Tonight, NBC airs the first episode of The New Normal, the new sitcom that was “cancelled” by a Salt Lake City NBC affiliate because they felt it might be too rude, crude, explicit, and offensive for their audience. So, is the TV show really worth the uproar. Is it worth your time?
The New Normal follows a committed gay couple, Bryan (Andrew Rannells) and David (Justin Bartha), who are successful professionally but want to complete their lives by starting a family. They meet Goldie (Georgia King), a young single mother who dreams of becoming a lawyer and who’s also trying to support her young daughter (Bebe Wood). Goldie volunteers to become their surrogate and the fathers-to-be in turn help her. This doesn’t please Goldie’s bigoted grandmother, Jane (Ellen Barkin), but Brian’s outspoken assistant (NeNe Leakes) is around to help keep her in line. Loving families come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, and configurations these days so “different” it seems has become the “new normal.”
Here’s what the critics have to say about The New Normal:
Seattle PI: “My Two Dads was never like this. Which is partly the point of NBC’s The New Normal, a biting yet sweet-at-heart sitcom that bucks current network comedy trends by actually being about something — in this case, a hot-button social issue so polarizing to some that at least one affiliate (in Salt Lake City) opted not to air the show. As you’d expect from co-creator Ryan Murphy (Glee), the tone can wobble from sappy to flamboyantly snarky, but there’s a real emotional undercurrent that makes Normal a good fit with Matthew Perry’s new sitcom Go On…”
Boston Globe: “The pilot shows promise, particularly in the originality of the premise… Thrown together, [the characters] form a newfangled, jerry-rigged entity. It’s Modern Family-esque, in that the show will explore the intersection of extended family and family of choice… Also a plus: The leading actors are likable, except Barkin, who tries too hard to sell her bigot and becomes an empty cartoon. Rannells, from The Book of Mormon, and Bartha make a believably warm couple, and King, who is British, brings a flawless Midwestern earnestness to Goldie as she tries to restart her life and go to law school. They form a unit you want to root for.”
Post Gazette: “The New Normal is at its funniest when it’s most outrageous; other times it feels as if it might have worked better as a one-shot movie than a weekly TV series. The New Normal pilot shifts its point of view pretty equally between Goldie and the gay couple, even though NBC is marketing the show more as My Two Dads: The Next Generation. Given NBC’s mandate for broader comedy, The New Normal will be an interesting test case to see how the show evolves going forward.”
Variety: “NBC’s most promising new half-hour, The New Normal exhibits some of the excesses audiences have come to expect from Glee and Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy, but also contains heart and a message. More unabashedly political than most network fare, the show — about a gay couple and the woman who becomes their surrogate mother — expands the non-nuclear family, thus providing its title. There’s much to like in the pilot, along with warning flags as to where the series could easily skid into the Pacific Ocean…”
“New Normal won’t be for everybody, but there’s enough here to suggest it can connect with a loyal core, enticing some to stick around and see what develops. Beyond that the Ultrasound gets fuzzy, and the series will have to survive in what’s been pretty barren primetime real estate. Then again, for NBC that’s the old normal.”
Boston Herald: “For a show that celebrates diversity, it’s dismaying that the lone person of color is relegated to a token role. NeNe Leakes, best known from The Real Housewives of Atlanta but more recently as a formidable foe of Sue Sylvester on Glee, plays Rocky, Bryan’s trivial personal assistant. Murphy plays with viewers. The New Normal ultimately celebrates how strangers, no matter how different, come together as family. Is that really such a miserable thing to consider?”
Washington Post: Bartha and Rannells’s characters display yin/yang neuroses that keep their characters interesting, but as Goldie, the would-be surrogate, Georgia King is unfortunately bland. Ellen Barkin saves the day with a deliciously acid standout performance as Goldie’s disapproving grandmother, Jane, who comes on like a cruel hybrid of conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly and Absolutely Fabulous’s Patsy Stone (with Callista Gingrich’s hairdo).”
So, what do you think? Have you watched The New Normal? Will you watch again? Do you especially agree or disagree with any of the critics?