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The New Normal Review: Ryan Murphy’s First Sitcom Is Sassy and Sickeningly Sweet

Ryan Murphy is arguably the most talked about showrunner working in TV today. With the debut of his upcoming comedy, The New Normal, just a day away, the pressure is on for Mr. Murphy to deliver his brand of clever social commentary and snappy dialogue in a genre he's never touched before: the sitcom.

Wetpaint Entertainment readers know Murphy best as a creator and writer of Glee, but he’s also the brains behind horror anthology American Horror Story and plastic surgery drama Nip/Tuck. Clearly, Ryan likes to mix things up. So how does The New Normal stack up against his previous efforts? Read on for our full review.

The show opens in California, with Bryan (Andrew Rannells) recording a heartfelt video message to his future child, whom he wishes to raise with his partner, David, played by Justin Bartha.

Elsewhere, in a small town in Ohio, fresh-faced Goldie Clemmons (Georgia King) watches as a gay couple lovingly dotes on their baby. Goldie and her young daughter, Shania, don’t think twice about the new family, but Goldie’s “nana” Jane (expertly played by Ellen Barkin) dismisses the “ass campers” with a flick of her right-wing wrist.

Credit: NBC © NBC Universal, Inc.    

Arriving home, Goldie walks in on her boyfriend having sex with another woman, and now she has all the motivation she needs for a major life-change. So she takes her daughter, steals her nana's car, and impulsively heads across the country to California.

As can be expected, it’s only a matter of time before a cash-strapped Goldie meets surrogate-seeking Bryan and David, and the plot takes off from there.

While there's nary a singing teenager or scary mansion to be found, Murphy's trademark voice is easily identifiable. Nana — a harsher Sue Sylvester clad exclusively in Hillary Clinton-esque pantsuits — gets some of Murphy and Co.’s best zingers (“I feel like i just ate a black and gay stew,” she yells at one point) but at times the dialogue is sickeningly sweet. For all of the fun, witty one-liners, there are eye-roll-inducing sound bites, like when Goldie muses, “ A family is a family, and love is love.”

Still, there is plenty to like about The New Normal. Nana may be an instant fan favorite, but the dynamic between Bryan and David — who many have said are much like Glee’s Kurt and Blaine in 15 years — is not to be missed. Sure, the plot may be predictable at times, but we’re willing to follow Normal's cast of unique, kind-hearted characters as they form a new kind of TV family — baby or not.

What It’s Like: The snarky, quick-witted dialogue of Glee meets the warmth of Modern Family.
When It’s On: Premieres Tuesday, September 11 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC, with a special sneak peek September 10 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The premiere episode is also available now on Hulu.
Show Creator: Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story, Nip/Tuck)
Stars: Justin Bartha, Andrew Rannells, Georgia King, Ellen Barkin, NeNe Leakes

09.10.2012 / 10:09 PM EDT by Samantha Leffler
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