September 25, 2012


None of their campaigns has been particularly successful, including the one against The New Normal. While researching this piece, I read quite a few blog posts and entertainment-section “€œnews stories”€ about the “€œcontroversy,”€ but I spend many hours a day on right-wing websites and can report that nobody’s mentioned the show even once. Lots of Bigfoot sightings, no corpse.

For now, the show’s ratings hover around the low end of “€œTop 20,”€ with about seven million viewers. I”€™m not picking up any Emmy buzz.

And it looks like the joke’s on me, because only a few episodes in, the creators of The New Normal have already decided to take Nana “€œin a different direction,”€ as they say in showbiz and at almost every office where I”€™ve ever worked.
Showrunners wasted no time promising that viewers would “€œsee a different attitude from [Nana Jane] shortly.”€ Presumably to make her more empathetic, they”€™d already revealed the supposed source of her “€œhomophobia”€ in the pilot: Decades earlier, she”€™d walked in on her husband while he was having sex with another man.

Then in episode three, Nana Jane breaks down and buys baby clothes (although one tiny shirt reads “€œPlease Help Me”€).

Interestingly, the biggest critics of The New Normal (among those who have actually watched it) have been gay pop-culture scribes.

For some, the show’s “€œeat your spinach”€ earnestness is more After School Special than All About Eve.
Louis Peitzman of (whose profile describes him as “€œa little bit Dorothy, a little bit Blanche”€) complains about all the “€œteaching moments”€ being squeezed into each episode:

At the outlet mall, Bryan and David share a kiss that’s interrupted by your standard TV bigot. (Do I doubt that this homophobia exists in real life? Of course not. It was still a little much.)

For other gay writers, The New Normal isn”€™t in-your-face and groundbreaking enough. It leans too heavily on cultural stereotypes: The clean-cut, monogamous, too-good-to-be-true gay couple; the sassy Amazonian black chick; and the scrappy, lovable midget. (There’s even a running gag about Grey Gardens, for Edie’s sake.)

I”€™m disappointed that what I”€™d hoped would be my own private Kato Show wasn”€™t entertaining enough to convert me from my usual Tuesday-night viewing. When gays can”€™t even put out a simple sitcom that’s more compelling than watching five foul-mouthed straight people dig through abandoned storage containers, America is surely well into its long-rumored decline.



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