TV Critics Roundtable: “The New Normal”


What do you make of the sitcom staple of having a gay couple where one is typically masculine and the other is more stereotypically gay?

TRISH BENDIX: Honestly, I don’t think that Modern Family is as great of an example of this as The New Normal is/will be. I find the men on Modern Family to be more alike than the ones on The New Normal. However, I think that it’s just easier to write for when people in couples are so radically different. I think the best example of a non-stereotypical gay man on TV is Happy Endings’ Max, and the men he dates seem to be just as non-stereotypical. So it can be done without these stereotypes, but I think it’s so hard to rid of stereotypes altogether when it comes to writing for network TV.

DAMIAN HOLBROOK: I’m sad that the two characters are so cookie cutter. You know, the butch and the fem. There’s no shades of grey there. The fact that Justin’s character at the end gets emotional…why can’t these just be two well-drafted characters who are both emotional and possibly aspects of both sides of this coin? And it did feel like it took a while for it to get to any genuine laughs because the other laughs were traded on, ‘Oh, he’s so nelly’ and, ‘He watches sports. He’s talking to the sports.’

LAURA PRUDOM: The ‘I want to have a little accessory baby that I can dress up.’ I feel like that is a great disservice…but it has to played

JIM HALTERMAN: It was funny that the one genuine laugh I had was when the little girl [Bebe Wood] makes the comment about Rannells’ pants. And he says something like, ‘They’re very expensive.’ And she goes, ‘To me they don’t look like that.’ Her line made me laugh. And then they said in the panel (at the Television Critics Association Press Tour) that she improvised that line.

Does a little NeNe Leakes go a long or short way?

AE: What did you think of NeNe Leakes and her role?

DAN FIENBERG: On Glee, I’ve actually found myself liking NeNe Leakes quite a bit. She has a great comedic delivery and a very different screen energy. In New Normal, however, I can already find myself sensing that a little NeNe Leakes goes a long way.

JIM HALTERMAN: And this may be a little bit outside of the show, but I can’t help but think about the fact that there seems to be a nice bridge for people from reality TV. I mean, we’ve been seeing the transition whether it’s Elisabeth Hasselbeck from Survivor to The View

DAMIAN HOLBROOK: Or even David Giuntoli (Road Rules to NBC’s Grimm).

JIM HALTERMAN: But it will be interesting if all of sudden you kind of forget that that’s where she came from.

DAMIAN HOLBROOK: It would be amazing to say that NeNe Leakes was the groundbreaker, that crossover artist that Traci Lords never got to be from porn to legitimate television. But NeNe clearly is playing very much herself and that character she honed to perfection on Real Housewives, it works in these roles that she gets. She’s eminently watchable.


AE: Your prediction? Will the show click with viewers and enjoy a long run? Or burn out quickly?

DAN FIENBERG: NBC needs something to succeed. Anything. And I think NBC made a big commitment to land The New Normal. To my mind, that makes The New Normal more likely to have at least a multi-season run than several of NBC’s other new comedies.

LAURA PRUDOM: I think the fact that its Ryan Murphy will give it a boost in the beginning.

DAMIAN HOLBROOK: I just think straight America is going to be like, ‘Oh those funny gays, let’s watch that.’

TRISH BENDIX: It’ll be really interesting to see how viewers respond, but I think they have some great talent both on camera and behind it. I’m more concerned for Season 2 or whenever the baby is actually delivered and how the surrogate mom will be involved after-the-fact.

JIM HALTERMAN: The time slot is not a guarantee, but I think people will tune in at first if not because they’re interested in what they’ve seen in the many, many promos out there, but also just for the controversy factor and what curiosity that has created. Is this truly as offensive and worthy of the One Million Moms fuss? I’m curious to see how the stereotypes continue, and if that will be the staple of the show– or if the writers will create more three-dimensional characters. Time will tell.

The second episode of The New Normal airs tonight in its regular Tuesday at 9:30 timeslot while the pilot will be re-aired Wednesday at 10:30pm on NBC.

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