And so it begins!!!! The new TV is finally underway and some shows have already premiered this week. Can you believe it? I know I can’t. This summer flew!!! I’m sort of happy, though, that there are some early premieres because it will make it somewhat easier to discuss all the new shows and returning premieres, and give them their just due. First on the 2012/2013 docket….The New Normal.
I’ve heard mixed reviews about this show. Some people love it, some people hate it. Some people already assumed it would be awful because it’s a Ryan Murphy show. I have to admit, I had my reservations after he completely destroyed Glee, how this show would fair. But my initial assessment….I liked it.
The premise for this show is simple. A gay couple is looking for a surrogate to help them start a family. Enter Goldie Clemmons who is looking to start over after finding her husband cheating on her. Goldie would like to go to law school and set a good example for her daughter, Shania. Andrew Rannalls and Justin Bartha are fantastic! Georgia King is delightful and Bebe Woods is adorable. Rannells and Bartha are terrific as Bryan and David. David is the partner who loves sports and was the mathlete in high school. Bryan, I believe is a writer, who is the more flamboyant of the two, who loves to have a good time and has a great quick wit. The thing I like most about Bryan is that he has a huge heart. He isn’t as plastic as he appeared at times in the pilot. I didn’t think they were going to show him in the best light for becoming a dad. But in Sofa’s Choice, he did a great job dealing with what he thought was Shania ruining his couch as well as being there for her when she was having a rough time at school. Bryan has a HUGE heart and you can see how David would fall in love with him.
Goldie is so sweet I get a cavity every time I watch her on-screen. She may be a little green to the ways of the world, but she’s strong in her own way. She has opened her eyes to the potential that is her life and she is determined to give her daughter a successful role model while keeping her own dreams still very much alive. I love it!!! What a great message to send. She will do whatever it takes and work as hard as she can, on her own, to make this new life for her and Shania. That’s something I can watch and root for every week!
Shania is also a nice ray of sunshine. I’m usually not a huge fan of kids on-screen because they annoy me, but she is really good. She’s smart beyond her years and has this delightful quirkiness that would normal irk me but with her I find completely charming. And I like that she has found a kindred spirit in Bryan.
This is a show I can see watching for a while because I am truly invested in each character (save for Nana Jane) and what happens during this whole process. How do they all get along during the pregnancy? What happens after the baby is born? Would Goldie consider doing this again for them? How will this all impact Shania? How will having a baby really impact Bryan and David and their relationship? Will I ever see the baby in that awesome sweater Bryan bought? If the show can keep it focused on these four and really develop these characters, I can see tuning into the New Normal for many years!
WHAT’S NOT WORKING
Do I even need to say what I have an issue with? Let me start with the small issue before I go on to the huge bigoted one. NeNe Leakes is my small issue. I’m not a big fan of reality TV personalities turning into “legit” on-screen actors. Not because they can’t, but it’s usually because they aren’t very good. Leakes isn’t bad but I don’t understand her point on the show. She’s Bryan’s assistant (although I’m still not 100% sure what he does for a living) and other than her few lines to him in the beginning and a punch line for Ellen Barkin’s Nana, what else does she bring to the table? Maybe that will change overtime but I don’t like how she’s being used so far.
As for Barkin’s Jane Forest character…there are no words. I’m serious. I’m not naive. I know there are racist, bigoted, homo-phobic people out there. But you know what, I don’t find them funny. It’s one thing if you want to have a character that pushes the envelope in their thought processes and there are ways to incorporate that stereotypical element, into a show that can be humorous. But how Barkin’s character is written, it’s not humorous…it’s cringe-worthy. In the pilot, she goes on and on about not liking the lesbian couple walking down the street. Then she talks about how selling Girl Scout Cookies, one of her competition “jewed down the price so she lost.” She calls Bryan and David “salami smokers.” Finally, when Rocky (Leakes) walks in, she panics thinking one of “her kind of eggs” is going in her granddaughter’s body. The second episode is worse. Like Jane making a comment like “I studied past presidents that used to own people like our current president.” Ouch. But the line that had me the most pissed off from an offensive standpoint and as a TV viewer was when Jane opened the door to Bryan and David’s bathroom to see Rocky there and she says “are you sure you’re even supposed to be using this one?” I have no way to clearly articulate how much that bothered me. Does she really think it’s 1950? Does she really think blacks and whites have to use separate bathrooms? ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS? Again, how is that funny? Maybe I’m too uptight about this. Maybe I’m too dumb to understand the humor. But for me, this character is so over the top it appears more a marketing ploy than a plot driver. And maybe that’s why I’m so annoyed with the character…because she’s so forced. She can’t just make one comment, she has to make four or five (sometimes in the same insult.) It’s lazy and it’s bad writing. But it’s Ryan Murphy so of course there will be bad writing and of course he will put shock in area to create a buzz even if it doesn’t work from a storytelling perspective. Because let’s be honest, can you name one good story he’s told on Glee the last three seasons? Yep, me neither.
Overall, I like The New Normal. Honestly, if they got rid of Nana Jane and found a purpose for Rocky, it would be an awesome show. But the good parts, so far, really out weigh the bad ones so I am sticking with it. That is until Murphy finds a way to screw this up as well.
DVR RATING: 3 1/2 DVRs