Fall TV preview: Does ‘Glee’s’ Ryan Murphy have a hit in ‘The New Normal’?

The New Normal” has been a new series that almost everyone has been talking about as of late, though for different reasons. For some, this is Ryan Murphy’s first attempt to dive into half-hour comedy since starting up “Glee” back in 2009. Meanwhile, for others this is a lightning rod of controversy over the subject matter pertaining a gay family. Utah station KSL has already banned the show from their network, even though another local affiliate has picked it up.

At the end of the day, we’re really not as concerned with the name on the credits of the show or the subject matter so much as one thing: is “The New Normal” funny? The answer is “yes,” but it could also be far funnier if it allows itself to be. The show focuses on Bryan and David (Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha), a gay couple who decides to start their own family and seek out a surrogate. Eventually, they find one courtesy of Goldie (Georgia King), a kind-hearted woman from the midwest who is looking to start a new life in California. Are there problems? Sure, from Bryan and David’s own quirks to a certain member of Goldie’s family (Ellen Barkin) who hates everything that is not straight, white, or Christian.

What the pilot does well is that it introduces us to all the characters as well as gets us from point A (our couple deciding to have a kid) to point B (them deciding on Goldie as the surrogate). The problem really lies on what happens in between. Bryan and David have a few funny lines here and there, but mostly of the humor is dominated solely by Barkin and no one else. The show also has to worry about the same thing that “Glee” has struggled with since season 2: trying not to become too preachy. It is more normal (hence the title) to treat Bryan and David as everyday people rather than to continually hype up that they are gay, and the show makes a little too much effort telling us this rather than showing us this in action, which is where Cameron and Mitchell on “Modern Family” are so successful. The writers need to realize that the audience watching the show are likely ones who will support Bryan and David’s rights to be parents, and it ultimately shouldn’t matter to them what anyone else thinks.

Regardless of the show talking about what we would rather be shown, there’s no questioning that David and Bryan are positive force to the LGBT community, NBC should be commending for taking a chance here on this show. Unlike “Modern Family,” the gay couple is really at the center of every storyline, and it’s not yet certain how some conservative viewers will respond to that.

Verdict – Overall, “The New Normal” is still a show with potential now that it has gotten most of the legwork out of the way in explaining the premise. There are some great characters (including the aforementioned Rocky played by Murphy’s new favorite in NeNe Leakes), and we do also like the daughter that Goldie already has. If the show mixes its messages a little bit better within the comedy, then we have a feeling this could be something that we watch for years to come. It’s certainly worth watching more than once, and we are more curious about its performance than almost any other new comedy this season.

Are you interested in caching “The New Normal” when it premieres September 11? If you want to watch the pilot early, you can do so below. Also, be sure to check out our other entries in our Fall TV Preview series.

Photo: NBC

 

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