Hey TV.com, Should I Watch The New Normal?

Friends, we've screened the pilot of The New Normal, Ryan Murphy's equal-measures edgy and saccharine sitcom about gay aspiring dads and their quirky surrogate. But is it worth your time? Here are some first impressions that might help you decide.


What is The New Normal?

The New Normal is a single-camera sitcom premiering on NBC this week. Its premise centers around David and Bryan, two young, handsome, and wealthy (!) gay men in Los Angeles who decide to start a family. They cross paths with Goldie, a down-on-her-luck single mom fresh out of a bad relationship and headed toward financial destitution. Her decision to earn money for law school by carrying David and Bryan's baby (the egg was provided by a separate donor) would seem to benefit all parties, but Goldie's conservative, gun-toting, racist nana would love nothing more than to thwart their plans.


When can I see it?

The full pilot is available online and embedded below; it will also air Monday, September 10 at 10pm on NBC after the Season 3 premiere of The Voice. The series officially debuts in its regular timeslot on Tuesday, September 11 at 9:30pm with Episode 2.


Who's in it?

The truly talented cast includes Justin Bartha (The Hangover) and Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon, Girls) as the main couple; Scottish ingenue Georgia King as Goldie; living legend Ellen Barkin as Nana; and NeNe Leakes (Glee, The Real Housewives of Atlanta) rounds out the ensemble as Bryan's assistant, Rocky. Other notable faces in the pilot include Michael Hitchcock (Best in Show) and a surprise guest-star as the egg donor (a Ryan Murphy regular).


Who's behind it?

It's impossible to discuss The New Normal without immediately mentioning that it's the new show from our generation's Aaron Spelling, Ryan Murphy. It's his first single-camera sitcom, but like most of his recent oeuvre, he works in collaboration with another partner, in this case Allison Adler whose previous credits include Glee and Chuck.


Who's the target audience?

Good question! Seriously, this show will infuriate almost everyone, from people who are sympathetic to gay parenthood to, especially, people with an aversion to the subject. That being said, the snappy humor and appealing cast count for a lot, so depending on your mood you may be surprised at how enjoyable many of the pilot's absurdities are. (A visual joke involving a Barbie-branded Power Wheels made me laugh out loud.)


What's awesome about it?

The cast, the rapidfire humor, and some genuinely affecting emotional moments. (There are definitely some maddeningly contrived emotional moments, too.) And while many of the characters are broad caricatures in the pilot (in particular, Barkin's Nana who recalls a sort of poor man's Lucille Bluth), the show has great potential to improve once they all become more nuanced human beings. Also, you know, there's the whole message behind the show, which is theoretically laudable. If only it didn't borderline negate that message every few minutes...


Are there any not-awesome parts I should know about?

Honestly, some of the racist jokes Nana makes—while admirably non-P.C.—weren't clever enough to justify stinking up the script with that kind of negativity. And, this may just be a personal reaction, but as a gay viewer I definitely didn't appreciate the portrayal of the primary couple, whose behavior and decisions somehow managed to be stereotypical, unrealistic, and basically offensive all at the same time. For example, Bryan repeatedly compares his future baby to a fashion accessory? Are these jokes really so funny that they're worth destroying my sympathy for his character over? And don't get me started on the wise-beyond-her-years child character. CUT IT OUT, TV WRITERS.


Okay, but seriously, should I watch it?

If you know the premise and you've seen the ads and the show looks appealing to you, then you may enjoy it. But if you have any suspicion that you won't, trust your gut.


Do you have a clip or a trailer I can take a look at?

How does an entire episode sound?


Drink of choice for my The New Normal viewing experience?

Maybe one of those cheap, sweet wines you might find in a gas station convenience store. You know, something that seemed like a good idea at the time.


The New Normal officially debuts Tuesday, September 11 at 9:30pm (with a "sneak preview" on Monday, September 10 at 10pm after the premiere of The Voice) on NBC.




Comments (44)
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Peterson is much too harsh. His critique will spawn off many who wouldn't give the show a chance simply because its focus is on a gay couple. Peterson, "Are you a log cabin Republican by any chance?" Drink for the show: Bloody Marys or Martinis
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1) The couple wanting the kid is "too perfect." Their relationship lacks any sense of realness. There is no conflict. Where there is conflict, there is comedy. Right now, these two gay men are about as exciting as a new can of paint.



2) Nene Lekes: Her talent is being wasted. Her character lacks any sense of realness. Bless Ryan's heart for wanting to give a sister a chance. But he should have been bold with his choice and made one of the leads a Black guy and Nene his disapproving and oftentimes over-bearing sister. Nene would also be great as the BOSS of Bryan rather than his assistant - and the tension would be that she less interested in him being a daddy and more concerned about him helping her achieve some outrageous goal of hers.



