The New Normal: Episode 3 review

13 01 2014

Episode 3: “Baby Clothes”

Airdate: Sept. 18, 2012

Written by Ryan Murphy

Plot summary:

David catches Bryan buying baby clothes and says Bryan broke their promise not to buy any clothes before the blood test results (to see if the baby has any deficiencies or problems).  At an outlet store, a straight couple say some homophobic things to Bryan and David after seeing them kiss.  When Bryan says they’re also going to have a family, the man tells them, “That’s disgusting.  I feel bad for that kid.”

After the incident, David tries to let it go, but Bryan is upset.  It’s one thing to be called names and hateful things when they’re just a gay couple, but would they do if that happened in front of their kid?  As parents, they can’t simply be ashamed or ignore it.  Their kid shouldn’t have to feel that.  “How are we supposed to protect our baby from hate?” asks Bryan.  At the next ultrasound appointment, Goldie reveals that she saw the incident with the homophobic couple and Bryan and David at the store but was too afraid to jump in and tell them off.  She says she will never do that again.  Everyone sees/hears the heartbeat of the baby.  Yay.

Meanwhile, Jane catches Shania, who is wearing a little baby dress as a midriff-revealing halter-top at school, making out with another boy.  Jane immediately becomes concerned for Shania because she had Goldie when she was 17, and Goldie had Shania when she was 17 as well.

At the end of the episode, David shows Bryan a new baby-sized track suit he bought for their kid, despite still not having the test results.  Bryan says they will always be something not perfect about their situation, that there will always be negatives in their lives (there may always be something negative/not ideal when finding out info about their unborn child through tests, and living with two dads is always going to be difficult for their kid), but he needs to “celebrate the wins.”

Goldie, Shania, and Jane come by.  Bryan and David invite them to stay.  Bryan and conservative Jane even share a moment by saying the same punchline at the same time.  Not-so subtle looks of “we might have more in common than we thought!” and the family sits down to eat dinner together.


This is by far the best episode yet.  Let me tell you why!

As I’ve stated previously, there are lots of serious issues (still, unfortunately) when it comes to gay families and raising children.  This episode not only gives a hint of the homophobia and intolerance against gay couples, but also couples who have/intend to have children.  That’s really powerful stuff.  I’m thankful that Mr. Murphy handled the scene in the store with the bigot couple really well and not as sentimental as it could have been.  After all, there are people (unfortunately, again) who think exactly like the man in the store.  Good dramatic moment.  And the discussion with Bryan and David about it afterwards and not being parents who are ashamed was pretty touching too.

Last week, Kathleen made a comment about Jamie, the super flaming gay character on The Furies, saying that she didn’t take him seriously because he was so ridiculously gay and like an inferno fire.  That didn’t bother me much because I didn’t expect Jamie to ever have or do anything serious.  He was fun all the time (or maybe he won’t be now…).  In this ep., when Bryan is near-crying and seriously talks to David about not being ashamed to be gay in front of their kid, I couldn’t help but think that was exactly what Kathleen was talking about.  Bryan is so gay and not a serious person that when he’s the one talking about such serious, life-altering topics, the scene doesn’t quite come across as genuine as is intended.  I didn’t take him as seriously as, say, if David had been the one saying all of it.  So that didn’t quite work 100% for me (I still bought it though).

What makes this episode so good is in the way it comfortably demonstrates a very good balance between comedy and drama.  There are serious, dramatic issues with gay couples raising families, but there’s also the funny B-plot with Shania making out with a boy and Jane taking them to Planned Parenthood to get them birth control (the kids are 9 years old!!!  What a hilarious scene).  Even in these two plots, there are both dramatic and comedic elements/incidents that don’t work against each other like they did in the first two episodes.  For example, Bryan comments on a little beanie shaped like a frog and puts it on in the store, while in the other plot, Goldie realizes she should probably talk to Shania about sex so she doesn’t continue the line of 17-year old pregnancies.  Good character development all around too.

This is what I feel the show should be like, were it my show.  Still, I have this strange feeling like it won’t last…

The New Normal: Episode 2 review

7 01 2014

Episode 2: “Sofa’s Choice”

Airdate: Sept. 11, 2012

Written by Ryan Murphy and Allison Adler

Plot summary:

Everyone waits on a blood test that will determine whether or not Goldie is pregnant.  In the meantime, Bryan bonds with Shania, who impersonates Little Edie from Grey Gardens.  He tries to get her to confess that she drew on the expensive couch in the house.  David questions whether he’s ready to have a kid in his life.  Bryan and David offer Goldie to live in their super nice guesthouse instead of the run-down (modest, really) place they’re living at now.  Upon Jane’s (Goldie’s grandmother) insistence, Clay, now Goldie’s ex, returns to get back together with her.

Eventually, Bryan figures out it was Jane who drew on the couch (to get Bryan and David angry at Shania).  David is ready to be a dad.  Goldie rejects Clay and asks for a divorce.  After moving in for a bit, she decides that she can’t accept Bryan and David’s offer to live in the guesthouse, saying it’s what they’ve earned, not her.  At the end of the episode, everyone learns that the blood test says Goldie is pregnant.  Group hug!


Well, I like this episode more than I did the pilot, oddly enough.  Yes, most, if not all, the characters are still stereotypes (Bryan getting upset that the expensive, brand-name couch got vandalized, Clay is a Neanderthal straight man), but there are some interesting developments.  We see how David and Bryan met years ago.  Bryan doesn’t seem to have changed (he was the same flamboyant guy), but David, dressed like a geek and fresh out of medical school, is shy, socially awkward and wants to impress his (straight) friends by buying Bryan a drink.  That’s the kind of gay guy I want to see on TV.  Then we jump back to the present, and David is now not dressed like a geek, is well-groomed and handsome.  He’s nice to look at, sure, but he’s not as compelling a character as he once was, it seems.  At least for me.

Shania not fitting in at school is a familiar thing that Ryan Murphy’s been mining on Glee.  It makes sense, though, considering Shania is an oddball.  On the other hand, the Jane as the antagonist is already beginning to feel forced.  Yeah, I get that she’s the personification for all the Republican, conservative beliefs out there, but she’s so evil with no characterization that she comes off as a caricature/cartoon villain.  We know her efforts are going to fail, but that she’ll be back next week to try and ruin things again.  Not sure if she’s actually going to do anything besides be a one-note character (it also doesn’t help that Ellen Barkin delivers her lines in the same tone over and over again).

Maybe this is just me, but I’m beginning to really see Murphy’s writing, to the point where it pulls me out of the scene.  For example, Jane tells Goldie, ““Your daughter has no business spending time with those candy-packers in that Sodom and Gomorrah fudge factory”.  This is meant to be funny, I know, but it’s crass and feels like something Sue Sylvester would say on Glee.  It made me aware of the writing because although it might look funny on the page and be something Jane would say, it’s such an unnatural phrase that it doesn’t work in the show.

Also, maybe I’m just getting used to the pacing, but this episode doesn’t feel as hurried as the pilot.  There are still some cuts that are abrupt, but it seems as if the show is settling down, finding its groove.  I hope so, anyway.

Retiring from Gay

27 10 2013

I love you and I miss you, Happy Endings.