Okay, which one of you jokers decided it would be a good idea to give Ryan Murphy another television series? Haven’t we learned anything about the results of positive reinforcement? Keep doing it, and he’s going to think this kind of behavior is acceptable.
So, okay, I understand intellectually why he’s been given a new series: it’s because Glee is getting strong ratings and a ton of positive attention, and thus any network worth its salt is going to seriously consider project proposals from him. NBC decided to take the bait to spice things up a bit with The New Normal, which appears to be what happens if Ryan Murphy watches Modern Family right before going to bed.
“See, I could totally do that too” is the unofficial tagline of The New Normal.
I love this knob-slobbering description of the upfront presentation:
Even though those are NBC’s cornerstone comedies for the new year, they’re emotional, progressive and heartwarming. Salke and NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt and could’ve harped on the progressiveness and acceptance of their new shows, but they didn’t — they just focused on the fact that they think they’re well-written and funny.
Right, so NBC gets to ride on progressive laurels without actually saying it’s making a progressive show. So when (not if, this is Ryan Murphy, people) people start criticizing the show on the grounds that it has some seriously massive holes when it comes to treatment of the characters and the subject, NBC can go “well, we were just making a comedy.”
They’re clearly learned a lesson from Glee, which has rightly been savagely attacked for claiming to be a progressive and “inspirational” show, yet having a boggling number of incredibly offensive storylines. This time, Ryan Murphy can say he’s just focusing on the funny. You know, in a show that happens to be positioning itself as progressive and, uh, heartwarming.
Having been bitten thoroughly by Ryan Murphy, I am not only twice shy, but forever shy. Especially given his disdain for critics from the communities he so thoughtlessly and casually exploits. As Alyssa’s recently noted, Glee has really taken a turn for the worse when it comes to all those oh-so-progressive storylines; she argued for dropping the show altogether from your viewing habits because it’s gotten so vile. It’s an argument I’ve been making for years.
Glee has historically been viewed by a lot of fans as strong on queer storylines, something I’m not totally sold on myself, and that makes me raise an eyebrow over the promises that The New Normal will be amazing because it’s queer-focused. On Glee, I have some problems with the handling of Kurt, I’m uncomfortable about the rape scene between Kurt and Blaine and how it was handled, and Murphy’s record on bisexuality is pretty appalling. Like, the fact that he set up an entire episode to question whether bisexuality is real. Just, you know, for starters.
So forgive me if I’m not peeing my pants over The New Normal, because I have my doubts about how well the story will be handled, even though it’s featuring gay characters. Because they’re something Murphy is a bit of an expert on and still manages to fuck up royally on a regular basis. The leads are living the middle class white gay male dream, positioning a very specific kind of family and life as “the new normal.” Notably, it’s the safest and most mundane type of unconventional family; two people in a devoted long term relationship who are clearly financially stable and want to have a baby.
Way to go out on a limb for the team there, Ryan.
And, of course, surrogacy is an issue with tremendous legal, social, and ethical implications, a lot of which are being heatedly discussed in the public forum right now because people aren’t sure where it fits into the social framework. This is all very new stuff. Are we sure we trust Ryan Murphy with it?
Right in the preview, surrogacy is compared to “being an Easy Bake Oven,” an indicator of the contempt Murphy and the writing team apparently have for women’s bodies. The followup says the surrogate has “no rights to the cupcake.” You’re killing me, Ryan.
A neat, dismissive, and contemptuous handling of surrogacy. This is a show that is supposed to revolve around the relationship between the two men and the woman who carries their child, but I have my doubts about the progressiveness and sensitivity of the handling, given Murphy’s record. The need to make juvenile jokes about it in the preview speaks poorly of the show’s prospects.
NBC is trying to have its cake and eat it too here with a potentially controversial and “edgy” show cast as a comedy (like Glee) in an attempt to avoid responsibility for the content. Will viewers let them get away with it, or will they be more alert to Murphy’s tricks this time around?