by David-Elijah Nahmod
NBC’s new sitcom The New Normal certainly sounds harmless enough. The series, which debuts on most NBC stations on Tuesday, September 11, is about two people who love each other deciding to start a family. They’re both men — which might be a bit much for KSL TV, Salt Lake City’s NBC affiliate. Salt Lakers will have to wait until Saturday, September 15, when The New Normal will instead be seen on KUCW TV.
KSL spokesperson Tami Ostmark provided QSaltLake with an official statement regarding KSL’s decision. “We did not cancel this show because it features gay characters,” the statement reads. “We have viewed the pilot. This program features sexually explicit content, demeaning dialogue and inciting stereotypes. The dialogue is excessively rude and crude, the scenes are too explicit, and the stereotypes are offensive on all sides.”
KSL, it should be noted, does not air NBC’s long running, often ribald sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live, which also airs on KUCW. Ostmark told QSaltLake that KSL did air Will and Grace for all eight seasons. She also said that the now cancelled NBC soap opera Passions, which featured lesbian and transgender characters, was never made available to the station. They currently air Days of Our Lives, which features two gay characters.
Actor Andrew Rannells, who plays Bryan, one half of New Normal’s gay couple, feels that KSL created an unnecessary controversy.
“It was a shame that the announcement of it came out before anyone got to see any of it,” he said during a telephone press conference. “We were lucky that another station in Salt Lake City decided to air it instead. I don’t think we’re telling a necessarily new story. We’re just showing what’s already happening and what’s already out in the world.”
The New Normal is the creation of openly gay Ryan Murphy, the man behind Nip/Tuck, American Horror Story and Glee, which has been television’s gayest show these past few years. The New Normal was co-created with Glee writer Ali Adler, who’s a lesbian.
The series premise is simple. Gay couple Bryan and David want children. Goldie (Georgia King), a single mom who wants to go back to school, is hired as their surrogate. Over the course of the show’s run, viewers can watch a new family come into being.
“One of the things I love about the title of the show is that it seems so blunt and obvious,” said Justin Bartha, who’s been cast as David. “We still live in a time where there are people who object to showing what most people would consider reality. I actually do hope people are offended by it. Hopefully it will be a conversation piece in families and that families will love it for what it is. Possibly our show can help usher in a little acceptance.”
“It’s a story about creating family,” said Rannells. “And about the love it takes to start a family.”
“It’s a privilege to be doing something that creates conversation and ideas and thoughts,” offered Georgia King. “And to get people thinking about what happens today. It’s very current. There are a lot of situations that a lot of people can relate to. I would like the story to remind people how beautiful, no matter what your family is, how absolutely wonderful and beautiful it is to have family and unity and love. It’s really a very positive story.”
The three stars were asked what they thought of their characters.
“The character isn’t defined by his sexuality,” said Justin Bartha, who’s straight. “None of the characters I’ve played has been defined by their sexuality, and so it really makes no difference to me if the character is gay or straight.”
“I have so much respect for anyone who would be willing to carry a baby and enable a couple to have a family,” was Georgia King’s reply. “That’s one of the most selfless, wonderful things you could do for someone. It’s so generous.”
And would openly gay Andrew Rannells himself want to be a dad? “I haven’t made up my mind concretely about having kids. But I’m happy to practice on TV.”
The New Normal begins airing in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 15, 10 p.m. on CW30.
To watch the pilot episode, go here.