The New Normal Challenges Societal Issues
Ryan Murphy is known for his ability to keep things interesting, and in his new sitcom The New Normal he has not fallen short on that expectations. In this series Bryan and David, a happy gay couple living in L. A. with respectable jobs, seem to have everything except for the one thing they want most, a child. The couple hires Goldie, a young mother who had just left her adulterous husband in Ohio and ran away to L. A. with daughter, Shania, to start over and forget her old life, to be a surrogate mother for them.
Jane, Goldie’s conservative and overly bigoted grandmother, follows them against her granddaughter’s wishes, causing an uproar in Goldie’s new life in the city because she is so disproving of Goldie’s decision to be a surrogate and Bryan and David’s lifestyle. Immediately after airing in September of 2012, the show was criticized tremendously. The people of the broadcasting network in Salt Lake City, Utah were so offended by the show that they went on to ban the show from their show time schedule. NBC Utah affiliate KSL-TV, the network which banned the show from airing in Utah, says that the show was “inappropriate on several dimensions. They went on to say that the dialogue was excessively rude and crude and the scenes were too explicit and the characterizations seem offensive. KSL-TV also insist that it challenges traditional family values and portrays bad role models. The trouble the show experienced from attempting to air in Utah was not the only trouble the show had endured. In July, before the show aired, One Million Moms publicly announced that they would be boycotting the show for being harmful to our society, accusing the dialogue of being too offensive.
Many members of the gay community also claimed to be boycotting the show for portraying offensive stereotypes of homosexuals. I must admit that I can see how the dialogue seems excessively crude and offensive. For example, in the pilot alone Jane uses the offensive phrases; “gay peacocks”, “ass campers”, “Jewed done the cost”, and “salami smokers”. It’s easy to see how people could take her bigoted words offensively. It’s obvious from her first scene in the show that her prejudices are very overzealous and over the top but that is precisely the point.
Nana seems as a nasty, hateful woman who has a potty mouth that anyone with a moral conscience would not want to replicate. Jane is used to show a societal problem in America today. A discussion of her behavior through the show should be of interest to more than just the fans and critics. Beyond these limited audiences, Nana is relevant to everyone in America because her bigotry was used by Ryan Murphy to display a nasty problem in our nation today. Her prejudice towards everyone that surrounds her is a mockery of many bigoted minds of Americans.
Indeed, it does seem excessive, but Murphy wanted to make sure the point of how offensive and wrong this behavior is was clear. While I see how this crass behavior and crude dialogue is inappropriate for children, the show is a somewhat late night sitcom with a target audience of adults. As adults who have experienced shows with far worse dialogues such as Jersey Shore, we should be able to stomach the harmless dialogue of The New Normal especially when there is such an important point behind it. Shows like Jersey Shore aren’t refused to air because of their horrible dialogues because of Americans’ love for their trash TV.
I believe that point shows that the problem with this show is truly just bigotry towards gay couples having children not the dialogue, which is Murphy’s entire point of making this show. It’s not just about entertaining television, it’s about making a stance on the problematic issue in America of bigotry and prejudice. The complaints given to show that it challenges family values seems to stem from the fact that it isn’t a traditional nuclear family that is headed by a man and woman. Many happen to have a major issue with gay couples creating a family. However, the show proves that the couple holds family values.
Firstly and most importantly they know and show how much they will love and provide for their child. They also show many other important family values and attributes. For example Bryan shows what a great father he will be and the confidence he will instill in his child in the second episode “Sofa’s Choice” when he talks to Shania because she’s having trouble fitting in at her new school. Shania says “Those kids don’t get me at all” Bryan replies “When I was in school no one got me either. This might be hard to believe Shania but I didn’t always fit in like I do now.
I always felt different just like you” Shania shouts “Bryan I’m a weirdo and I don’t want to be. I just want to be normal. ” Bryan matter-of-factly says “That’s a stupid short sided wish. ” Bryan then moves to the couch to sit beside Shania and puts his arm around her comfortingly and says “You don’t know this yet, but the most unique parts of you are also the ones that lead you to greatness. ” Shania says “How come you get me but my own mom doesn’t? ” Bryan says “Your mom may not completely get you, but she lets you be who you are and she loves you for it, and that’s what makes her a great mom.
Don’t be afraid to be who you are, Shania because you’re spectacular. ” This shows how supportive and problem solving he can be as a dad but also shows that he thinks it is very important for children to be accepted and loved no matter who they are and that they know it’s wonderful to be the person they are no matter what anyone else says. In the episode “Stay-at-home Dad” David and Bryan decide to send Goldie on a spa vacation and request to babysit Shania while she is gone because they want to experience and prepare for being stay at home dads.
While Goldie is gone David takes off time from his very important job as a doctor to wake up early to make her breakfast and study before taking her to school. This is an example of how he will be a responsible dad who will compromise the job he loves to take care of his kid. These are the family values and concern you must have for your children in order to be great parents, and while David and Bryan don’t have everything about parenting figured out ,because no one does before having children, they have the mindset, love, and values that can potentially make great parents.
