With a number of shows unraveling in the coming days (you can see our Sept. Calendar here), many networks have been giving viewers a shot to preview their new fall fare online. One of those shows is NBC’s “The New Normal” and we’ve taken the time to watch it and analyze the potential the show might have this season. Check out our review below and let us know what you think!
The New Normal pilot premieres TONIGHT after the season premiere of “The Voice” at 10/9c and an all-new episode airs TOMORROW after “Go On” at 9:30/8:30c on NBC!
The episode opens with a quick introduction to the fact that Bryan (Andrew Rannells) is computer illiterate and attempting to create a video for his future child. Rocky (NeNe Leakes) steps in and saves the day with some nimble fingers and sharp wit. Bryan starts his video blog (which starts to get a little emotional), but quickly delves into the back-story leading up to this point.
We flashback to a previous point in time (Two days? Two weeks? Two million years and a haircut later? Who knows? It’s television, people, just stay with me!) and we’re in Ohio, where we’re introduced to Goldie (Georgia King), her daughter Shania (Bebe Wood), and Goldie’s bigoted, sharp-tongued grandmother, Jane (Ellen Barkin). Goldie (who apparently has the worst grandmother and luck with men) finds herself newly single and looking to make a change in life. Seizing her opportunity by taking Jane’s car and life-advice from a 10 year-old, Goldie and Shania make a break for the West Coast.
Realizing that travel from Ohio to California takes some time (even in magical TV land!), we shift gears to follow Bryan and David (Justin Bartha), a gay couple in Los Angeles, as they decide to add a baby to their lives. Their journey takes them to a family planning organization, where they find their perfect donor, Abby. Now, they just need a surrogate!
As Goldie and Shania frolic on the beach in sunny Santa Monica, Goldie admits that she had dreams (Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream?), where she wanted to be a lawyer, but got sidetracked by family and life. Jane, who had to take a bus to work (A BUS! The horrors of life!), finally gets Goldie on the phone, only to realize they’re not coming back to Ohio because Goldie’s got a plan to make money.
Since it’s television, where everything in the universe lines up the way it should: Goldie, meet Bryan and David. Bryan and David, meet Goldie, your potential surrogate. They hash out the details (including the financials, which will allow Goldie to fulfill her dream of becoming a lawyer), and decide to move forward with the plan. Once they get to the offices for implanting the embryos, Jane shows up (thanks to the help of social networking) just in time to stop the procedure. As if the gay couple Goldie was thinking of being a surrogate for wasn’t enough to aggravate Jane, Rocky shows up to push her over the edge (insert jokes about eggs and gay elephants here – No, I’m not kidding.)
After Goldie puts her foot down about being a surrogate and Jane shares a very colorful story about her past relationships, we jump to finding out if the implantation process worked and learn that Bryan and David are willing to help Goldie with her new outlook on life. The episode ends as the new “family” (Bryan, David, Goldie and Shania) waits anxiously to find out if Goldie is pregnant.
From Bryan and David, who are two of the most “normal” gays being portrayed on television right now (no disrespect to Modern Family), to Goldie and Shania, who are the typical mother/daughter combo trying to make it in this crazy, mixed-up world, to Jane and Rocky, who make it seem like there’s never going to be a sit-down Thanksgiving dinner in their future together, the cast of The New Normal is just wacky enough to make the show work. When the scene starts to get too serious or too over-the-top campy, there’s the right balance of characters to pull it back into focus. Finding the right actors to pull of these roles was done well, and I am excited to see what they do (or say) next.
Season Plot Line
The pilot episode did a great job of setting up the series without giving away too much of the season as a whole. Between the possibility of a pregnant law student (cue the daydreams of Goldie addressing the jury when her water breaks – since it’s perfectly acceptable to believe you can go from starting law school to taking cases in 9 months. It’s TV, remember?!?), a gay couple who want nothing more than to start a family (cue the egg donor wanting the baby back in episode 7), the bigoted grandma (who will undoubtedly move to California to be closer to her next great-grandchild), and the sassy, opinionated woman who can only be portrayed accurately by NeNe Leakes (who steals every scene in the pilot episode), the show has the ability to go in many directions while staying on course to deliver (no pun intended) the payoff at the end of the season.
Ryan Murphy created a very likeable show with some great characters. If you’re a fan of the way Glee is filmed, than you’ll love The New Normal. There’s a definite feeling of it being one of his signature shows. I think there’s a great potential for this one to make it through its first season without any issues. What twists and turns they take with the storyline will determine whether they make it back for a second. Personally, I look forward to watching the entire season and seeing where the storyline goes. From the previews, it appears that there’s more Jane and Rocky and that’s enough in my book to warrant giving this show 4 Yaks out of 5.