One of my favorite new shows this fall is The New Normal, NBC’s comedy about a gay couple (Justin Bartha and Andrew Rannells) who hire a surrogate named Goldie (Georgia King) to carry a baby for them. I didn’t expect to like it, but it’s funny, sweet and heartfelt. Well, mostly.
Apparently, there’s a memo going around that you have to have an offensive female on comedies now — like Jane Lynch on Glee and Cloris Leachman on Raising Hope. I’m not sure why that is. Are offense females funny? Maybe I just need to embrace the concept.
In The New Normal, the part of the offensive female is played by Ellen Barkin, who plays Goldie’s grandmother. But in my family review of the show over at Orlando Family Magazine, I wondered if the Barkin character would be TOO offensive for viewers. She’s over-the-top racist, homophobic, politically incorrect, and insulting.
I guess she’s the type of character that people will talk about over the water cooler the next day, but you have to wonder if the writers will run out of crude epithets for her to lob at people. And whether The New Normal pushes the boundaries of what you can and cannot do on network TV too far. Remember, this is NBC, not FX or HBO. It’s rated TV-14, but too cringe-worthy for me to watch with my teens.
And I get what executive producer Ryan Murphy is trying to do here. He’s taking his other show Glee a step further by making a gay couple the focus and stepping up the offensive female character. He’s drawing awareness to the fact that a family doesn’t have to be a heterosexual married couple with 2.5 kids. And also to the fact that vile people exist, and instead of coping with it in silence, maybe it’s better to face it.
All good, but I just hope people won’t find The New Normal so in-your-face offensive that they won’t watch. It’s already been banned by a Mormon church-owned NBC affiliate in Utah, which, of course, gave it tons of press. But the show really does bring up some important issues and shake people out of their doldrums.
I have a feeling The New Normal will probably be around for a while. There may be people who won’t watch it, but more people who do. And the gifs and memes are already burning a hole in Tumblr’s server, so there’s that.
What do you think? Are offensive female characters funny? Does Ellen Barkin’s character on The New Normal make you cringe? Or does she make you think?
And here’s what keeps me watching The New Normal: