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The New Normal, Or: How I Learned to Like Ryan Murphy Again

October 5, 2012

The New NormalJust when I thought I was over Ryan Murphy and all his fabulousness, along comes The New Normal to steal away my precious weeknight hours. Although I never watched Nip/Tuck, I was a HUGE fan of Glee (at least in the beginning), but lately Ryan Murphy has seemed to me to be a one-trick pony. With the premiere of The New Normal, Ryan has shown me that, while he might only have one trick up his sleeve, it’s a pretty great trick.

The New Normal brings us Bryan and David (grown-up Kurt and Blaine for all you Glee fans). They are the first gay male lead characters in a serious, loving relationship on network television. They kiss, they snuggle, they look absurdly adorable together, and they want to have a baby. Enter Goldie, the sweet midwesterner who offers to be their surrogate so that she can use the money to go to law school. Goldie is new to L.A., having packed up her precocious daughter, Shania, and high-tailed it out of Ohio after catching her husband in bed with another woman. Goldie and Shania are pursued by Nana, the conversative, loudmouthed grandmother who raised Goldie after her parents ran off and thinks Goldie’s plan to be a surrogate for a gay couple is straight from the Devil.

The New Normal is much like your typical sitcom: wacky situations, colorful characters, and storylines that can be neatly wrapped up in 22 minutes. The half-hour sitcom format is new for Murphy, but he proves up to the task. The writing is witty, the dialogue snappy, the characters well-cast. And it’s funny, oh so funny. Bryan’s one-liners are enough to keep me coming back week-after-week.

But what I really love about The New Normal is how it pushes boundaries without being pushy. It’s not preachy, there’s no soapbox here. It’s just a sitcom about a couple trying to have a baby… and that couple happens to be gay. When you see how sweet and normal these two men are, Ellen Barkin’s homophobic character seems out of touch and ridiculous by comparison. How could she not love these two men? And how could she think for one second that they would make anything less than spectacular fathers?

I love that we’ve reached the point where seeing gay characters on-screen doesn’t give us pause, not for one second. When those characters can kiss and hug and be in love and it seems like the most natural thing in the world. Because it is. This is how we will achieve gay rights in this country, by showing each and every person in American that gay people are just like straight people. They have jobs, they fall in love, they want families. And I think once everyone sees that they are no different, then the idea of treating them differently will become an anachronism.

Until then, I’m just happy that NBC is greenlighting shows like The New Normal, and that there are people in the world like Ryan Murphy to make them.

The New Normal airs Tuesdays at 9:30pm EST/8:30 pm CST.

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