W H A T I S A W L A S T N I G H T
The New Normal, 31/01/12
I'VE GOT A new favourite on my hate-watching list, soaring past the bloodless Blue Bloods, and even overtaking the delicious train wreck that's Smash.
Hate-watching, for those who haven't heard of this relatively new phenomenon, is taking perverse pleasure in watching bad TV, and then ridiculing it before all and sundry. Smash makes for perfect hate-watching, but now a new candidate has stepped up to the plate: The New Normal.
The New Normal is a schizophrenic mess, a TV show that doesn't seem to know what it actually is (comedy, or drama?), peopled by characters who are just begging to be shoved under a speeding bus, and groaning under the weight of Brady Bunch-style homelies.
Let's start with the gays, mainstream TV's usual sexless stereotypes. Justin Bartha's David is the boring "straight-acting" one (we know this because he's watching sports in the first episode, and we subsequently meet all his straight friends. Oh, and he's a gynaecologist). Andrew Rannells' Bryan is the queeny one (think Jack in that other great [ha!] gay sitcom, Will & Grace). Basically, they're a pair of smug assholes without any redeeming features. At best, David could best be described as pleasant and beige. Bryan is an obnoxious, brainless queen, the one who's usually a supporting character in, say, Will & Grace. Except, Bryan isn't the sidekick, he's the floor-show, and he's "Will's" boyfriend.
|Ellen Barkin as Jane Forrest.|
Then we have the straights. Georgia King plays Goldie, their gormless surrogate, who has the personality of limp lettuce. Despite making apparently heroic, feminist decisions (eventually leaving her no-good husband) she's wet. She's a drip. She's pointless.
Her mother Jane Forrest (Ellen Barkin) is this show's only good point. Racist and homophobic, she strides into scenes spewing vitriol, which drips of the smug, gormless faces of the gays and the surrogate like cold cum. Gee, she's Karen 2.1. It says a lot about The New Normal that you end up rooting for the right-wing Republican.
The most recent episode was a riff on the recent US election; Jane pointed out that the wishy-washy liberal gays - who were set on voting for Obama because, y'know, he's black - didn't even have any black friends. "We don't," they realised, and there followed a hilarious attempt to rope in random black people to masquerade as friends. It was all hugely distasteful, and it begs the question, what's the point of it all? These people are creeps, and racists too, by all accounts. Where are the good guys in this picture?
Preachy, patronising, and only occasionally funny, The New Normal is almost unbearable. It's the embodiment of hate-watching - almost, in fact, as if it were designed for the purpose.