If "The New Normal" is rejected by audiences, it won't be because of its taboo subject matter.
The half-hour comedy — about a gay male couple wanting to having a baby via a surrogate mother — may be slightly brave (though "Will & Grace" covered this years ago), but the series itself is, dare it be said, hackneyed.
Leads Andrew Rannell ("Book of Mormon") as the flighty Bryan and Justin Bartha playing the level-headed David have absolutely no chemistry for a couple who is supposed to be in love so earnestly that they want to have a child of their own.
Instead, David spends a great deal of the opening episode (10 p.m. today, WBIR, Channel 10) talking to Bryan as a brainless child — and rightfully so. Bryan is weak and empty headed, seeing a baby as a fashion accessory rather than a responsibility.
Rannell is so over the top in his performance, straining to be a homage of Sean Hayes's Jack from "Will & Grace" that you'll be tempted to either slap your viewing device or change the channel altogether. His contribution is annoying and ridiculous.
David, who is channeling Eric McCormack's Will from "Will & Grace," is the opposite. It's hard to believe David would find any connection with Bryan. In fact, David has far truer connection with surrogate Goldie (Georgia King) than his partner.
"Normal" uses "All In The Family" as its template as a social tackling agenda. That's reaching far to high for this mess.
On the plus side, Ellen Barkin, as Goldie's bigoted-and-proud-of-it mother, is a hoot and the show's saving grace as a scene stealer.
Reality star NeNe Leakes is surprisingly, even shockingly, good as David's brassy assistant.
And there's nothing normal about that at all.
Score: 2 stars (out of five)
Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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