'The New Normal' Review: Avoid This Preachy, Harsh 'Comedy'
'The New Normal' Review: Avoid This Preachy, Harsh 'Comedy'
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
I wanted to like The New Normal. With good actors, an interesting premise and lots of promotion, Ryan Murphy's new NBC comedy sounded like a winner.

It's not. The New Normal is terrible. And I shudder to think what harm this show could do to homosexual rights and to comedy. It's really that bad.

Here's the premise: Two gay men, Bryan and David (Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha), decide to have a child after Bryan decides babies are the perfect accessory. For obvious reasons, they need a surrogate. Enter Goldie (Georgia King). An impossibly lovely young woman with no prospects and a young daughter (Bebe Wood), Georgia once saw a lesbian couple with a child and now wants nothing more than to act as a surrogate for homosexual men.

Also, there are two extremely abrasive women around -- Bryan's secretary, Rocky (NeNe Leakes) and Goldie's grandmother, Jane (Ellen Barkin). Just consider them the opposing Greek choruses of the masses (as imagined by the totally reality-skewed mind of Ryan Murphy).

So what do we get from this? Unfortunately for the solid cast and socially relevant premise, the net result of The New Normal is garbage. Preachy, rarely funny garbage.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for the portrayal of mainstreamed gay couples on TV, and the issue of homosexual couples having children is definitely something that television can and should address. But this is not the way to go about it.

Not only does The New Normal fail to offer a reason for homophobes to reconsider their opinions, it might even offend those who would stand behind the spirit of this show. Whatever my actual feelings on homosexuals with children (I think it's fine, for the record.), The New Normal has now inserted a feeling of dislike for me.

There's nothing funny about that.

This might be redeemable if the rest of The New Normal were hilarious. It's not. For the most part, the show veers out-of-control between offensive -- get ready for every bigoted thing you've ever heard (and then some) every time Jane opens her mouth -- and preachy -- there is seriously a segment in which random couples on a playground speak to the camera about why they're not "normal."

You know what the really sad part about The New Normal is? With only a few changes in tone and focus, this could be a really good comedy. The acting is mostly solid -- leaving aside the dubious acting skills of NeNe Leakes, this is an incredible cast. They have Ellen Barkin, for Pete's sake! And Barkin has Andrew Rannells (beloved to many for The Book of Mormon on Broadway), Justin Bartha and Georgia King around her, all acting their hearts out.

Even some of the set pieces in The New Normal work. A scene near the beginning in which Goldie finds her man with another woman ("I was gone six minutes.") actually brings laughter. Then there are genuinely touching moments between the characters when discussing their upcoming child.

There is potential here. Unfortunately, finding that potential means wading through a sea of inexplicable bigotry and offensive preachiness. The New Normal, whatever its virtues, is not worth it.

The New Normal premieres on Tuesday, September 11 at 9:30pm on NBC.

(Images courtesy of NBC)

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