Recap and review of The New Normal – Season 1 Episode 12 – Winter Premiere – The Goldie Rush
Hey guys, Nick Roman here. I’ll be taking over from Amy as The New Normal recapper for the forseeable future. It took me a moment to get caught up, but I found that most of my reservations that I had about the pilot are hardly in evidence, now that the show has found a workable rhythm with both its story and its characters. In particular, Bryan (Andrew Rannells) is a much more earnest and forthright character, presenting a charming level of sincerity to his desire to not only be a father, or to be part of a loving, monogamous relationship, but to settle down and have an entire family. It’s sweet, in a way that few onscreen depictions of a gay romance tend to be, since Hollywood usually feels the need to lay the drama on pretty thick, without doing much of a job in illustrating the honest kind of love that can exist between two people of the same gender. This is all a long way of saying that “The Goldie Rush” gives me confidence in what The New Normal has become. What had seemed like a flimsy, relatively one-dimensional show in the pilot has grown into something much more substantial. This episode alone deals not only with the questions faced by same-sex couples who want to start a family, but also bullying and issues of acceptance. Sure, it doesn’t do any of those things perfectly, but I don’t think any comedy on TV would be able to tackle those topics perfectly. They’re divisive issues that inspire multiple different perspectives, so no one is going to hold The New Normal as the arbiter of social progress. It’s simply a comedy. And, I’m happy to say, a fairly good one.
“The Goldie Rush” introduces Monty (Matt Bomer), Bryan’s irresponsibly good-looking ex-boyfriend, who intended to spend his life partying every night, and never having any children to answer to. Yet age has mellowed him, and he’s looking to settle down, which gives David (Justin Bartha) the idea of setting Monty up with Gary (Michael Hitchcock), the head of the surrogacy firm, who is desperately seeking a partner with whom he can start a family of his own (having gotten into the surrogacy business in the first place out of a desire to help people start the kind of family he’s wanted for himself, a sentiment that’s oddly touching, even though it’s framed as a comedic line, with Hitchcock’s manic delivery of the line). The dinner date is set, although the night goes pear-shaped pretty quickly. While Monty explains his maturation from wild, rollerblading party boy to family-oriented man, Gary is shamelessly throwing himself at him (“Who has two thumbs and no gag reflex?”) to no reaction. To make matters worse, Goldie (Georgia King) happens on the scene, and Monty is immediately beguiled with the pregnant woman, and bails on the dinner to chat with Goldie about her prospective child clothing line, Awesome Girl. Before long, Monty is announcing that he intends to go forward with surrogacy as a single parent, with Goldie as the surrogate.
Bryan and David absolutely cannot abide this, as they had been planning to have Goldie serve as surrogate for the next two babies they plan on having. And so they confront Monty, who makes an astute observation about how Bryan and David haven’t even taken Goldie’s own ideas for her future into their considerations for their future babies. It’s a sentiment that’s reflected in Goldie’s response to the couples’ proposal that she serve as their surrogate for any future children going forward, as Goldie says that while she loves Bryan and David, she isn’t a baby factory, nor does she have any intention of spending the next several years being pregnant all the time. She eventually reveals, however, that she did reject Monty’s offer to be a surrogate so that she can focus on her career – she hasn’t ruled out surrogacy in the future, but she’s simply taking things one day at a time. And just as well, as the resolution to the storyline sees Monty starting a relationship with Gary and preparing for their eventual family by babysitting Gary’s niece. It’s a bit of a random resolution to the Monty side of things, but it’s not enough to derail the episode or anything, especially when the subplot this week does such a good job of binding the episode together.
Yes, it’s another instance of Shania (Bebe Wood) being a supernaturally weird kid, yet I don’t think I’ll ever tire of that characterization. Initially, it seemed like she was a send-up of all the quirky, mystically adult-like kids on television, like you’d maybe see on Modern Family, yet Shania is so earnest in her likes and dislikes, and so utterly lacking pretentiousness that she instantly lights up any scene she’s in. In this instance, Shania is being bullied at school by three girls who give her a hard time over her weird flourishes. And so Rocky (NeNe Leakes) coaches Shania on how to “read” her opponents (with a helpful cutaway to a tutorial, for the benefit of the audience, from the two drag queens who taught Rocky and Jane how to “read”). Rocky and Jane (Ellen Barkin) teaching Shania how to “read” her bullies, and then put them in their place, is gold by itself. But seeing Shania rip into her classmates for their .99 cent Rite-Aid flip-flops, or for a walk so penguin-like that Morgan Freeman narration follows them around, is fantastic. Yet this isn’t really who Shania is. In breaking from the more adversarial gimmicks of Rocky and her grandmother Jane, the insults are merely a means to an end for Shania – a way to get her bullies in the same room with her so they can discuss how females should look out for one another. Shania is a pretty great example of how, in a perfect world, a young kid might turn around the negative of bullying into a positive, as the four girls all become fast friends. As Bryan discusses, in his episode-closing narration, how this family is different (but no less great) than the one he expected he would have, we see Shania taking pictures with her new friends.
“The Goldie Rush” is an engaging half-hour that’s more entertaining than outright funny, but that’s fine for a show like this, which looks to strike that delicate balance between comedy and sentimentality. I’ll take a well-told, sincere story over something that’s funny, but which lacks any meaningful resonance. The New Normal probably isn’t going to win any Emmys, but it’s developing into a solid comedy series.