Stars: Justin Bartha, Andrew Rannells, Georgia King, Bebe Wood, NeNe Leakes, Ellen Barkin
Writer:  Ryan Murphy & Allison Adler  
Director: Ryan Murphy      
Network: NBC, airs Tuesday nights
Original Telecast: September 10, 2012

THE NEW NORMAL was creating controversy just that started just by NBC announcing it as part of the fall line up. The creepy, crazy religious right group One Million Moms (you know the ones that protested JC Penny for having Ellen Degeneres in their ads) was vowing to boycott the network for having a series showing this type of “gay agenda” program on its network. So, how can you not watch it to at least see what it’s about?!

The series comes to us from Ryan Murphy, creator of GLEE and AMERICAN HORROR STORY, and is the tale of two gay men who want to have a baby, and the Midwestern woman fleeing from her life that ends up being their surrogate. That’s it in a nutshell. I’m not going to lie, I was intrigued by a new gay themed show that’s so mainstream, but I also was hesitant, because GLEE (which started out so fantastic) has become a train wreck with only occasional good episodes.

So the pilot of NORMAL is cute, but you really don’t get a complete sense of the characters yet. Everyone almost seems more like a caricature or a walking stereotype and I’m hoping that’s something that gets worked out in the next few episodes.

The funny thing to me as a gay man writing about this series is it portrays mildly irritating stereotypical gay men, who actually remind me of none of the guys I am friends with. These are what my friends would call “First World Gays with First World Problems”. The fact that David (Justin Bartha) and Brian (Andrew Rannells) have a disposable thirty-five thousand dollars to just decide to have a baby that Brian can dress up is not a problem that a lot of gay couple I know have. And, the fact that Brian’s desire to have a child stems from his need to have a living doll to dress is a bad perpetuation of a gay stereotype. It’s irritating that this is all Ryan Murphy can put out in the mainstream. Why can’t they just be a loving couple that wants to have a family and have kids to pass their lives and experiences and knowledge to?

Ellen Barkin is terrifying and hysterical at the same time. Her Grandma Jane is a bigoted force of nature and she has some very choice one-liners, but again she seems more like a stereotype than a real person. Rocky (NeNe Leakes) manages to steal most of her scenes, but again she’s more like a stereotype as the sassy Black assistant keeping her gay boss organized with a snap and a head bob and quick one-liner.

The only characters that really seem like people are Goldie (Georgia King) and her daughter Shania (Bebe Wood). The chemistry between the two is fantastic and you love them pretty much from the get go. Plus it doesn’t hurt that Shania has some of the best lines of the entire pilot.

The show is adorable in spots, and just kind of over-the-top irritating in others, and I really am not a huge sitcom person, but I’ll give this a few more episodes because I like seeing more positively themed gay TV out there.


Related: TV Review of THE NEW NORMAL – Season 1 – “Sofa’s Choice”

Related: Interview with BOOK OF MORMON star Andrew Rannells about his new NBC series THE NEW NORMAL

Related: TV Review: ANIMAL PRACTICE – Season 1 – “Pilot”

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  1. I’m a gay man. I was a big fan of Nip/Tuck and Glee and since both were Ryan Murphy concoctions, I figured I’d love The New Normal. Based on the first episode I’d have to say I was dead wrong. The chemistry between/relationship between Rannells/Bartha seems contrived, plastic and acted. Ellen Barkin who could be phenomenal in her role just isn’t. NeNe who was terrific in her appearances in Glee seems just too stereotypical as do all the characters. As stated in this review, the only relationship that seems to work is the one between King-Wood as mother and daughter. So far The New Normal isn’t new but rather a re-hashing of old stereotypes that are neither funny nor realistic. For me, I’m summarily disappointed and questioning what happened to Ryan Murphy and his ability to keep my interest with something both entertaining yet poignant?

  2. As a lover of sitcoms and everything TV, I was excited to see a show (I had no ideas what it was about) titled, The New Normal because the title depicted something revolutionary. I however, didn’t find anything revolutionary about it other than a fresh new way to offend and sicken me. My Dish coworker came over and watched with my family, and we all had a blast. The two hour show was much better because we watched without commercials too. I used Auto Hop on my PrimeTime Anytime recording to select the skip option and it was heaven in my living room. We even had time to watch another show and it made the evening seem longer.


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