The New Normal is a bit too normal

By
October 9, 2012

There are certain mistakes from which I will never learn. Like believing I will eat a healthy meal at Founders on a mac ‘n cheese night, or believing I will start a paper more than three days before the due date, or believing that prime-time television has the capability to tackle prejudice without being saturated in stereotypes.

I have grown up watching NBC sitcoms. My family has been proud connoisseurs of classic shows like Friends, Will & Grace, Scrubs, ER and Fraiser. All shows known for their wit, charm and diversity.

Wait a minute. All five of those shows ran for at least eight seasons, featured predominantly white heteronormative leads, and included story arcs featuring characters of color.

The show Happy Endings on ABC is often described as Friends with a black guy and a gay guy. So now everyone is equal!

Wait a minute. I realize it is a lot for me to ask that the top network among 18-49 year olds offer more diverse programming than the Disney channel but that is what it has come to.

The New Normal is a shiny new Ryan Murphy (Glee, Nip/Tuck) show in NBC’s fall lineup that follows a woman who is a single mother raising a spunky daughter, lives under the thumb of a bigoted overbearing grandmother and is a surrogate mother for a gay couple. This is great since there is now a weekly half hour of tv dedicated to opening a dialogue on marriage equality.

Wait a minute. That’s literally all this show tries to achieve. The cast, though made up of incredibly talented performers who bring a level of dramatic integrity, charm and passion to each scene, is almost entirely white.

The show is full of preachy monologues that I suspect are spiced-up versions of scenes done by the character Kurt Hummel in Glee a few season ago. NeNe Leakes is the only main cast member of color and her existence only seems to be important when we forget that the grandma (played by Ellen Barkin) is racist along with being homophobic.

Then again, the show is already being dropped by a Utah NBC affiliate for being “inappropriate on several dimensions.”

Maybe I can let the bluntness in the writing go in exchange for getting a positive gay message out to viewers not in San Francisco or New York City. It’s hard for me to remember that the Mills community isn’t always a true reflection of the real world.

Still, it is hard for me to justify that because this show is tackling LGBTQ rights, NBC has to sacrifice featuring other diverse aspects throughout the show. It seems like the battle for ratings is a paradox since liberal viewers find the show with sights set too narrow and conservative viewers find the show too blunt. I’m not saying we need to go back to Will & Grace with clown-like supporting characters but there still needs to be captivating plots not driven by the same agenda all season.

It would just be nice to watch a show where the lead is LGBTQ-friendly and that’s not mentioned anywhere in the show’s tagline. For now, I’m giving The New Normal a break.

The only reason I’ve stayed so long is because I enjoy seeing Andrew Rannell’s smile and Justin Bartha in glasses. If any aspect of The New Normal sounds interesting, it airs on Tuesdays on NBC at 9:30 p.m. or you can catch it on hulu.com.


The New Normal is a bit too normal was published on October 9, 2012 in Arts & Entertainment, Features

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