Ryan Murphy, who we affectionately call Troll Murphy around these parts, is starting this Fall television season with not one but three shows. ‘Glee‘ is returning for it’s fourth season, ‘American Horror Story‘ is on it’s second and the newest is ‘The New Normal.’ I can’t say I had high hopes for this given Murphy’s track record of starting out with a good idea and letting his ego get in the way of letting his shows be great.
The premise of The New Normal is the flighty Bryan (Andrew Rannells) deciding that he wants to have a baby with his partner David (Justin Bartha) after seeing a cute one in a department store (which appeared to be Barney’s New York, of course). It’s obvious that Bryan is another version of Murphy, the same way that Rachel and Kurt are him on Glee, because I was annoyed by his unnecessary extra-ness. His assistant, and we don’t find out exactly what he does in the pilot, is played by ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta‘ star Nene Leakes who is basically playing her Coach Roz character from Glee, which was basically herself. She has a couple of nice quips, and I’m sure that’s all she’ll be good for on the show.
Bryan and David are your typical upper middle class gay couple, unoffensive mostly, but still stereotypical. David has to play the straight-er man to Bryan, but they have their occasional moments of cuteness and Murphy actually lets them be a couple instead of two people that happen to be gay and like each other.
While Bryan and David have a pretty nice life, Goldie’s (Georgia King) is falling apart in Ohio. She finds her husband, or was it just a longtime boyfriend, cheating in their bed with his new Asian girlfriend. Yes, you needed to know that she is Asian because they kept driving this point home like Amanda Bynes. She wants to break the cycle of “babies having babies,” so she steals her grandmother’s car and flees with her 9-year old daughter Shania (Bebe Wood) to Los Angeles. Her grandmother Jane‘s (played pretty well by Ellen Barkin) rant about gay couples encourages her to submit herself to be a donor for Bryan and David. They do eventually choose her to be their donor, just as Jane finds her and lets it be known that she doesn’t approve of her choice to have a baby for a gay couple. While I don’t think that Murphy was going for originality here, it felt like we have seen this all before. Oh yeah, on his other shows.
The New Normal has it’s even less “politically correct” Sue Sylvester in Jane but it’s almost too over the top. I’m sure the show is setting up more confrontations between Jane and Nene’s character but that’s not enough to look forward to. Throughout the episode, Bryan makes videos of himself talking to the baby that we are to assume happens at some point, the episode ends with Goldie waiting on the results of her pregnancy test.
So is it bad? Well, no. It actually has a lot of potential but I can already see Troll Murphy getting bored midway through and throwing in Gwyneth Paltrow for a special guest appearance. Wait, he already did that just tonight! If you want a slightly edgier ‘Modern Family‘ with a lot of heart and good jokes, skip The New Normal and watch ‘Raising Hope‘ instead.