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 “news stories” about the “controversy,” 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 “Top 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 “in 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 “see a different attitude from [Nana Jane] shortly.” Presumably to make her more empathetic, they”d already revealed the supposed source of her “homophobia” 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 “Please 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 “eat your spinach” earnestness is more After School Special than All About Eve.
Louis Peitzman of NewNowNext.com (whose profile describes him as “a little bit Dorothy, a little bit Blanche”) complains about all the “teaching 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.