television review : Dysfunction leads to funny family

Roze Brooks

Ryan Murphy, best known for his involvement in several popular shows,  including Glee, Nip Tuck and American Horror Story,  recently adopted a new role with the premiere of television show “The New Normal.”

The farcical-style comedy introduces a homosexual couple, played by Justin Bartha and Andrew Ranells, hanging onto the hope that their surrogate mother, played by Georgia King, will become pregnant with their child.

The premiere episode set a healthy foundation for the main characters, including the hilarious Rocky, played by The Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Nene Leakes, who adds blunt humor that meshes well with the bigoted opinions of Ellen, played by Jane Forrest.

The novelty of “The New Normal” is how it purposefully avoids using stereotypes to define the atypical characters.  David and Bryan are recognizable as two gay males. However, the show focuses attention on their lives and their current situation rather than their sexual orientations.  Focus is placed on the relationship between the couple and their surrogate, Goldie.

King proves her worth in one of her first Americanized roles as the surrogate mother. Initially from Edinburgh, Scotland, there is no hint of an accent in her dialogue. The dynamic of her character as she transitions into living in a new town with her own child, Shaniya, played by Bebe Wood, is executed in an impactful and realistic way, never overshadowed by the fast-paced humor throughout the first episode.

Her collaboration with Bartha and Ranells sets up the wholesome family atmosphere for which the show’s characters all strive.  Bartha, a straight actor, convincingly portrays his gay on-screen persona, working effectively with Ranells to promote the message that love sees no gender.

A subplot of meddling and conspiracy adds more humor, pitting Goldie’s grandmother against her decision to be a surrogate mother. Ellen resorts to interesting, childish means to change everyone’s minds.

Goldie is forced to analyze what is best for herself and, more importantly, her daughter without being manipulated by her overbearing grandmother.

Eventually, someone questions whether a gay couple should have a family. The most recent episode shows the couple in a department store, looking at baby clothes.  In their euphoria, they kiss. A man in the background disagrees.  Holding his wife’s hand while attempting to cover his young daughter’s eyes, he tells the couple not to kiss in public.  The confrontation was realistic and emphasized the current societal issue, said later during a domestic bedroom quarrel by Bryan,

“How are we supposed to protect our baby from hate?”

This message seems to be the perfect, driving point for this well-executed show depicting a new generation of atypical family dynamics.

A single mother and surrogate struggling with personal conflict while her daughter creates her own identity as a 9-year-old outcast and a homosexual couple acknowledging and resisting society’s judgment merge together for a comedic sitcom with a greater purpose.

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