2012 Fall TV Preview: THE NEW NORMAL

You’ve seen the commercials. You’ve heard the hype. Now there’s only one thing you want to know: Which of the new fall shows are worth watching and which should be avoided at all costs? In this continuing series, we give you the scoop on some of the most highly-anticipated shows of the season, with today’s subject being NBC’s THE NEW NORMAL.

The Boilerplate: Since these pilot presentations may go through numerous rewrites and casting changes prior to premiere, this by no means should be considered an official review. Rather a preview of what one can expect come Fall.

The Plot: Convinced that a baby is the one thing missing from their fabulous life, Beverly Hills couple Bryan (Andrew Rannells) and David (Justin Bartha) enlist the help of a surrogate in an effort to make their dream a reality. Enter Goldie (Georgia King), a midwestern waitress and single mom looking to escape her dead-end life and small-minded grandmother (Ellen Barkin).

The Cast: THE NEW NORMAL stars Andrew Rannells (Broadway’s Book of Mormon) as Bryan, Justin Bartha (The Hangover) as David, Georgia King as Goldie, Bebe Wood as Shania, Ellen Barkin as Jane and NeNe Leakes (GLEE) as Rocky.

The Snap Judgment: If the success of GLEE and NIP/TUCK has illustrated anything, it’s that Ryan Murphy has knack for tapping into culture conversations du jour and THE NEW NORMAL is no exception. Like WILL & GRACE and MODERN FAMILY before it, Murphy alongside co-creator Ali Adler (CHUCK, NO ORDINARY FAMILY) do a wonderful job of couching what Ellen Barkin’s character inappropriately characterizes as “the gay elephant in the room” with both humor and heart. Also helping their cause is yet another fantastic ensemble featuring the likes of Justin Bartha (“He’s a gaynaecologist!“) and the Book of Mormon’s Andrew Rannells as a pair of hopeful gay dads, relative unknown Georgia King as their hopeful surrogate (“I want to be lawyer and independent woman who doesn’t need a man and wear those expensive suits like in THE GOOD WIFE but without the disgraced husband!”) and grandmother Jane played by Ellen Barkin. That latter of whom’s performance will have audiences and Emmy voters asking “Jane Lynch who?” thanks to her pitch perfect delivery of a seemingly endless array of biting one liners. Case in point, her not-so PC take on Asians, “Your people are so good with computers, and thanks for building the railways,” and gays, “What are you doing helping these salami smokers?”

The Conclusion: Since the purpose of our “Fall TV Previews” are to comment on a show’s on-screen versus off-screen potential — we’re going to go ahead and ignore the fairly sizeable questions surrounding NBC’s ability to attract an audience to a show that is sure to court controversy for all the wrong reason and co-creator Ryan Murphy penchant for developing fantastic pilots that quickly fizzle out (cough*GLEE*cough) — by simply proclaiming THE NEW NORMAL the fall’s funniest half-hour bar none.

THE NEW NORMAL premieres Tuesday September 11th at 9:30PM on NBC (CTV in Canada).

For all the latest TV news and reviews