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The New Normal: Who are these adorable characters and why won’t they stop crying?

30 Aug

When it comes to television viewing, one of the only things harder than watching a beloved character cry is watching a bunch of characters you don’t know yet cry. It’s awkward. You don’t know how you’re supposed to feel, even as you’re being bonked over the head with the message to have a heart-warming moment.

Luckily, Ryan Murphy’s new sitcom, The New Normal, is apparently all about the awkward, or else being asked to watch three different characters cry at least once (there are a lot of misty eyes and bitten lips at various other moments as well) in our twenty-five minute first meeting would be even more uncomfortable than it already is.

Honestly, the pilot is charming, and far more cogent than I expected based on the early previews (hint: some of the weakest material is in those ads, so I strongly suggest giving the show a chance, where it shines is largely stuff you haven’t seen in the teasers). It’s also so sentimental, even in the face of Bryan’s hopefully soon-to-be-explained shallowness and our heroine’s grandmother’s epic bigotry, that it’s almost immediately a pleasure of an entirely guilty and preferably private sort.

Like most of Murphy’s work, The New Normal (a phrase I still associate the most strongly with bond firm PIMCO, so I certainly hope they’re amused), telegraphs almost immediately that it is a faerie tale when Goldie (yes, really) has a very bad no good day while dressed in a cap-sleeved and aproned work uniform that just screams a budget version of any number of storybook princesses.

She’s sleeping, of course, and not following her dreams until she gets a wake-up call in the form of her cheating partner, her vicious grandmother, and her cleverer-than-all-of-them-daughter. One stolen car and several thousand miles from Ohio later, Goldie meets her fairy god princes who are going to help her become a lawyer since she’s going to help them have a baby! Sure, it’s not a neat allegory, but the show is about how nothing’s neat when it comes to family; it’ll do for now.

Meanwhile, even in the first episode we can already start checking off items from The Tropes of Ryan Murphy and that’s before we even get to the Sudden-Onset Bisexuality episode that’s so clearly looming in the future I’m forced to confess that I like television because it’s predictable.

The New Normal isn’t a great show, yet, but it could be, especially once the people we’re forced to watch cry no longer feel like strangers to us. In the meantime, it’s weirdly sweet, gratifyingly mundane, has a really cute dog, and led to a hilarious round of “Wait, which one is Klaine and which one is Blair?” from Patty (who doesn’t watch Glee but is often forced to follow along vicariously with results like that, that, in their own way, speak to the degree to which the Bryan and David resemblance to Kurt and Blaine is almost entirely superficial, Ryan Murphy’s ever increasingly hilarious Twitter presence aside).

While the show itself premiers on September 11th, you can catch it early on the NBC website or Hulu or, as usual, just catch the .gif highlights via Tumblr.

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5 Responses to “The New Normal: Who are these adorable characters and why won’t they stop crying?”

  1. Natalie (@redlilacs) August 30, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    The most perfect way to describe my relationship with my favourite shows: ‘catch the .gif highlights via Tumblr’.

    I was one of the people who denied that this new couple would be ‘future!Klaine’ when the sneak peaks started seeping out, and I dreaded the comparisons, but even I kept thinking ‘I could definitely see Kurt saying something like that’. The dynamic is completely off for Klaine, and I don’t think either of the characters are completely Kurt and/or Blaine, but the comparisons are funny..until you’ve seen 5 million of them in the tags.

    I agree that it is definitely a show that has potential. There were problems with the pilot, but I don’t generally trust pilots in terms of presenting shows well anyway. Basically, I’m willing to give it a chance, I kind of trust Ryan Murphy, I hope Andrew Rannells gets to showcase his talent well because he deserves it (as do the other actors, but I’m not really familiar with those), and I hope it grows to be more than the stereotypical tale it could well be. The only characters I really didn’t like were NeNe’s character, but I had an idea I wouldn’t get the point of her, and the grandma is slightly ott for my taste.

    • RM August 30, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

      I’m not sure I’m even willing to repeat some of the things my grandmother used to say, but it suffices to say that I did not find the grandmother on the show OTT at all other than the gun. Which is a little scary.

      • Natalie (@redlilacs) August 30, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

        I sometimes wonder whether it’s just my upbringing or culture that makes me find characters like that so unbelievable. I come from a family of people with offensive opinions, but they prefer to bitch behind backs than say them in broad daylight. Or maybe I’m missing out on some US humour, I think we have a different kind of over the top character in the UK.

      • so thinky August 30, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

        I felt the same way about Nana from Hell. I thought the writing was funny, but at the same time I kept thinking, I have some relatives, unfortunately, who would watch Nana and not see the humor.

        But for a pilot, I really liked all the characters . . . and often I find pilots to be so over-eager, so I often decide to watch a show some more to see if it grows on me. I found David, Bryan and Goldie to be really charming, though, and I really want to watch.

        I think Ryan Murphy’s tweets are interesting on the Klaine similarities. They seem smart, actually, since he’s got that fan base to court as viewers for this new show. In fact I can’t help but see his entire Twitter existence in this way, as he’s clearly trying to drum up excitement for this as well as what is almost Glee 2.0.

  2. laziest klainer August 30, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    I have pledged not to watch this, because I don’t want Ryan Murphy to break my heart again, particularly because he hooks you and then the show turns into something else. But it just sounds like it has a high risk of turning into Will & Grace — babymomma is Grace – with most of the show about her failing love life until she has a happy ending; the couple is Will & Jack, her not-crazy and crazy gay sidekicks; and Nana is Karen with her inappropriate comments. Add a kid in for a more family tone. Would love your comments on this possibility, and completely admit that this is speculation, since I haven’t watched the show.

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