There’s a lot to take in with The New Normal, created by Ryan Murphy and Allison Adler,but if there’s one thing you must know is that subtlety is out of the window with this show. The New Normal makes it a point to drill it into your head that yes, everyone is allowed to love and same-sex couples shouldn’t be judged. The message of the show is a good one, but it’s just so darn preachy about it!
I suppose being preachy might be necessary, seeing how Utah wasn’t going to air the show at one point. There are also a lot of people in the United States who could use some verbal bludgeoning when it comes to this message of love. But for those of us who already support same-sex marriage, the show can come off as a little heavy-handed, despite its good intentions.
The pilot begins with introductions to Bryan Collins (Andrew Rannells) and his assistant, Rocky (NeNe Leakes). Bryan desperately wants a child after seeing a child in a stroller at Barney’s. This tug on his paternal side expands to his gynecologist partner, David Murray (Justin Bartha), and soon, they are on the road to finding the proper surrogate mother. Enter Goldie Clemmons (Georgia King) and her daughter, Shania (Bebe Wood). At the beginning of the episode, they live with Goldie’s grandmother, Jane Forrest (Ellen Barkin), a real estate agent who has Callista Gingrich hair and antiquated ideas about life, especially when the LGBT community is involved.
(As a small aside, Shania is one of those child characters who is way too precocious and grown-up to be real. She gives advice to her mother in a way a child would never think to do. Even the smartest child might give advice in a very kid-like way. I’ve never heard a child say to their mother to apologize to themselves. If you know of children who have given advice like that, write it out in the comments section.)
For the most part, the episode is a bunch of sharp one-liners, a staple for a show by Murphy, and there is also a cameo by another Murphy favorite, Gwyneth Paltrow. A lot of the lines are devoted to the truth that all families are special. There’s even a short section of the show illustrating how different families can be by highlighting a single mother with multiple children and a little person with their average-sized child.
But the biggest amount of heart in the episode doesn’t come from the characters it’s supposed to come from, but from the character you’d least expect. During the pivotal fertility center scene, Jane reveals that her views on gay society don’t stem totally from conservative views; her resentment stems from finding out her husband was gay. To me, it seems like she feels he stole her perfect marriage. She also seems to feel angry at herself for staying with him for ten more years. Out of anyone’s acting, Barkin’s really shines in this scene due to the amount of real humanity she gave her character. In lesser hands, Jane would be nothing but a cartoon.
Overall, the pilot gives a good idea of what audiences should expect. The show focuses on family-friendly entertainment, family togetherness, and acceptance. Just be sure to make room for some preachiness.