While the show does show some unexpected characters and a family with an unusual dynamic it is in no way lacking great role models. While the adult characters in no way lack their fair share of dysfunction they are also great role models for America and for the young girl in the show Shania. The excerpt from the beginning of the previous paragraph is also a great example of how Bryan is an exceptional role model for Shania. Goldie while often times seems to act on a whim is a great role model.
In the same episode Bryan and David decide that they want Goldie and Shania to live in their luxurious guest house instead of their frumpy little house. Goldie turns the house down because she didn’t earn it and she wants to be a successful independent woman to give her daughter a great example so that one day she can become one as well. The most confrontational adult in the show is Nana, Jane. While her bigotry is repulsive she does not lack other admirable qualities.
Despite her overzealous prejudice that seems to constantly be spewing from her mouth, she is a strong independent woman and a great grandmother. When Goldie and Shania run away to California, Nana follows them and decides to stay even though she is disproving of Goldie’s decision and Bryan and David’s lifestyle because she cannot stand the thought of not being there to spend time with and protect her family. Nana also raised Goldie from eight years old when her daughter decided she didn’t want to and ran away. She also housed Goldie and Shania up until they ran away to California.
All of those attributes are wonderful to have, but the most important is that she has always been there for her family no matter what. Which Goldie admits in the episode “The Para-New Normal”, the Halloween episode, after an argument they’ve had about Goldie moving back to Ohio. Goldie says “God Nana, sometimes you make me so crazy, you know that? The things you say. ” Nana replies “I am what I am, I’m not about to change now. ” Goldie recedes “Well, then I guess I need to remember that. When I saw you trick-or-treating tonight, the way you were with Shania.
It made me think. You are the one person who has always been there for me. The only one actually. ” Goldie goes on to remember when her Nana took her trick-or-treating every year when she was young because her mother wasn’t there. “I like to think that I’m a good mom, Nana, but I didn’t learn that from my mom. I learned it from you. Thank you for always being there for us. ” Nana responds “Well, I couldn’t just leave you. ” “Well of course you could have, but you didn’t. And even now that I’m all grown up with people and choices that you don’t understand still…. ou still haven’t left. ” It may have taken Goldie a long time to realize it but her Nana is a great role model for her and in many of the same ways is for America. Even the child in this show is a great role model because she learns to be proud of who she is with the help of the adults around her and doesn’t try to hide her quirky ways which is a great thing to show America, because no one should ever be ashamed of who they are. Many people see The New Normal’s message to be that the new normal of families in America will be led by a gay couple.
This however, is a misunderstanding. The New Normal’s message is that no matter how untraditional a family is it is still a family with the same amount of love and values as traditional families. In the pilot this was made clear by giving examples of many other untraditional families. It showed a midget woman who married a man of normal height and had a daughter who was 6 years old and almost taller than her mother, a single mom of two twin toddlers who was much older than most new mothers; in fact, she looks old enough to be their grandmother.
They even go as far to mention examples from pop culture today such as Barack Obama and Mariah Carey, who were both raised by what Bryan refers to as “half-rican American” Grandmothers. When the show says “abnormal in the new normal” it is not to say that families led by gay couples in the only new normal but that none of these untraditional families should be seen as anything less than the average traditional family. The New Normal defies stereotypes in many different ways. Although the show does show one of the gay men as a very effeminate male, Bryan.
Which is why I can understand why many people in the gay community show offense as they see this as portrayal of a stereotypical gay men. However Bryan’s character is meant to portray the writer of The New Normal, Ryan Murphy. I think the character is important to show that effeminate males do exists and to show Ryan Murphy’s side of things and how the bigotry of others has affected him. Murphy saw it was important to show his own personal experiences in the show which is why he decided to create a character based on himself.
It is not as if the show portrays all gay men to be effeminate. Bryan’s partner, David, is a gay man who is the average guy’s guy with no interest in fashion, and the many other favored interest of his partner, the “stereotypical gay man. ” David is a doctor who loves to watch football and play sports. While the show does show someone who does fit a stereotype, David’s character defies said stereotype because he is a gay man who this prejudice doesn’t apply to. The show also defies the common stereotype that all black people are content with being bottom feeders of society.
Rocky, Bryan’s assistant, is a very accomplished black woman with very high aspirations and goals. She has come a long way from where she grew up in an impoverished home to become an assistant for a producer of a very famous TV show. She is an example of a much empowered black woman who has worked very hard to be successful. Though The New Normal is just a TV show, it provides a lens through which we can examine the societal problems of bigotry and prejudice. Indeed, many problems such as the way people throughout the show treat David and Bryan as if they are less than their equal in the show can be seen in real life.
For example, many people in America today have shown their disapproval of homosexuals by not only denying them adoption and marriage equality but by going as far as committing hate crimes against them. But the prejudice in the show and in real life doesn’t stop there; it is directed at anyone who is different by race, sexuality, living conditions, and plenty of others thing. The point of this show is to show people that we are all humans with flaws and great qualities and that everyone should be treated equally. We do live in the land of the free after all.