The New Normal Interview: Justin Bartha, Georgia King and Andrew Rannells On The Utah Scandal and the Definition of Normal

The New Normal Interview

For Andrew Rannells, Justin Bartha and Georgia King, the stars of the upcoming NBC family-focused sitcom The New Normal, the controversy surrounding their show is largely unwarranted. The show focuses on a single mother (King) who decides to become a surrogate for a same-sex couple (Rannells, Bartha) wanting to start a family and the three leads were available for a conference call, giving TV Equals their feelings about the show and how they feel about the controversy.

The reality of families

The show might be seen as innovative in terms of the type of family that’s at it’s center. However, the core of the show is similar to other family-friendly shows in that it exhibits the universal idea of unique individuals coming together to create a family unit.

“I don’t think we’re necessarily telling a new story but we’re just showing what’s already happening and what’s already out in the world,” said Rannells. “Everyone has some crazy characters in their family and I don’t think that’s new news for anyone.”

“I think anyone’s family is going to be slightly odd…I think every family is indeed this odd fusion of characters…I think you find that everywhere. I think it’s great that we’re exploring that,” said King.

Bartha also added that the show’s success stems from the fact that it’s conveying reality along with celebrating the idea of family.

“[The show is] relatable because it’s true,” said Bartha. “That’s one of the things that I love about the actual title of this show. It seems so blunt and so obvious, but…the fact that we still live in a time where there are people that object to showing what most people would consider reality is interesting and the fact that the name of the show is The New Normal and that the “normal” is what everybody can identify with is what we really enjoy showing.”

The Utah controversy

If you’ve been keeping up with the news surrounding The New Normal, you are probably aware of Utah station KSL-TV deciding not to show The New Normal. The decision by the station naturally upset Rannells, Bartha and King because their show wasn’t given a chance.

“I think we discussed this when that announcement came out. It’s a shame that it came out prior to anyone seeing the show,” said Rannells. “We were lucky, though, that another station in Salt Lake decided to air it instead, so we proud to be represented there in Salt Lake. But, it’s unfortunate becaue I think particualry those who have seen the pilot know that it’s a story about love and about creating a family and there’s very little, certainly, that we find offensive with it. But, I hope that no one finds anything offensive with it. It’s a story about creating family and the love that it takes to start a family.

While Rannells is upset, he doesn’t seem to hold a grudge against the station.

“Of course, we were, I think, surprised and maybe a little disappointed that we were greeted with that by some people,” he said, “but for the most part, I think the response has been great, particularly after this preview online with the pilot. I think we got some great feedback, which I know I’m very excited about.”

Unlike Rannells, Bartha had a more “in your face” approach to the controversy.

“I have a little bit of a different point of view than Andrew in that I actually do hope that people are offended by it, and hopefully that it will be a conversation piece in families’ homes–the families that love it for what it is, which is what Andrew said–compassion love and family–are hopefully the families that will enjoy it…and have discussions about those positive aspects,” said Bartha. “For the people who are offended by what they see, hopefully they will talk with other people about why they’re offended by it, about what strikes them as offiensive and wrong and maybe realize that they’re bigots and that they’re ignorant and possibly our show can help them usher in a little more acceptance. I don’t expect it to change anyone’s life…but one of the wonderful things about television that hopefully our show can bring back a little is the conversation, those water cooler talks people will have the day after it airs. It’s really bringing a discourse into people’s homes who wouldn’t normally have those conversations.”

King’s opinions lie in the middle of both Rannells and Bartha, saying that it’s privilege for her to be a part of a show that is dealing with real-world issues. However, she does sympathize with the show’s detractors.

“I just want to say with respect, I understand why some people are struggling with some of the concepts…but I do think that until you watch the show and actually see what we’re doing and talking about, I think [hating the show] is a little bit hasty,” she said.

The message of The New Normal

The leads of The New Normal wants its audience to know that the show isn’t salacious; it’s main focus is the love of family.

“The family that we are creating are perhaps no different than yours,” said Rannells. “It’s still a group of sort-of unlikely folks who come together to create this family. It might seem awfully different than a lot of people’s families, it might seem awfully specific, but I think the story we’re telling is actually universal. My hope is that people see themselves in this story.”

Watch the premiere of The New Normal on NBC, Monday, September 10 at 10/9c after the season premiere of The Voice. Make sure to catch The New Normal at its regular time, Tuesday September 11 at 9:30/8:30c.