The pilot’s been posted online for a while now, but I finally sat down and watched this show. If you’re looking for a plot rollercoaster that makes pit stops for Gwyneth Paltrow cameos and is driven by a mother who’s a child, a child who’s a woman, and gay guys; this show is for you!
I was definitely excited to see Ellen Barkin’s first TV series role. However, I was perhaps even more excited about Justin Bartha’s return to TV since his failed sitcom Teachers in 2006, which I faithfully watched based on my love for him as Riley in National Treasure. I may have just revealed too much about myself. Andrew Rannells is also hot off his Book of Mormon success, so overall the show’s got a good foundation in its casting.
Now, onto the plot.
I’m gonna say up front that this review will probably be confusing to read, because I’m confused writing it…I don’t even know where to begin. SO many bizarre incidents and exposition happened in this episode, I’m not even sure what I just watched. I hate to just talk through the plot points of the episode and spoil it, but for my own sake, I have to discuss it.
This episode serves to show the audience the back story of how surrogate mom, Goldie (Georgia King), meets up with partners and future parents David (Bartha) and Bryan (Rannells). The first time we see Goldie, she’s in the car with her grandmother Jane (Barkin) and daughter Shania (Bebe Wood). Goldie has to run back to her house (that she literally just left), only to find Her Man (my only description, because his relation to her is not made clear for a while) in bed with a girl. When she gets back in the car to say what happened, Jane storms in to tell off Clay (Her Man), who has apparently been with Goldie for nine years. Goldie turns to Shania, says she wants to start a new life, and the two take off. Stranding Jane at the house. While they spontaneously drive from Ohio…TO LOS ANGELES. WHAT. My head exploded.
LA is where Goldie signs up with a surrogate agency and gets hooked up with David and Bryan. If you’re wondering what happened to Ellen Barkin, she shows up at the right hospital literally at the exact time that Goldie’s eggs are getting fertilized. I guess she just hopped in a car and drove from Ohio, too (which Google Maps tells me it’s just, you know, a mere 36-hour drive). Also during this process, Goldie mentions her “soon-to-be-ex-husband,” who we can only assume is Her Man, Clay. I would have never picked up that the two were married—when Goldie found him with the other girl, she basically just looked like a hurt 14-year-old that catches her crush kissing another girl on the playground, not a woman who just caught her husband cheating on her. I eventually realized that this, and other instances like Jane calling Goldie a spoiled child, are to reinforce the idea that Goldie is, in fact, a child playing grown-up. I can tell this is going to be a theme of the show. …But so if Clay is her husband, is he Shania’s father? And if he’s Shania’s father, did Shania have ZERO feelings about hopping in a car and driving cross-country and leaving her father behind?? Because from her response to Jane and Goldie’s conversation, I didn’t know if she even knew who Clay was. Does Clay not care his wife and daughter just moved cross-country, either?? Sorry, I just need time to get over all of this. (P.S. IMDb does list Clay and Shania as having the same last names, so I guess he is her father).
The show definitely exhibits some Ryan Murphy (the show’s creator) trademarks. Jane, while hilarious, is basically Jane Lynch’s character from Glee, and the extended bizarre back story for Goldie is certainly reminiscent of Glee‘s frenzied storylines. Oh, and NeNe Leakes hops cameos from being Glee‘s synchronized swim coach to being Bryan’s assistant on this show, which I am 100% on board for. The episode seemed to focus too much on characteristics we can easily pick up on (we get it, Jane is offensive to everyone), and not enough time on elements that truly are important to the story (seriously, we need to get to the bottom of this paternity issue and how Shania is dealing with having a child-mother and cheater-father. I am overly concerned).
This is probably giving you the impression that I hated this show, but actually…I really liked it. Despite all of the bizarre antics, I really liked the characters and that’s what I’ll continue to tune in for. I’m a little annoyed by Goldie (especially that her name is Goldie), but Jane is hilarious, Bryan and David are great (I do need more Justin Bartha, though) and I can already tell Shania is going to be the real stand-out of the show. Do I even need to say NeNe was great? She was great. I’ll chalk the crazy plot up to being a curse of the pilot episode, and I think the future episodes will be much better. Based on this preview alone, I obviously need to watch the second episode ASAP.
Watch new episodes of The New Normal on Tuesdays on NBC at 9:30/8:30c. Next week’s episode on September 18 is a new episode entitled “Baby Clothes.”
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