'The New Normal' review: Hilarious and heartwarming comedy
For starters, the Tuesday-night series (which NBC is previewing tonight, Sept. 10) introduces two more gay parents to the prime-time television landscape. Like "Modern Family's" Cameron and Mitchell, Bryan ("The Book of Mormon's" Andrew Rannells) and David ( Justin Bartha ) are committed partners ready for fatherhood.
Unlike Cam and Mitch, Bryan and David choose surrogacy over adoption, and after a few hiccups (including a hilarious cameo by Gwyneth Paltrow), finally meet an ideal candidate: Goldie. Played to exquisite perfection by Georgia King, Goldie, her precocious daughter Shania ( Bebe Wood) and even her crude, bigoted grandmother Jane ( Ellen Barkin) form a unique family bond with the fathers-to-be. That includes Bryan's loud-mouth assistant, Rocky ("Real Housewives" star NeNe Leakes, in her second acting gig after guesting on Murphy's "Glee").
The tone of "The New Normal" is more like "Arrested Development" than "Modern Family," so it remains to be seen whether it can attract the huge viewership of the ABC hit. But if the pilot's rough edges are smoothed out, and Murphy remains to true to his characters rather than capriciously altering their personalities like so much of "Glee," this heartwarming show just might become the sitcom success NBC so desperately needs.
"The New Normal" airs on NBC tonight at 10 p.m. and tomorrow, in its normal time slot, at 9:30 p.m. following "Go On."