3) Decide what kind of show you want to be. I fear the producers of this show are too caught in trying to present a message. Take a lesson from Will and Grace and just have FUN with it.



4) Ellen Barkin is awesome! Again, she is boring as the "voice of the Right" - a woman of her experience and talent should be the "crazy mom" of one of the gay guys! Perhaps the conflict would be that she wants the baby more than her son. Just bring some real tension to her role. Right now, every scene with her is predictable and therefore, boring.



5) Be Creative! Come on, Ryan! Come on, Allison! Give us something to talk about the next day. Televison should be fun!



6) I don't know about you, but I'm soooooo over the precocious female teen. How many shows have we seen this character? A million? It would have been tons more interesting if Goldie had a son she was trying to raise who was really against what his mom was doing - and each episode the audience would be tasked with trying to understand why. Again, add some real tension to Goldie's immediate family. Sometimes I feel like I'm just watching an old episode of Brothers and Sisters.



7) Sally Field needs to be a guest! But she so needs to play a comic version of herself! The New Normal needs to surprise us each week with someone playing against type. While this show doesn't need to be as zany as say a "Happy Endings" - it definitely needs to stop taking itself so serious. We got Anderson Cooper for that.



8) We need some "MESSY." Perhaps all this baby planning can be interrupted by a Hot new neighbor who catches one of the guy's eyes and brings into doubt the stability of their relationship? Again, what kind of show does The New Normal wish to be? I say if you're going to write the show like a gay version of Desperate Housewives, then GO FOR IT. If not, make it that zany comedy and turn Nene and Ellen loose! Show the awkward progression of these two wonderful women becoming "Besties!" See, I'm laughing already!



9) Stop trying to be "The New Normal" - just be a show about people living their lives in this day and age! Think about this - and you'll get what I'm saying. If not, call me. Maybe.



10) Go back and start at #1 until you get it right -- otherwise, this show won't be around much longer. And that would be just sad.

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Ok, so I'm not gay, but I've known a lot of gay guys, one of my friends is a queeny gay guy, but to me, it seems like a lot of the gay community has no problem with obnoxious, shallow, cliched gay characters on a show so long as they're gay. To me, it comes off as the gay equivalent of a minstrel show, and yet almost no gay guys seem to mind that type of representation (I have met a few here and there, but it's rare). Even the queeniest guys I know are still people at the end of the day, but on TV like this it's hard to see that beyond the awfulness of the drive behind the characters. And it almost always comes with that - and I hate to use the term - "***hag", a larger than life woman who gets away with saying and doing anything nasty, Will & Grace had Megan Mullally and this show has Ellen Barkin, characters that in real life would drive anybody away after a very short time suffering their grotesque behavior. Anyway, this was stuck on my mind after reading the article and seeing a bit of the show.
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This show was awful. Horrible Quality television. There are so many good shows out there with fantasic writing, and this is just garbage in comparison.
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The pilot was really good, can it sustain it???

Thats the question!
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I'll admit there was a lot of good and a lot of bad here. but much like Glee, I find that the good (barely) outweighs the bad overall. So I'll watch it, but honestly, I probably wouldn't it it weren't for Justin Bartha.
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I thought the pilot was very good. Ellen Barkin is a living legend and I can pretty much get behind anything she's in. My favorite line: "Nane you're a bigot. I'm un-friending you."
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The bitch hasn't done anything worthwhile in 20 years, but being a chosen one, she has no problem trashing Christian values.
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The ads have looked horribly contrived, stereotyped, screechy, ugly and unbearable. My gut says no, so I'll take your advice, Price.
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I'm still on the fence on ths one, the only characters i actually like was the gay couple. Nana's jokes weren't funny and NeNe and that little girl were just annoying and Goldie has to grow on me (so does the name Goldie). But i think i'll give it another try i can never make up my mind from one episode!
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Please for the love of all things decent (in quality) DO NOT watch this garbage! Its Insulting to homosexuals and heterosexuals at the same time. It misses the mark at every turn to come off as witty or "with the times". A truly genuine example of a network trying way to hard to be on the "edge" of "whats new & hip."



Two thumbs down and a disappointed head shake for - The New Normal
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I watched the pilot a few days ago and decided that it wasn't for me. Here's why:

1-I found most of Nana's lines more cringe-inducing than smile-inducing.

2-My (admittedly small) knowledge of Ryan Murphy consisted of two things 1) Glee and 2) he seems to have a reputation for wanting inclusive storytelling and furthering tolerance and LGBT acceptance. (Disclaimer all of my Ryan Murphy knowledge comes from internet headlines and might be horribly incorrect.) Since these were the impressions I had before watching the pilot of The New Normal, I also made the assumption (my fault?) that this show would have gay characters that, for once, were NOT cheesy Hollywood stereotypes of gay men, but realistic portrayals. The characters in this show act nothing like any of my friends who happen to be gay.

