People and blogs have been buzzing over Ryan Murphy’s new TV series The New Normal, which premiered Monday night on NBC. It was actually the second episode, if you consider the unofficial preview episode that aired during the Olympics and then again on Monday night.
The Glee-creator’s second foray into TV has gained a lot of hype — and rightfully so. If you ask me, Glee has set the bar high. And with Andrew Rannells in a leading role (his quick ascent from dancing Mormon on Broadway to flaming ex-boyfriend in Girls to soon-to-be gay dad in Normal has been fun to watch), I’m going into this new series with high hopes. The real question is if Murphy can knock it out of the park a second time.
After last night’s episode, it looks like he’s off to a strong start.
The show’s premise can best be summarized with a line from the episode, in which Bryan (Andrew Rannells) sings: “First comes love, then comes the inability to marry, then comes a stranger and an invasive medical procedure, then comes the baby in a baby carriage.”
The New Normal is like Glee all grown up. Picture Kurt and Blaine 20 years older, richer, and ready to start a family — with the help of an adorable surrogate mom. Throw in a hilarious grandma from hell (Ellen Barkin) and the razor-sharp one-liners that Murphy is famous for, and you’ve got yourself a winning fall TV show.
The pilot started out with a laugh (“I outbid James Franco just so I could see his neck vein throb in sexy frustration,” says Bryan) and kept them coming throughout the 30-minute episode. But my favorite parts came, surprisingly, from the surrogate’s young daughter Shania (Bebe Wood), who killed it with her British impersonations of Little Edie from Grey Gardens. She and Bryan are forming a bond that’s already melting my heart.
One bone you could pick with The New Normal is that its premise isn’t all that new. Not in Hollywood, anyway. The show attempts to redefine the meaning of a modern family, but that has already been done by, well, Modern Family. Parallels will undoubtedly be made between the shows, but I think that’s beside the point.
The New Normal makes you feel for its characters. It’s a show that’s brimming with heart — almost to the point of sentimental — which is Ryan Murphy’s signature move. And you know what? I think it’s working here as well as it does in Glee.
Will the show last the season? I sure hope so.