” that’s real fun and is mostly me talking, so you don’t have to be a big baseball fan to listen. I’ve had a bunch of great interviews with some rad folks. And I’m also working on a really awesome thing, but I can’t talk about it – so keep your eyes peeled!

ATX Television Festival runs June 7-9. Tickets and info at www.atxfestival.com.

Take My Wife screening and Q&A with Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher: Thursday, June 7, 2:15pm, Alamo Ritz.

“Breaking Down the Binary” panel: Friday, June 8, noon, SFA Ballroom.

For news, reviews, and interviews from the fest - including an interview with Cameron Esposito - follow us all weekend long at www.austinchronicle.com/atx-television-festival.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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ATX Television Festival, ATX Television Festival 2018, ATX TV Fest 2018, Rhea Butcher, Cameron Esposito, Take My Wife, LGBTQIA

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