From the Culture Room: The New Normal

Before it started, the adverts provided us with a promising start to the brand new program. From the beginning of the first show, the audience was presented with the opposite. The main characters seemed to be stock characters with a lot of room for development, but were not fulfilled for quite some time: there are the TV typical gay couple comprised of one flouncing gay and one masculine gay; a totally homophobic and unrelenting Republican older woman; a black woman who is almost totally sarcastic; and the somewhat ditzy blonde with high ambitions. The initially weak storylines coupled with a number of characteristics plucked from other comedies did not live up to expectations created, nor was it living up to the standard others from the US had set.

However, in the last few episodes, there seems to have been a complete turn around. It could most definitely be said that the teething problems that were initially offered have definitely been resolved. Whilst the flamboyant character is still (almost offensively) flamboyant, and the headstrong traditionalist is still just as backwards, we are provided with a very different and more accurate presentation of the modern child. With children having access to Internet and intelligence rewarded, I totally agree with the wise depiction of Shania. She possesses the street smarts and maturity required by youngsters of a contemporary society, and yet has a sense of childish innocence and hope, which balances her character to make her realistic.

In addition, Bryan’s character has developed to beyond the realm of the gay stock character. Whilst somewhat feminine, the show has managed to use this to their advantage. After the initial few episodes, he has proven himself to go beyond the simplicity of Jack Macfarlane (from Will and Grace), being both well dressed and well educated, whilst he is in a similar profession. He is able to function well within the home as he cooks and pushes against the assumption of being a motherly figure to the upcoming child. I have found Bryan has become somewhat more representative of the fragment of the gay community I find myself to be part of.

His partner, David, is into sports and seems to be the bread earner. This juxtaposition initially was very polarised and not completely believable. Yet, he too has changed into a more plausible and balanced character. In addition, there doesn’t seem to be the underlying sense of self-loathing through the use of derogatory comments and homophobic jokes presented in other shows of a similar nature.

All in all, I would recommend the program to anyone who enjoys a laugh, without too much of a story line or a linear timeline through the show. The character development is interesting and done well, but this would only be evident by watching early episodes: a feat I wouldn’t advise.


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