Smart is the New Norm
By Flavia Francesquini
For as long as we have lived in society we have tried to little avail to define Normal. What is and is not considered “the norm” varies immensely depending on who you ask. I went to school with a girl named Daisy. Her younger sister was also named Daisy and neither answered by a nickname because they thought that two siblings having the same name was normal. The family who lived next door to my first home ate dinner sitting on beach chairs that they neatly lined up on their front lawn. For them, watching the street as they chowed on steaks was normal. There are couples on reality TV shows giving birth to their twentieth child, a fact they all seem to consider normal. When I decided to become a lesbian mom with the help of a friendly donor, folks didn’t measure words to let me know that my arrangement was not normal.
It seems that as long as we are all doing, feeling, saying and thinking the exact same thing we are alright. The problem with that starts with the fact that we can barely get our own friends to agree on what to order for dinner or what movie to watch after it. How can we possibly come up with a reasonable consensus of normalcy that appeases the masses? I’ll give you a second to ponder about this. Yep. It’s hard. But here’s a noble idea, how about we try to accept the theory that people who don’t live, look, think or act like us are also normal?
The concept of normalcy and its ripple impact in society, but also in individual lives, has been brought to light by the brilliant Ryan Murphy. If you are familiar with his work you know that pushing the envelope is what he does best. Murphy has brought us Glee, Nip/Tuck and the awesome American Horror Story. This award winning film and television screenwriter, director, and producer has made no secrets about his own sexuality and in fact, his recent wedding to long time partner David Miller has some people speculating if his newest project is loosely based on personal experiences. To those waiting to see what else Murphy would bring to our living rooms, don’t miss the premiere of The New Normal.
The New Normal premieres on NBC Tuesday, September 11th and its cast is impressive. Hunky Justin Bartha (who almost didn’t get married in The Hangover), and the adorable Andrew Rannells (who has awed Broadway audiences in The Book of Mormon), are a loving couple with one desire, to start a family. In comes Georgia King (the thoughtful Rosamond of Jane Eyre), a young mom from a Midwestern town trying her luck in Los Angeles. Georgia agrees to become their surrogate but her own mother, the legendary Ellen Barkin has her own views of right, wrong, and most importantly, normal. As their lives become irreversibly intertwined, they deal with the ups, downs and simply funny ways in which a group of people can become a family.
To help bring these characters to life Murphy has enlisted Ali Adler as one of the writers and executive producers for the show. Adler, who has two children with actress Sara Gilbert, can certainly draw from her own experience as a lesbian mom, and I hope she will. The show will not go on air without a certain amount of controversy. Since we still have a long road before we all arrive at my proposed philosophy of life – you know, where we all accept each other as normal – some folks are up in arms over the concept of two loving adults raising a child.
First an NBC Utah affiliate has refused to air the show due to its contents! The station, KSL, is surprisingly owned by the Latter-day Saints church, and I do hope you catch the sarcasm here. Then One Million Moms decided to boycott it, claiming it was “harmful to our society.” It’s too bad they won’t be able to see one of their very own represented on the show. Ellen Barkin’s hilariously bigoted character is a member of the Million Moms. If for nothing else, watch it to see Barkin’s performance!
Perhaps a little controversy is the added bonus to this very funny show. Perhaps talking about surrogacy, adoption, and the impact of bigotry and homophobia on our families will help demystify some of the fears and misconceptions surrounding LGBTQ families.
The roads we take to form a family are diverse, and sometimes complicated, but they should all lead to the same destination, a loving home. The New Normal is a refreshing and very funny way of taking a close look at what happens when love takes the lead and ignorance ends up left in the dust.
Flavia Francesquini is a regular contributor and Assistant Editor for Gay Parent magazine.