TV Review: The New Normal

When I first heard that NBC was going to air a new series about a gay couple having a baby with a surrogate, I was hopeful. It's been a long time since the controversy surrounding the infamous "Ellen" episode where she came out (I had to watch this on a satellite dish since I was in Alabama at the time and it was banned). There have been many series with gay characters from "Will and Grace" to the current "Modern Family" that are now mainstream and more accepted by the viewing audience as a whole. So needless to say, I was looking forward to "The New Normal" which is set to premiere on NBC on September 11 at 9:30/8:30c. But I am sad to report that this series isn't good. Not only is it not good, it's hardly watchable. And not because of the subject matter.

The show is rife with stereotypes. The gay couple, Bryan (played by Andrew Rannells from "Girls") and David (played by Justin Bartha from "The Hangover"), have no chemistry together. Bryan is laughable (and not in a good way) as the more effeminate of the two. And true to stereotypes, David is the more masculine of the two, enjoying his football and indulging Bryan's "little eccentricities". Contrary to the wonderfully complex gay couple on Modern Family, these two are unbelievable as a couple and as real people.

Of course, the men decide to have a baby and go to the park to discuss whether or not it is a good idea to have a "nontraditional" family. Cue the montage of "nontraditional" families at the park: the deaf couple, the dwarf mom with her non-dwarf daughter, and the older mom who has given up her whoring ways to take fertility drugs to have triplets. Ugh. At this point, I turned the show off and had to take something for my headache no doubt brought on by the utter lack of redeeming value in this show.

But it wouldn't be TV if there wasn't a bigot to cause trouble and that's where Nana (played by Ellen Barkin) comes in. She's the grandmother of Goldie (played by Georgia King), the girl chosen to be the surrogate. From the minute she appears onscreen, she spews every single bigoted comment about every single minority group you can imagine (and a few you can't). And not in a funny way. Before I get comments, let me say that I find bigotry of any kind deplorable. But occasionally they can mirror the ugliness in society and make us laugh at the same time. Like Archie Bunker. But Nana is no Archie Bunker. She's just a closed-minded idiot who doesn't have any filters.

Goldie already has one child, Shania (played by Bebe Wood). And true to the rest of the show, she is the kind of child you only see in the movies and on TV. Mature beyond her years, she is the rock her mother leans on. She is able to put her own needs aside and go along with her mother as they drive across country with absolutely no plan and no money. She never gets hungry or tired and never has a tantrum. In other words, totally unbelievable.

The only light in this otherwise waste of a show is Bryan's assistant, Rocky (played by Nene Leakes from "The Real Housewives of Atlanta). I was so surprised to see Nene acting in this show. I was already familiar with her from "Housewives" but I didn't know she was acting. She has the only lines worth hearing in the whole pilot episode, and she delivers them like a pro. It makes me wish they would develop a show around her. Unfortunately, she's not on the screen very much.

If you decide to sit through the whole episode, you can expect long speeches about how Goldie is going to turn her life around, and about how Nana discovered that her husband was gay (spoiler alert), and about how Bryan wants David to be the sperm donor because he's the nicest person he knows. All of it fell so flat and superficial, it made me want to throw up. There. I just threw up.

So as much as I wanted to be able to get behind this new series, I can't do it. I would only recommend watching it if you are a fan of Nene, but even then I'd have to apologize to you for making you sit through the rest of the dreck. I will give you a link to download it free on iTunes if you so desire, but don't say you weren't warned!

The New Normal, Season 1 - The New Normal

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