I was casting around, looking for something to watch today, and I ended up face to face with the pilot for The New Normal, NBC’s brand-new fuck you to Modern Family.
I had known this show was going to be problematic ever since I saw the first ad:
I said I would buy the first person to correctly identify the plot of the show based on this picture alone coffee. And while I didn’t end up buying anyone coffee, my best friend’s observation more or less sums it up:
abercrombie statues with big gay erections, big gay stepford wives and a wutchu talkin bout willis reality ‘star’ kidnap children from appalachia to sonoma to build big gay family cult in unincorporated juarez, leaving a trail of blood and heartbreak across america
In reality, the premise of the show is that a successful white gay couple wants a baby, finds a surrogate with a sassy homophobic/racist grandmother, and has a sassy black assistant who sasses sassily.
Let’s just get down to it.
IS IT REALLY TWO THOUSAND AND FUCKING TWELVE AND I HAVE TO POINT OUT THE ONLY PERSON OF COLOR ON YOUR SHOW IS A SASSY BLACK ASSISTANT.
IS IT REALLY?
I’m done with all caps now.
NeNe Leakes delivers a great performance on your show. So why don’t you give her some more air time? Why are her only lines about stealing from her white boss or interacting with the racist grandma? (Although admittedly, her smackdown of racist grandma was probably the best part of the show.)
In fact, I’d probably watch a show about NeNe Leakes and racist grandma. I’ll never understand the sitcom formula of having the only funny/compelling people be supporting roles.
Moving on in my notes, we come to “vapid femme/grounded butch.”
So tired of this one. So tired I don’t even want to talk about it. Nexus of homophobia and misogyny, etc, etc. It’s not like there aren’t flighty femmes and grounded butches who find each other and make happy lives, but ohmysweetjesus does this representation need an overhaul. Love, my grounded femme drag queen ass.
Speaking of things that need to be overhauled, how about gay men getting away with saying UTTERLY MISOGYNISTIC CRAP on TV? You really won’t want to see the adoption agency rep. It’s cringe-worthy. Oh, and let’s not forget the fatphobic gag that continues into the next act. (“100 pounds down!” Click. Ugh.)
Oh, what was that, a joke about how scary vaginas look to you? Oh, ok, fuck you, too.
There was probably one funny joke about the appearance of vaginas. It was probably made in like 1945, NOW MOVE THE FUCK ON. Also, if you want to rent someone’s uterus for nine months but can’t bear the thought of seeing a vagina for 5 seconds, you probably aren’t ready to have a child. Just sayin’.
Also, PS, amputee joke?
I’m going to end where I probably should have started with The New Normal.
It’s really nifty that there are places where rich gay white people having babies via surrogate is “the new normal.”
But it’s not the new normal in most places. In most places, it’s very strange, and in a lot of those places, it’s also illegal.
Also, not all gay parents are wildly (mysteriously?) successful and/or white. And while we’re at it, not all gay people are wildly (mysteriously?) successful and white.
And not all gay men are misogynists who only hang out with PoC who work for them.
And this wouldn’t necessarily be a huge thing if this weren’t the preponderance of representations of gay (white) people on TV. And I put white in parentheses because white is the default assumption of gay people on TV.
Here’s the thing: I’m just not entirely sure we need more TV shows about the kind of white people who have the kind of jobs that provide them with ridiculous sums of money for almost no work.
I realize the fact that I feel comfortable criticizing a show about a gay couple – the first show about a gay couple on national TV, methinks – means that things have come a long way in recent television history.
But I don’t think there’s any more reason for a show about gay people to have to make up for it by being at least implicitly classist, racist and sexist.
Just stop sucking, TV. Just stop sucking.
And PS, I totally meant that thing about giving NeNe Leakes more airtime.