‘The New Normal’: Daddies dearest

Hank Stuever
TV critic September 13, 2012

Airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on NBC

Ryan Murphy’s relentlessly strong (and even hyperactive) instinct for TV concepts and characters is always a pleasure to watch at the start — think of those initial episodes of “Glee,” “American Horror Story” and “Nip/Tuck.” Then, soon enough, some viewers tend to peel off from his shows until only diehard fans remain. (Raise your hand if you’re still willing to admit to being a Gleek.)

Hank Stuever has been The Post's TV critic since 2009. He joined the paper in 1999 as a writer for the Style section, where he has covered an array of popular (and unpopular) culture across the nation. View Archive

Murphy’s “The New Normal,” which premiered last week, is an ensemble comedy about a male couple, David and Bryan (“The Hangover’s” lost groom Justin Bartha and Broadway’s “Book of Mormon” star Andrew Rannells), who hire a down-on-her-luck, single-mom surrogate to carry their baby. It’s an idea whose time should have come a while back. Bartha and Rannells’s characters display yin/yang neuroses that keep their characters interesting, but as Goldie, the would-be surrogate, Georgia King is unfortunately bland.

Ellen Barkin saves the day with a deliciously acid standout performance as Goldie’s disapproving grandmother, Jane, who comes on like a cruel hybrid of conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly and “Absolutely Fabulous’s” Patsy Stone (with Calista Gingrich’s hairdo). Jane is a classic Ryan Murphy invention, giving show a fresh twist without feeling too much like another item on the gay agenda.

Grade: B+

More on “The New Normal”: Two different ways at going gay

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