Thursday, August 30, 2012

Everything Is Normal (Television Review: The New Normal, on NBC)

"The New Normal" (Tuesdays at 9:30 pm on NBC this Fall, Starting September 11) has not even premiered yet but already it has already created controversy. A Mormon-owned NBC affiliate in Utah has refused to air it because of its pro-gay content, and a nationwide boycott for it has already been started by the group One Million Moms. Based on the pilot, though, I really do not understand all the fuss. On that level, it is pretty tame, and the raciest thing gay-wise in it is a smack between the two guys in bed, fully clothed. And the "abnormal" family concept is not even that original. "Modern Family" has been churning out the same idea for a couple of years now. But make no mistake, "The New Normal" mainstreams the idea of a gay extended family, and perhaps this normalcy is what these hate groups are most scared of. I don't think there's anything in here that would shock anyone. I mean, we now have a generation who grew up watching "Will And Grace."  This show is based on that mold, and it is pretty promising. I think what would make this is the fantastic cast. Ellen Barkin has the showiest role here, as a bigoted mother who frowns upon her daughter being a surrogate mother to two gay dads. It's one of those "ironic" casting choices: she is a fierce Liberal in real life so there's some delicious juice in seeing her as a conservative. (Alec Baldwin has perfected this scenario in '30 Rock') Andrew Rannell is fantastic: he is funny, bitchy, shallow but he is such a skilled actor that you also see the humanity and pathos in his character. Justin Bartha is the more alpha-male of the couple, and would seem to be the "straight man" in all the comedic set-ups. Leslie Grossman, as the surrogate mother, plays her role the most straightforward. There's even the prerequisite precocious kid here, and crazy sidekick secretary, the latter played by RHOA Nene Leakes. This is especially promising because it was created and written by Ryan Murphy, of Glee fame.  The pilot has me hooked, and I look forward to watching this weekly.

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