Indoor Cat’s Guide to… The New Normal
Yesterday, NBC released the pilot for The New Normal, so of course, I took 22 minutes to check it out. So far, I’ve read only good things about the show, except for the backlash from the premise. The New Normal is about a gay couple (Andrew Rannels and Justin Bartha) and their surrogate, Goldie (Georgia King). The NBC affiliate in Utah is refusing to air the show, and One Million Moms called for a boycott of the show already. Their general argument seems to be that we shouldn’t be supporting the idea of gay parents as “normal.”
However, the show is about more than just a gay couple trying to have a baby. It’s about dreaming of a better life for yourself. For David and Bryan (the gay couple), that means expanding their family. For Goldie, the surrogate, it means improving her life and her daughter’s life. The whole reason she’s offering to be a surrogate is for the money- $35,000. That will change their lives immensely, even allowing Goldie to go to law school, like she dreamed about before she ever got pregnant.
This was definitely one of the strongest pilots I’ve seen yet this season, though not without it’s flaws. The actors all have very good chemistry- you really get the sense that they’re bonded. The weak link in the cast, based on the pilot, seems to be NeNe Leaks, a former Real Housewife. Her scenes just fall a little flat, especially during the confrontation with Goldie’s exceptionally bigoted Nana, played by Ellen Barkin. Nana’s scenes are also a little one note- I get that you have to set up that she’s a bigot, but you don’t have to hit me over the head with it. Nana’s best scene is when she’s confronting Goldie’s husband after Goldie caught him sleeping with another woman (an Asian- gasp!). This scene shows that as much as Nana hates all people of all backgrounds except those straight, Christian, whiteys, she does truly love her family and will protect them as she sees fit.
I also realize that this is a pilot, so the show runners have to get things set up in order to have a show. You have to establish the overall plot, establish the characters, and set a tone for the show. However, I think The New Normal overreaches a bit in establishing the plot and characters and it results in an overall rushed feeling. I feel like we rush through the initial story, through Bryan and David struggling with choosing to become parents, with finding the right surrogate, with dealing from the fallout of finding the wrong surrogate before finding Goldie. With Goldie, we don’t actually see her decide to become a surrogate at all- we know she needs money so that she and her daughter can stay in California, and the next thing we know she’s being interviewed by the men. But most people don’t just go, “I need money. I’ll be a surrogate!” It would’ve been good to see her decision making process with that.
My one other issue with Goldie, which will not be an issue for the majority of people out there, is her voice. Georgia King is a Scottish actress with a great Scottish accent. I’m quite jealous of her natural voice, in fact. And for the most part, when she puts on an American accent, it’s not too shabby. She can do it decently and fast, which is impressive. But then there are the moments where it sounds like she’s chewing on her tongue a bit- it just gets in the way, and since I have a sensitive ear to that kind of stuff (I’m looking at you, Rachel Taylor, Leo DiCaprio, and freaking Gwyneth Paltrow), it sometimes brings me out of the moment.
However, when the 22 minutes was up, I walked away feeling satisfied overall and, more importantly, looking forward to the next episode. I’m excited to see what the show turns into, since you can only be pregnant for 9 months- how do these bond forms that make this foundational relationship between Goldie and the two men last beyond her pregnancy?
My biggest concern about this show has nothing to do with plot, though, it has to do with the man behind the show- Ryan Murphy. Ryan Murphy is known for great shows- Nip/Tuck, Glee, American Horror Story. And for two out of those three, they’re best known for the fact that their first seasons were awesome, and they were never as good again. AHS is about to show whether Murphy can pull off a second season that is on par with the first, and if he does, hopefully that means good things for The New Normal as well.
Check out The New Normal on Hulu, or download the pilot for free on iTunes!