I’ll admit it. I’m not a huge fan of the “single camera sitcom” format. I’m not sure why that is, I’ve just never been able to relate to a show shot in that format the way I have with ones shot in the more traditional three camera setups. They just seem odd, almost if they are forcing you to approach the half hour comedy as you would a scripted drama. In my eyes, this is unnatural.
In many ways, my ability to overcome that prejudice is what The New Normal is all about.
When I first heard about this show, I was convinced that it would be just another failed attempt at copying the formula that has made Modern Family so popular. But show creator Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck, Glee, American Horror Story) has taken a different approach. Instead of the comedy coming from outrageous characters and situations, Murphy has crafted a show that instead focuses on ordinary people, in ordinary situations. A comedy where the characters have the capacity for humor instead of having the humor forced upon them by outside circumstances. And it really works.
The main plot of the show (as told through the framing device of a father prerecording a video for his soon to be born child) is quite simple. Bryan (Andrew Rannells) and David (Justin Bartha), a successful couple, want to have a child. They plan to do this through a surrogate, Goldie (Georgia King). That’s it. No weird living arrangements, no outrageous characters, none of the usual pitfalls new comedies seem to fall into. Sure, there is NeNe Leakes as Rocky, Bryan’s outspoken assistant, who buys herself gifts from her boss without his knowledge, and Ellen Barkin as Jane Forrest, Goldie’s “Nana”, whose every line seems to ripped from the picket signs of the Westboro Baptist church, but these are the exceptions, not the rule.
The breakout actor in The New Normal has to be Bebe Wood as Shania Clemmons, Goldie’s 8-year-old technology-savvy daughter, who steals every scene that she is in (one of my favorite lines in the whole thing is delivered by her, regarding her “unfriending” Jane). This young actress alone is reason to watch this delightful program.
When it comes down to it, The New Normal is about what constitutes a good family, not simply what the definition of family is. The characters are likable, and easy to relate to, and I for one hope that this show lasts a long time. The New Normal premieres Tuesday, September 10, at 9:30/8:30c on NBC.
But don’t take my word for it, watch the pilot yourself, than leave your comments below.