Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Is Middle America Ready for a TV Show About Two Gay Guys and Their Surrogate?

As the gay-marriage debate rages on in the U.S. (sigh), here's something else to vote on: Should two wealthy gay men in L.A. be allowed to hire a surrogate to carry their egg donor's baby? Yes -- they already can? Okay, well here's another one: Does the scenario have enough potential humor to carry a weekly comedy series?

NBC would no doubt vote yes on that one, and surely the network will be hoping we'll find humor in it for seasons to come when The New Normal, its new comedy from Glee creator Ryan Murphy about a gay couple in L.A. (Justin Bartha and Andrew Rannells) and their surrogate mother (Georgia King) -- or more accurately, judging from the trailer, a surrogate mom and her gay couple -- begins airing on Tuesdays at 9.30pm ET in the fall.

I didn't laugh once during the 3:44 duration of the trailer, but that's possibly because I was too busy thinking, "How cute is Justin Bartha?", while cringing at all of the stereotypes (note to Hollywood: Enough with the sassy black woman!), and wondering what the red states will think. If the majority that rules in North Carolina can't handle gay marriage, how will they react to gay parenthood? Probably about as well as Ellen Barkin (playing the mother of the surrogate), but liberal viewers will switch the channel if it is as unfunny as the trailer leads me to fear it might be.

While it's always good to see gay characters on TV, and surrogacy is a topic that's more than ready for prime time (though I always envisioned it more as an hour-long drama, if not a play, or a feature film), I'm not sure how I feel about creating another series featuring two gay men and then tossing a woman into their center stage. I've already sat through eight seasons of Will & Grace.

Judging from the trailer, this show about two guys and a girl seems to be mostly about the girl, which I won't gripe too much about if it means I have the option of seeing Barkin on a weekly basis. But I'm already dreading several seasons of chaste pecks on the cheek between the male leads (one flaming, one not, as all gay TV duos -- from Will and Jack to Kurt and Blaine on Glee -- are apparently Constitutionally required to be), and their accessories-to-the-female-lead status similar to that gay couple on Desperate Housewives.

Justin Bartha, so adorable and already so underused in The Hangover Part II, deserves more, and so do we. I hope we all get it.

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