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Review – The New Normal

September 14, 2012

The New Normal – NBC – 9:30/8:30pm Tuesday – USA

When reviewing any new television series part of what you have to do is try and predict the future. Even a bad show can hide elements that have the potential to turn into something worthwhile. You look at the track record of the creative folk involved, you can poke around the originality of the concept; you can even just pray that the show before you turns into something worthwhile. This task of guessing the future prospects of a television show is made easier when the creator of that series is Ryan Murphy the man who brought the world Popular, Nip/Tuck, Glee and American Horror Story. It’s easy to predict because no matter how good that show is to begin with at some point it will be terrible; watchable and batshit crazy but terrible.

Partnered with Go On, The New Normal marks NBC’s second new sitcom for the Fall TV season (and it’s all downhill from here with Guys With Kids and Animal Practice on the way). In typical Ryan Murphy fashioned he’s put together a whole group of ‘types’ masquerading as characters and he’s making them say vaguely controversial and slightly amusing things. Murphy has such a way with creating easily digestible pop that feels like it’s saying something even when it isn’t saying anything at all. The New Normal follows a gay couple who want to have a baby and enlist the help of a single mum, with a quirky daughter and a bigot of a grandmother, to be the surrogate, because this is a Ryan Murphy show and that’s a Ryan Murphy premise if ever I’ve heard one.

The New Normal has a couple of things going for it, most importantly Andrew Rannells in the lead. Rannells was last seen on television in Girls and won a Tony for his performance in the hilarious The Book Of Mormon. Rannells plays Bryan, the more “typically gay” of the two men, with the less interesting Justin Bartha as his football loving partner, David. Georgia King plays Goldie (yes, her name is Goldie because… urgh) with Ellen Barkin in the Sue Sylvester/Constance Langdon role of the blonde-haired older lady who says crazy messed up shit that only she can get away with because she’s the old crazy blonde lady. She’s the “did she just say that?!” character that Murphy loves to incorporate into his shows.

All of this feels like I’m getting ready to pan The New Normal, and yeah, it isn’t great stuff and with Murphy at the wheel it will fly off the road completely any episode now, but like I mentioned earlier there’s just something so watchable about a Murphy production. The laughs are light on the ground, the show is actually somewhat offensive in some parts (Murphy thinks that it’s okay for his characters to make racist/sexist/homophobic jokes if the show acknowledges how bad they are; he’s wrong), and the plot is mostly stupid. BUT was I bored? No. Will I watch another episode? Yes, at the very least just to see more crazy. Ryan Murphy makes shows that are so easily digestible in that love-to-hate-them way that it’s sometimes easy to forget that what you’re watching is mostly terrible.

Good, Alright, Bad Or Ugly?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. mary permalink
    September 19, 2012 2:43 pm

    Hmmm. I definitely had contempt prior to investigation on this one. And as often happens I turned on the TV as it was already airing. “OH – that new show about the typical gay couple, and now they are going to add conception of the child to the mix…” Milling about, tending to housework, etc I actually sat for a while and watched. And I actually walked away impressed with the writing. The writing is intelligent, whitty, and well-timed. The personalities don’t acquiesce to their “usual roles.” The in-your-face part is done in such a real manner. With that perfect dash of humor. So – as much as it surprises me, I set record on the DVR. More to come.

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