3-Was the network hoping this show would broaden people's minds or help marriage equality laws pass? (I honestly don't know if NBC has made any statements, either way.) But if this was the goal of ANYONE involved, I fear it won't happen. If the goal of the show was simply to entertain folks, not sure that'll happen, either. Watching this show and knowing how my Republican/Baptist relatives (please, feel free to use ALL stereotypes on my relatives, they exceed them) would react just made me sad and disappointed in humanity. Sadly, a lot of our society has really conservative views and many of these people can't/won't learn to look past their initial snap judgments that someone else's life is "wrong." I don't know how other conservative Christian households will react to this; but the reaction at my parents' house was exactly as h-phobic, narrow-minded, and mean (or more so) than any of the lines spoken by Nana.
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isn't there some kind of wise, sage-ish phrase about ultimately ruining what you love? i feel like that is ryan murphy's bag.
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I will be watching it for Justin Bartha who is by far the best character in the show. At least, that was my impression from the pilot.
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The biggest problem with The New Normal is that the message overwhelms all other aspects of the show. It feels like the writers are brow beating the audience with its message. The New Normal seems more like a thirty minute P.S.A for gay parental rights than a sitcom. In my opinion the writers sacrificed the characters , the story and the comedy for their political correct message.



The over lining tone of the show was so negative and down beat. To me it seem like one of the show message was that if you dont agree with the message than you are a homophobic bigot. In fact the show took every chance it could to make fun and insult anyone that the writers felt like disagreed with them or the show message. I might not be a paid television writer but I know that its not good to insult potential audience.



The third thing wrong with the show is that the writers sadly mistakes sharp snappy humor. Trust me from experience , just because you make a sharp snappy jokes doesn't mean its that you are funny. As I said above , alot of the jokes were just thinly veiled insults of those who disagree with the shows message. Lets not forget the caricature of the two gay men which probably as insulting. Did I mention that the jokes insults are not are just poorly written . The New Normal is a sitcom without a single funny joke



Lets get to the dramatic aspect of the show. I must admit at first that I was going with the emotional aspect of the shows even at times when it was a bit cheesy. About halfway in though they lost me. The halfway mark was the about that I figured out that the writers were trying to manipulate me into being invested in the show. There is a big difference in having honest and heart felt moment and just trying to manipulate the audience with cheap emotional tricks. I feel like the show falls into the latter.Of course what do you expect with a show with a paper thin plot and even thinner character



Talking about characters lets get into the characters. I would not say all the characters were unlikable. I thought that Goldie and even the kid was likable , even though she was the over used smart kid cliche. Well as for the rest of the characters I found then poorly written and poorly developed. The were as normal and life like card board cut out. The worst being the totally unlikable character of Nana. the show would be a lot better if she was written out of the show. Just a grading is the characters played by NeNe Leakes.

Not that the other characters were a whole lot better.



This show is just terrible and needs a major over haul if it wants a chance to make it a whole season. While I cant judge the whole season by one episode I can make a judgement on the pilot. Even as pilot goes there were very few that matched the awfulness of this stinker. I give the pilot 1 star out of five.
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As a gay viewer also, I did not find it stereotypical. The character of Bryan while sweet is self involved and fashion obsessed. He's boyfriend is a nerdy gyno who loves sports. I found them endearing and I want good things for them. In a side note, I'm going to say the same thing Georgia King said, it's more than just a show about Gay people, it's a show about a family! I loved it and I certainly will be watching it!
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This was really cute. Should hopefully get even better. I'll keep watching. I love Justin Bartha on it. Am looking forward to the second episode.
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my whole family enjoyed the pilot.... hoping for more good ones to come!
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Though it's got a compelling premise, I still think I'll skip this one because it looks like it'll be pretty similar to Glee in tone and I just cannot stomach that junk.



That said, I hope it does well if only because I picked as my first show to get picked up for a full season in the dead pool. Go New Normal!
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Hmm. I didn't really find it to be anything like Glee.
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Don't they both glorify sodomites?
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Don't they both glorify sodomites?
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I thought both were a little too preachy and saccharine, but to each their own.



Mainly they both make me feel like "Gah I already agree with your beliefs Ryan Murphy now please stop yelling at the choir! Also, please stop acting like the sole owner of those beliefs. Thx."
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Pilots are usually aberrations of what the show actually is, so I wouldn't judge it based on the one episode alone. I have a rule of giving a TV show six episodes before I make a decision. If it can't win me over by then, then I don't continue. If it wins me over, I watch it until cancellation.



I can't say whether or not I liked this show though, since Hulu sucks and won't work in Australia :(
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I rather get my gay culture from the "Where The Bears Are" web-series. This looks offensive to all sides of the topic.
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Liked the first episode. Lets see where it goes.

