So NBC has premiered a sitcom called The New Normal about a gay couple trying to become parents via a surrogate mother. America continues to take a ridiculous amount of time deciding what it thinks of marriage equality for gay people, so any laugh-laced network propaganda that will help speed that forward is laudable, right? Sure, I’m on board. And the fact that one of the leads is played by an openly gay actor –– Andrew Rannells, so terrific in Lena Dunham’s HBO show Girls –– is a big plus. So far, so good.

And then Rannells sashays onto the small screen, threatening to set the other Normal characters on fire with his Mariah Carey-loving shopaholic, a tiresome quipster who says things like: “I don’t intend to age. It’s so…expected.” So why does he want a baby? He spots another customer’s child in a high-end retail shop and decides he has to have one. And what is his wardrobe of choice? Capri pants.

Maybe I’m jealous because my calf muscles aren’t in such great shape, but the capri pants killed my interest in The New Normal early on. It’s not like the show’s producers had to sprain their backs subverting a stereotype and make Rannells into a Toby Keith-loving NASCAR fan (though that could be interesting). But gay visibility is now wide and deep enough that we need something more than another sharp-tongued TV queen in prime time. Rannells is playing a gay variation on the old racist Steppin Fetchit type. Call him “Lisp‘n Swishit,” if you want, but please, let’s retire him for a while.

Knockouts 300x250 Lydia

Capri pants? Seriously?


  1. First of all, one episode is too soon to write off a new series, especially one that has been receiving decent reviews. Secondly, the show was co-created by Ryan Murphy, whose films (“Running With Scissors”) and other TV shows (“Glee”) have included gay characters of various stripes. Our view of this show should be informed by those.