The New Normal is an important show. It’s important because it’s boring.
If Normal has a “gimmick,” it’s that it has gay, lead characters. Granted, this isn’t a common occurrence, but it’s not an especially controversial idea either (unless you belong to One Million Moms, who boycotted the show before anyone had seen a single episode). A gay, lead character in a prime time sitcom was a big deal in 1997 when Ellen came out, but the public has mostly responded to the announcement of The New Normal‘s concept with a resounding “meh.”
This could very well be a sign that gayness on TV just isn’t that big a deal anymore; maybe it’s finally beginning to look downright normal to the American mainstream. Finally, we can judge TV shows on how good they are instead of how gay they are!
Unfortunately for The New Normal… it’s just not that good.
The show is about several individuals who come together to form an unconventional family: Goldie (Georgia King) is a single mom who abruptly moves across the country to become a law student. To achieve her dream, she needs cash, so she decides to be a surrogate for gay couple Bryan (Andrew Rannells) and David (Justin Bartha). Also in tow are Goldie’s meddlesome grandmother (Ellen Barkin) and Bryan’s acerbic assistant Rocky (NeNe Leakes).
I’ve never been a huge fan of producer Ryan Murphy’s work. Glee and American Horror Story are watchable enough, mind you, but I can’t say I’ve ever exactly looked forward to them. Both shows went a little too far off the rails for my liking (though only one did so with a rubber sex suit).
The New Normal is a little more down to earth in comparison. It’s sweet, it’s just not especially funny. Much like Glee, there is the odd funny line every now and then, but everything just feels a little … off. A little hollow and bland. It doesn’t help that the stakes don’t seem especially high. Is Goldie pregnant? If not, I imagine she will be at some point or this will be a really short show.
The show’s largest flaw is its reliance on stereotypes, many of whom we’ve seen on Murphy’s other shows. Oh look, a sassy black woman. Oh look, a fabulously effeminate gay guy who’s dating a significantly more masculine counterpart. And do we really need another acid-tongued racist old lady? (Sorry, Ellen Barkin. I love you.) The characters are likable enough and the actors portray them well, but they’re just a little too cartoonish to really connect with.
It’s difficult to accurately judge a show by its pilot, but if the rest of Murphy’s body of work is any indication, The New Normal isn’t likely to get better with age. I might watch it, but I can’t say it’s something I’ll DVR.
“The New Normal” airs Tuesday nights at 9:30 on NBC.