Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.
The Show: The New Normal, NBC, Tuesdays at 9:30/8:30c
The Pedigree: The New Normal was created and written by Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story) and Allison Adler (Chuck, No Ordinary Family, Glee). Murphy directed the pilot.
The Cast & How You Know Them: The central couple is played by Broadway stars Justin Bartha (The Hangover) and Andrew Rannells (Girls). The other stars include Georgia King (Little Dorrit, Chalet Girl), Ellen Barkin (Sea of Love, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), NeNe Leakes (Glee), and relative newcomer Bebe Wood.
The Premise: The New Normal is a comedy about a gay couple who decide to have a baby via surrogate, only to find that their surrogate and her daughter and grandmother themselves become part of their lives and family.
What Works: I was pretty skeptical going into this one, but it wound up completely charming me. The central couple completely won me over with their desire for a baby, and the surrogate’s story was also surprisingly complex and appealing. The acting and comedic timing was all solid. The child character didn’t annoy me the way many kids on comedies do. And this was the second comedy pilot this season that made me tear up at the end. (The other was Go On.)
What Doesn’t: A lot of the characterization and humor here is very close to tipping over the line from “genuine and funny” to so broadly stereotypical that the characters no longer feel like people. That doesn’t quite happen in the pilot, but I’m concerned about it going forward. And, frankly, just the fact that this is a Ryan Murphy show makes me hold back from giving it my full affection, because I loved the first half-season of Glee and then thought the show completely lost it. So. We’ll see.
Our Favorite Line: “How do you know what rubella is?” “Little House on the Prairie.”
You Might Like This if you like quirky family comedies or heartwarming stories of very different people coming together to help each other achieve their dreams.
If You’re Interested: You can watch the full pilot embedded above or tonight on NBC at 10/9c. The regular season starts with a new episode tomorrow in the show’s normal timeslot of Tuesdays at 9:30/8:30c.
(Photo courtesy of NBC.)