For those of you living under a rainbow-colored rock, The New Normal is a television comedy series about a Los Angeles gay couple who have decided to have a child. However, Bryan (left in the above photo) and David’s reproductive organs are unable to do so on their own, so they hire a surrogate by the name of Goldie Clemmons, a bright, blond, and affable 24-year-old. Along for the ride come Goldie’s precocious, eight-year-old daughter Shania, Bryan’s sassy assistant Rocky, and Goldie’s racist, bold, and bitterly homophobic grandmother Jane.
I usually don’t watch television, so don’t peg me as an expert – the only three shows I can say I’ve watched through and through are Lost, Heroes, and So You Think You Can Dance? After a somewhat stressful day of school this week, I went home and decided to watch The New Normal on the NBC website. One of my best friends had urged me to do so earlier, and even my AP Government teacher recommended it to me.
After watching five episodes back to back, I fell in love. The New Normal is exactly what its producers and its title says it’s about – a loving couple who desire a child after having been committed for quite some time. While their relationship may seem uncouth because of their sexuality, they are the new normal. Bryan and David’s affection for one another shows sweetly and realistically, and the other characters contribute to the show’s somewhat crazy yet completely entertaining feel. Shania’s wisdom beyond her age always impresses me and makes me chuckle, and so do Jane’s forward comments sometimes, even though I think she deserves several good slaps to the face. Goldie’s struggle to break away from her family’s legacy and traditions to become an independent role model speaks to me, and Rocky always knows how to accent Bryan with her individual fierceness.
Beyond the humor (which does make me laugh out loud at least once an episode) and the phenomenal cast of characters, The New Normal takes on themes that desperately need to be addressed. Bryan’s battle against homophobia in “Baby Clothes” left me crying like a little baby, and the subtly strong message about unintentional racism and hypocrisy in “Obama Mama” portrayed a plight common to those who have good intentions. The tone of the show does not scream melodrama or condescending comedy, rather, it blends touching, gentle moments with humorous ones to create a wonderful combination.
I’ve heard that some people are disappointed in the show because they feel that certain aspects of it are offensive – such as how some of the humor relies on stereotypes, and how Bryan seems to want a baby solely for the purpose of dressing it up. I find these comments ridiculous. Just because a show is about a gay couple who wants a child does not mean it has to avoid stepping on everyone’s toes in all ways possible. I am not condoning stereotypes, but if they are used clearly for laughs and in a parody-like way, it’s not the end of the world. Myriad TV shows use them. Furthermore, just because Bryan is gay and wants a child does not mean he has to be perfect. No one is perfect, and The New Normal does a fantastic job of showing that. Bryan likes to buy clothes and make absurd comments about attractiveness and fashion, but he has feelings, too – true feelings, as one can see after watching “Baby Clothes.”
I could probably write multiple posts about this show (which I might end up doing… episode reviews, anyone?) but there is one reason why I absolutely love this show to death. It’s a personal one.
When I watch The New Normal, I see two successful gay men in a committed, loving relationship. They are living on their own with a house and belongings they bought with their own hard-earned money. Neither of them are perfect, but to each other, they are perfect enough. And when I watch these things, I feel this sense of hope, and of empathy. Hope that maybe one day I’ll be able to break away from my socially conservative family and make it out in the big, wide world no matter what my sexual orientation is. And empathy for what Bryan and David have to go through while having their child and for being gay in general.
Six hours before starting The New Normal, I felt a sense of shame that the country I live in legally supports gay marriage in only six states. After watching five episodes of The New Normal, I felt a sense of hope that one day people will see how family is family, and love is love.
That one day unconditionally loving another person irrespective of gender will become, indeed, normal.
For those of you who have seen it, what do you think of The New Normal? Love it, hate it? I am always welcome to dissenting opinions. For those of you who have not seen it, I hope I have persuaded you to do so!