I am an advocate for more LGBT appearances in the media. Like any civil rights movement before, more media attention (especially that of TV sitcoms) of the LGBT community will eventually generate an understanding, and potentially lessen and/or mask homophobic attitudes in society. The only reason I have respect for Carly Rae Jepsen and her ridiculously catchy summer hit, “Call Me Maybe,” is for the music video’s ending. She had a crush on a gay man! Joke’s on her! But even though Carly doesn’t get the guy, the realistic conclusion shows the pop singer in a mature light and represents the gay man in a non-stereotyped fashion. In both cases, this comical ending is important – it reaches millions and brings positive awareness to the gay community, and of course Carly’s career. As for The New Normal, I can’t and wouldn’t say the same.
This show has the best of intentions, and I have tried giving it a fair shot, but I’m afraid the damage here is done. After three episodes, the characters are set and drenching in stereotypes: the bigoted, racist, wealthy white grandma; the blonde high school drop-out; the drop-out’s misfit and misguided daughter; the wealthy, gay, gym membership-holder, football-loving doctor; the black female secretary who spends her boss’ money frivolously;and the doctor’s partner, the flamboyant, musical theatre-quoting, “my-baby-is-an-accessory,” jobless gay man, aka “the housewife”. This show should upset the gay and black community. If it doesn’t, it at least upsets me and Frank Bua who wrote this article for out.com.
On the most recent episode, episode 3, the gay couple kissed in public. A vocal homophobe attacked them pubically in front of his child saying it was inappropriate to show PDA, especially in a kid’s store. This is a subject I’m proud The New Normal writers hit on, but they ruined it. Like Bua, I am must proudly acknowledge this show’s nonchalant approach to gay PDA. Unlike Modern Family, this gay couple shows affection regularly. This is progressive and beneficial for the community. Unfortunately, the show stops there. In the privacy of his home, Bryan (the flamboyant gay) expresses his fears of bringing a child into the world of a society that treats gays like the man in the store. A serious, heartfelt conversation with his partner is broken when he stops to make a comment about the baby clothes in the store. It’s a sitcom, so to an extent comedic situations are necessary, but not at the expense of the gay community’s progression in a homophobic society.
This show has a great platform and terrific potential to change the views of the American public on gay families, but if it’s writers don’t cut back on the stereotypes, the gay community will only suffer- continuing to fit into this cookie-cutter, cartoonish idea of what it means to be “gay”. Also, I want to point out there is no comparison between Modern Family and The New Normal. Modern Family writers have well-rounded characters, and make it a point to not fit their gay couple into the flamboyant or masculine stereotype. While Cam loves musical theatre, he is the one that enjoys football and the outdoors. Unlike Bryan, Cam would never talk about his children in terms of this season’s fall fashions. There’s a fluidity in Cam and Mitchell’s relationship that balances masculine-femenine qualities amongst them evenly. The same is not true for The New Normal’s David and Bryan. The contrast is black and white. For this, I fear this show will only cause those against gay adoption/surrogation, etc to say, “See, I told you so.”