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This is a definite NO! There is nothing remotely normal about the "new normal" other than the left continuing to spit on all that is good and decent about America. This series will do poorly in the ratings, but will be kept on the air for no other reason than to spite the vast majority of the American people.



If people want to do this in their private lives, fine. But don't pretend that this is anywhere near normal..

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Excuse me Joe, that kind of illogical, uninformed bigotry has no place on an intelligent website. I suggest you do some academic research; googling the word "library" may help.
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Eat $hit, fudge-packer. Oh, I forgot, you already do.
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With every national 2012 poll showing the majority of America supporting same-sex marriage (e.g. CNN's June 2012 with 54% supporting and 42% opposing & the trend has continued each year), the "vast majority" argument doesn't support your case.

I enjoyed the pilot enough to keep watching the show, though now that it's introduced the characters, I hope it vastly improves their depth and the writing or it'll squander the talents of the actors.

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Then why does your perversion lose every time it's put to a vote?
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Why don't you go back to http://www.tv.com/news/watch-nbcs-the-new-normal-premiere-online-now-video-29454/#comments and once again read what people told you there. Then go to a site where people actually give a crap about and share your bigotry.
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You're sexy when you're angry ;)



xx Andy
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It will stay on the air because ratings will actually be solid, especially compared to other shows on NBC. If Whitney and Up All Night got second seasons, I see no reason this show won't make it.
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Nobody is actually claiming that anything is even remotely normal about it. That said, the reason to reject it is because the characters are poorly conceived and developed, and the writing is wildly hit-or-miss (with WAY more misses than hits in the pilot).

If you're freaking out because it has (gasp) gay people in it, well, you probably weren't in the target audience in the first place.
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Yeah, the 2% kweer population will keep this trash on the air. Great demographic.
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It's a Ryan Murphy show, Ryan Murphy shows have great first seasons. I will probably watch the entire first season.



As for the pilot, I didn't care for the grandmother, and I truly hate the smart-little-girl-with-glasses sitcom stereotype, so they need work. The three main characters are great and I enjoy them enough to probably keep me watching for at least the first season.
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Didn't like it. It was...underwhelming. It didn't really succeed on any level. A little funny, but not funny enough. Quirky characters, but not quirky enough. In fact, none of the characters are really likeable, the kind that makes me excited to follow their development.



It's like Ryan Murphy was holding back when he created this show. I expected more "Murphyness".
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Totally agree. By the time they all got to the clinic for the egg implantation, I was SO bored because I didn't care at all about these completely cliched, one dimensional characters. Even though "Go On" and "The Mindy Project" weren't consistently funny, they at least had likable characters that I want to get to know.
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This is one of those shows that you can't tell if it is going to be watchable or not. I am not sure I have ever seen a pilot so bland and in no way shape or form give us enough to see what the rest of the season might look like. It really was just an introduction to the characters. Contrast this with "Go On" and you see where "Go on"is going to go.





The things that you can tell are. One, the Grandma's jokes are going to get tiresome. Two, who in the hell gives reality TV show people are real job. Seriously who does that? Third. I think this is going to be another in a long line of shows where the child character is going to be the most mature one in the whole group. And lastly it is Ryan Murphy, expect a lot of the content to be "borrowed" (stolen) from other sources that invariably do it better.
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It was halfway decent (though I doubt I'll continue watching it). The messages just felt way too forced, and none of the characters were very likeable. The gay couple felt like a much more annoying, much less funny version of Mitch and Cam from Modern Family. Also, the show felt like it was going out of it's way to make Nana be as unlikeable and horrible as she could possibly be, and instead of subtly showing viewers it's message, it pretty much is a soapbox for the writers to "preach" their message to the viewer.



The Nana story also got to me. Revealing the REAL reason she doesn't like homosexuality is just bad writing. If the show really wants to go on, that kind of "secret" should have been saved for Season 5, not the pilot episode in Season 1. Overall, I'll pass.
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This doesn't sound like something I would enjoy. I hate it when characters are destroyed for the sake of cheap, unfunny jokes.
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If I may defend the character of Bryan a little bit, while I'm not gay, I kind of see myself in him when I was expecting my baby. It was all about the adorable clothes and the pretty nursery, and only the most expensive things would be good enough for my angel! Then my baby is born, and I quickly grow up and start buying clothes at second-hand shops for two bucks, because she's just gonna throw up all over it and then it will be too small in a month...



As for the show, I liked it enough to give it a decent chance. I was never bored watching it, and most (not all) of the preachy parts were necessary to explain each character's motivation. It had a lot of flaws, most of those character ones, but I think and hope they will grow to be more than stereotypes as they realize that babies are hard work, like I did.
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