NBC this fall has The New Normal, with two gay men at the heart of the show who are trying to have a baby. Naturally there's been flack by conservative parties speaking out against the series, but I applaud the network for the effort.
Now if only I could say I love the show. Alas ...
I'm a fan of the man behind this series, Ryan Murphy. I was on board with FOX's Glee from day one (though I'm wary about the upcoming season, but more on that another time) and FX's American Horror Story was some super-twisted fun and looks to be again with the upcoming AHS: Asylum (could these shows BE more different??).
But here, perhaps the most mainstream of the three, I think it's almost trying too hard. It has a likeable enough cast and a good premise, and they certainly set up the story in the pilot episode well enough, but between hitting you with blatant affirmations and perhaps one of the most unlikeable characters on TV (Ellen Barkin's Nana makes Glee's Sue Sylvester look like Polyanna), it just didn't grab me.
That's one of the enigmas of this show. It's classified as a comedy, but that really doesn't fit here. Definitely not a laugh-out-loud program ... I didn't even chuckle. I'd call this more of a "life study" if there were to be such a genre. The comedy I suppose will come from Rocky, played by Nene Leakes (The Real Housewives of Atlanta, The Celebrity Apprentice and most recently ... you guessed it: Glee), who is doing what she does best - playing a speak-your-mind, brazen, confrontational woman who will obviously have many face-to-face-offs with Nana, and Shania, a 30-year-old in the body of an eight-year-old. She's a precocious one, but nothing we haven't seen before. And the Twitter references are gonna get old real fast.
Rannell's Bryan isn't as ... flamboyant as say, Sean Hayes' Jack on Will and Grace was, but he's definitely the wife in the marriage. He has a sweet face, you do buy his desire to be a parent and the two male leads make a nice couple. King is also sweet, but seriously, between her wide eyes and gentle voice and her affirmation-spouting nature, it's too much.
- When Nana asked what Goldie's daughter could learn from her mother doing this, Goldie replies "That you can be whatever you want to be no matter how many people tell you you're nothing."
- Another winner: "I need to help these guys ... and myself."
- And: "A family is a family. Love is love."
- Let's not forget: "Abnormal is the new normal."
- Not to be outdone, David had one of his own: to Goldie, "You gave us ... you gave me hope. We want to help make your dreams come true because you're helping us with ours."
I may give the second and third episodes a chance, just because I want to support (without getting to political) a program that does celebrate the freedom to be together regardless of what conservative society dictates. But the Nana character is a problem. I'm sure the writers are counting on using Rocky to put her in her place as often as possible, but you can't rely on that in the long run. And whether this will find its identity as a "comedy" remains to be seen.
Bottom Line: I can neither recommend nor condemn ...
The New Normal premieres this Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 9:30 p.m. PST on NBC