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‘The New Normal’ adopts change

Sarah Chayer, 4Play Writer
April 17, 2013
Filed under 4Play

NBC’s “The New Normal” hopes to capitalize on an era that embraces the abnormal — from Lady Gaga to Ke$ha.

The show follows partners Bryan, played by Andrew Rannells, and David, played by Justin Bartha. Both are contently living in Los Angeles when they decide to have a baby.

Meanwhile, a young mother named Goldie, played by Georgia King, discovers her husband Clay is cheating on her.

Distraught and desperate for a change in scenery, Goldie takes her 9 year-old daughter Shania, played by Bebe Wood, and drives across the country to California to start a new life.

To finance her dream of becoming a lawyer, Goldie signs up to be a surrogate mother. She requests to carry a baby for a homosexual couple and is introduced to Bryan and David.

Goldie’s nana Jane arrives in California soon after, set on talking her granddaughter out of the pregnancy. Though a bigot, she finds herself roped into the group along with Bryan’s assistant, Rocky, played by NeNe Leakes.

Together they form a pseudo-family brought together by Bryan and David’s impending parenthood.

“The New Normal” shows the many variations in family composition present in modern society. The show has David and Bryan as a gay couple with a surrogate. It has Goldie and Clay as young, divorced, parents still trying to recapture their dreams after having a child. There is also Jane, who was left to raise a granddaughter after the mother left. We have David as an only child and Bryan who is one of six siblings. This diversity is nice for people who don’t have traditional families.

Probably the best thing about David and Bryan’s relationship is the contrast between the more feminine television producer Bryan and the masculine doctor and football fan David. I appreciate the fact that the writers kept David’s character so realistic. Not all gay men are like the antique shopping, childish Bryan, and it is so important that people recognize that sexual preference does not change a person’s entire being.

As pleased as I am with the depictions of David and Bryan individually, their chemistry on camera falls flat. Whereas Andrew Rannells is gay off-camera, Justin Bartha is straight but a highly involved gay rights activist. Seeing an actor like Bartha, who is known for his roles in “National Treasure” and “The Hangover,” play a homosexual is difficult to get past. Though everyone is more than accepting of Neil Patrick Harris playing a womanizer on “How I Met Your Mother,” Bartha’s role isn’t as easy to accept.

The important thing about “The New Normal” is that it is not about homosexuality but diversity. Bryan and David live, love and fight like any heterosexual couple would, and in the end the show is less about them and more about the diversity of families we have in our society.