One of the more talked about shows being added to NBC’s lineup this fall is The New Normal. I was able to preview the pilot episode (watch it free) and I thought it would be fun to post a review about it. It is a bit of a heated topic, so I will save my impressions on the controversy to the Content section and use this section to merely talk about the quality of the show.
The New Normal stars Andrew Rannells, The Book of Mormon, and Justin Bartha, National Treasure, as a gay couple who desire to have a baby through a surrogate parent. At the opening of the episode Rannells is making a heartfelt video message for his child he might have. It is very tender. Having know several friends unable to have a baby by birth, it pulled at my heart strings a bit. But it is about the extent of any real emotion felt during the pilot episode. Rannells still acts well and is very likable. Almost a toned down Jack from Will and Grace.
Bartha, however, is not as watchable. He is very mild and dry in his role of the more masculine of the pair. That played very well for him in National Treasure as a quippy sidekick. He loses the boyish excitement here though, and seems to float around the screen instead as the sun stroke induced groom found after 2 days in the Las Vegas heat he played in The Hangover.
|Did you know the human head weighs 8lbs?|
The rest of the cast also seems to not be a very strong support. The surrogate they choose, Georgia King, is easy to enjoy on screen. She plays Goldie, a single mom who is trying to get a fresh start. Bebe Wood, who plays her daughter, seems to suck that joy out of their scenes though. I always feel bad being critical of kids, but my problem is with the way the writers created her character. She is the stereotypical, know it all, sassy pants that erupted onto the forefront of entertainment after that kid from Jerry Maguire rose to popularity after it came out in 1994. It has been done to death, and needs to go the way of the Buffalo, “What’s the deal with the new Tide?”, Yakov Smirnoff, and “I just flew in and Boy, are my arms tired.”
One character that has room for character progression is Goldie’s grandmother portrayed by Ellen Barkin, Ocean’s Thirteen. She is portrayed as a judgmental bigot who thinks she is above others. She speaks her thoughts without a filter, but I can see her growing closer to acceptance as the show progresses.
The mood of the show is very hard to gauge, it isn’t funny enough to be a comedy and it isn’t moving enough to be a drama. Instead is just hovers in emotional limbo. When Goldie’s grandmother, Jane, gives the big reveal at the end of the episode as to why she has such hateful feelings toward gays, it just falls flat. I would recommend the show runners start wrapping up plot lines, because I really don’t see this lasting more than a season. If it wasn’t for the talents for Rannells, it wouldn’t make it past the mid season break
Two weeks ago KSL, the NBC affiliate in Salt Lake, decided to not air The New Normal when it premiers tonight. Jeff Simpson, CEO of KSL’s parent company Bonneville International stated, “For our brand, this program simply feels inappropriate on several dimensions, especially during family viewing time.”
Although I didn’t find the show to be Pay Cable grade obscene, there was a scene of simulated sex, and the two main characters share light affectionate kisses. Language is appropriate for it’s 9:30pm time slot, but more shocking was the racial and prejudicial slurs by the grandmother.
I think the main things that got The New Normal removed from KSL’s line-up was the message it sends that a homosexual couple is a perfectly normal situation to raise a child in. But there is another message sent that actually is more offensive to viewers like me.
The characters are very polarized on their opinion of Goldie’s choice to be a surrogate parent to a gay couple. They are in either overwhelming support, or vehemently against it, like in the case of Barkin’s character. This message hurts the story telling. The show really needs a middle ground to help those in the middle identify with a character. There seems to be a message that if you don’t agree with gay behavior, you must hate gay people. I have gay people in my life and I love them just like my other friends. I don’t agree with their choices, just like I don’t agree with the choice some of my friends have made to drink, vote for Barrack Obama, or wear a blue shirt to Church! But to say I must hate them is offensive to me.
Although I don’t necessarily agree with the choice KSL has made to ban the show based on the message it sends. Also do not agree the message the show sends either. If they would have said, we know our demographic and we feel a different show in that time slot would create more ad revenue it would make a lot more sense. But I agree with what the Lord has said about families in the Family Proclamation. “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”
We live in a world where not every child gets that opportunity though. Some are born into families of drug and alcohol addiction, abuse, teen moms, absent fathers, and some babies are killed before they even have a chance at life. Do I think a child can find happiness and love with a family of same sex parents? You bet I do! But do I think it is the “New Normal?” I hope not.