The New Normal isn’t that offensive. The show, created by trainwreck-perfectionist Ryan Murphy, does have a number of cruel and tasteless jokes, but they are often filtered through the voice of an old white lady, so it’s ok. These bon mots mock “the gays”, black people, and any number of “others”. One sequence in particular is thoroughly convinced that having a dwarf discuss how good of a mother she is allows them to stick her in a toy car with her daughter. It is unclear whether this is meant to play for laughs or emotion. Regardless of intent, it produces a gasp, a flaring of the nose and widened eyes desperately searching for another soul equally off-put and confused by the events occurring on the screen.
Those events follow the supposedly hilarious and inspiring exploits of Goldie Clemmons, an aww-shucks type single-mother from the Midwest, who runs away with her undelightfully precocious daughter to L.A. This is because it is easier to set things in L.A., the same place where things are filmed. Murphy is nothing if not lazy.
They’re running from, among other things, that aforementioned old white lady, Goldie’s grandmother. She begins the episode mocking a gay couple. In an act of defiance, Goldie offers to be a surrogate mother for a different gay couple, because no good deed stems solely from being a decent person. In return, the gay couple gives her a blue suit (because they’re GAAAAAAAAAAAY) and the promise of supporting her dreams of becoming a lawyer in the vein of The Good Wife. Ryan Murphy loves to reference things he will never be as good as.
A handful of other things happen, but all in service of getting all of these characters to L.A., and ending with a level of saccharine that could give a dead man diabetes. The half-hour has a handful of moments that don’t cause a flamboyant migraine, and they (ironically) stem largely from Andrew Rannells, who plays the “gay” half of the gay couple (the other half of the couple loves sports but also loves dick because Murphy thinks that is what “complex” means). Rannells comes from Broadway, most prominently earning a Tony nomination for his work in The Book of Mormon. He was also one of the best parts of the first season of HBO’s Girls, a show that exploited his stereotype even more, but for humor, rather than a “message”.
Rannells does good work on this show (as does Justin Bartha, who plays the masculine side of the couple, which is the funniest thing about the show), but The New Normal, from its title to its closing moments, is so completely obsessed with shoving a message down your throat that it forgoes humor, storytelling, or character development. I hope The New Normal’s name is inaccurate, not because I’m against gay marriage*, but because if this represents the new wave of “tolerant comedy”, we’re all in a lot of trouble. “Better hop in that midget car and ride on out of here.” – Ryan Murphy, I’m sure.
· I’ll be reviewing this show weekly, so feel free to suffer alongside me and join me every Tuesday for a new look at The New Normal (ugh vomit choke ugh)
· I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunities to discuss the aggressively black assistant character, played by NeNe Leakes, most famous for her “work” on The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
· *It should be known, because for a show like this, it’s important to know, that I am fully in support of equal rights. I have no problem with what Murphy is saying. That he’s saying it so poorly is the most disappointing aspect, because I basically agree with him.
Critic: Wine & Pop @WineAndPop