Fall TV Preview: The New Normal

Ellen Barkin, Justin Bartha, Andrew Rannells and Georgia King in The New Normal.
Ellen Barkin, Justin Bartha, Andrew Rannells and Georgia King in The New Normal. (Photo by NBC)

(I’m still swamped with TIFF, so regular blogging won’t resume until the end of the week. Be sure to check out @jen_mcdonnell and MSN.ca for all my TIFF updates. Tonight I’m checking out Rachel McAdams in Passion, and tomorrow I get to watch/swoon over Aaron Paul in Smashed. He’s been spotted at the DJ booth at the Soho House. Sigh.

In the meantime, my BFF Nicole and I have been IM’ing about the five buzziest fall TV shows. Check out our previous posts on ElementaryThe Mindy Project and Last Resort. Today’s target: The New Normal!)

Premieres: Sept. 11 @ 9:30 p.m. on NBC and CTV

Up Against: NCIS: Los Angeles, The Mindy Project, Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23, Emily Owens M.D.

Premise: In Glee creator Ryan Murphy’s new show, a gay couple (Justin Bartha and Andrew Rannells) hire a surrogate (Georgia King) to have their baby. But by inviting the woman into their lives, they’re also welcoming her 8-year-old daughter and her homophobic, racist grandmother (played brilliantly by Ellen Barkin). Nene Leakes from The Real Housewives of Atlanta rounds out the cast as Bartha’s assistant.

Our Take:

Nicole: This one’s a question mark for me so far, but there is some promise. I’m just not sure I can admit to watching a show with Nene.
Jen: I know!
Nicole: Love Ellen Barkin, though.
Jen: Ellen Barkin as the hateful grandmother kills me. So good!
Nicole: I kinda feel like they ripped off the Modern Family template for this one. It might be too similar in terms of the chemistry.
Jen: Yes, you just know NBC was like “We need our own version of Modern Family. Let’s just amp up the gayness!” But the cast is good, even if the characters are a little stereotypical.
Nicole: Yeah! I wish we had Will and Grace back.
Jen: Indeed. Right now, the only thing that is keeping me tuning in for episode 2 is Ellen Barkin’s amazing one-liners.
Nicole: I’m actually not sure about each of the families. I don’t know if I’m going to like them as much as I like the Modern Family version. They have to be likeable, you know?
Jen: Well, the good news is that Modern Family nose-dived in quality last season, so they’re no longer hard to top.
Nicole: All we need is one sharp episode. That’s how we got roped into Cougar Town, remember? We saw the “single ladies” episode and just kept tuning in.
Jen: That’s true. Though that might have been because we related to that episode a bit too much. 😉
Nicole: If they keep Ellen Barkin’s writing sharp, there’s a chance this show will work.
Jen: My fave Ellen Barkin line (so far): “I thought your mother was a fibroid tumor, and by the time I figured it out she had a face and I was screwed.”
Nicole: Ha!
Jen: I tend to give comedies more time to find their rhythm. It took me two whole seasons to not hate Parks and Recreation, and now that show is total perfection. I wasn’t immediately sold on Community or New Girl either.
Nicole: Oh man, Parks is the best comedy on TV and I skipped a whole season before it got good. So I’m not sure about The New Normal, but I’ll give them a few episodes to settle in.

Jen McDonnell is an entertainment freelancer and social media specialist. She put her celeb stalking skills to good use as managing editor of www.dose.ca. Likes: pop culture, celebrity dirt, guilty pleasure TV, George Clooney, cheese. Dislikes: people who use 'begs the question' incorrectly. Follow Jen on Twitter @jen_mcdonnell. Follow Jen

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