“The New Normal” Embraces Stereotypes
Depending on your point of view, The New Normal is either novel or controversial, which is to be expected since the show features a surrogate mother having a gay couple’s child. However, novelty and controversy cannot carry a show that lacks quality. If the rest of the series is like the pilot, The New Normal will get old fast because the show embraces the stereotypes its creators, Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler, intend to dispel.
The New Normal‘s pilot episode opens with Bryan Collins making a video for his unborn child. A few seconds into the video, Bryan realizes he is getting ahead of himself, since no one knows how he came to the decision to have a child with his partner, David Murray. The majority of the pilot is spent providing the audience backstory through a flashback.
Bryan’s fatherhood journey begins in Ohio. He introduces the audience to Goldie Clemmons and her daughter Shania as well as Goldie’s bigoted grandmother Jane Forrest. Jane wastes no time confirming her narrow-mindedness. She immediately declares it disgusting that a lesbian couple would go out in public with their child. Then, Jane tells Goldie she wasted her life by getting pregnant at a young age and drives Goldie home. When Goldie gets into the house, she finds her husband, Clay Clemmons, having sex with his mistress. Goldie decides to leave him and gets back into her grandmother’s car. As soon as Goldie tells Jane what happened, Jane gets out of the car, walks into the house, pulls out a gun, and calls Clay’s Asian mistress Hello Kitty. While Jane scolds Clay, Goldie decides to steal the car and drive to Venice Beach, California. The whole situation was feasible, but also ridiculous and could have been executed better.
Halfway across the country, Bryan sees a baby at Barney’s and instantly decides he wants one. His partner, David, is not so sure about raising a child in a nontraditional family. However, David warms up to the idea of having a child after three nontraditional families share their stories. Once David sees things Bryan’s way, the couple promptly finds an egg donor and a surrogate. Unfortunately, the first surrogate mother is more homophobic than Jane and attempts to blackmail the couple. Bryan and David up choosing Goldie as a surrogate because she genuinely wants to carry their child.
At the end of the pilot, Jane arrives in California. She finds Goldie getting impregnated with Bryan and David’s child at a hospital. Jane rants about how Goldie should not be having a gay couple’s baby. She gets even angrier when she falsely believes Bryan’s black assistant donated the egg that is in her granddaughter’s body.
In order for The New Normal to be successful, the writers need to rein in Jane’s bigotry because currently she is an unlikeable and unsuccessful attempt at creating a modern day Archie Bunker. It does not help that the rest of the characters have a tendency to act as stereotypical as possible. For example, Bryan is a flamboyant gay man and his assistant is a sassy black woman. Sometimes it appears that the rest of the characters exist just so Jane can make offensive remarks about minorities. If the writers curb Jane’s remarks or limit her screen time, which will make her less annoying, the show will find an audience.
Posted on September 3, 2012, in Comedy, NBC, Primetime and tagged bryan collins, clay clemmons, david murray, goldie clemmons, jane forrest, nbc, pilot episode, review, shania clemmons, the new normal. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.