Now that The New Normal has found its comedy groove on NBC, executive producer Ali Adler shared her thoughts on same sex parenting and the Ellen Barkin’s opinionated character.
After working with creator Ryan Murphy on Glee, writer Ali Adler joined forces with Murphy this year to create The New Normal, about two gay men who enlist a single mother to be their surrogate in the hope of becoming parents.
Starring Justin Bartha, Andrew Rannels, Georgia King and Ellen Barkin as a narrow-minded, homophobic grandmother, The New Normal has not only sparked a slew of controversy for its concept but also challenges the mainstream perceptions of what it means to be normal.
As well, The New Normal challenges Americans to look inward at their own feelings toward same sex couples as parents. Is America ready to become more tolerant and accepting in network primetime? One thing we know for certain, change is a constant in both life and TV.
With an opinionated character like Ellen Barkin’s Jane, since she’s so set in her ways, how much room is there for her to become more tolerant and accepting?
“Hopefully we’re trying to create characters that are people,” said Adler to The Deadbolt. “And as much as people change, I think all of these characters can change. No one is ever going to be something that they’re not and hopefully she can learn and grow from her experiences. Not that I want to compare her to Archie Bunker, because many people have, but I think the best moments are when we keep characters who they are at their roots.”
Since many fans and critics of The New Normal have compared Barkin’s character to the legendary Archie Bunker, an older guy with a narrow view of the multicultural world around him, The New Normal has put homophobia under a bright spotlight on primetime television.
But will we see Nana Jane change her views throughout the show, or will she stay the same for comedic effect?
“We will definitely see different sides of Jane,” Adler continued. “Not this week but the next week, we see an amazing side of Jane. But I don’t think she’s ever going to become that cuddly Nana.”
This week on The New Normal, in the episode called “Baby Clothes,” Bryan (Andrew Rannells) goes overboard buying baby clothes ignoring David’s (Justin Bartha) advice to wait until all of the medical tests are complete before he starts celebrating the pregnancy. Also in this week’s episode, Shania (Bebe Wood) wears one of the baby outfits to school and makes a new friend, which lands Jane (Ellen Barkin) and Goldie (Georgia King) in an awkward parent teacher conference.
Although The New Normal has sparked controversy over the issue of same sex couples becoming parents, the concept is indeed “normal” to Ali Adler, a same sex mother of two herself.
After so much awareness around gay rights over the years, is Ali Adler surprised that the concept of same sex parents is still such a controversial issue in America? For Adler, The New Normal transcends gender stereotypes.
“Our cast presents a loving couple that are going to become parents,” said Adler, “we hope. As a same sex mom with another mom, I obviously don’t think it’s controversial. I hope people are surprised at how relatable it is to their own experience. I think it looks very similar to our own experience. We’re all just complaining about getting up in the middle of the night or being tired from work and our parenting. So it’s all pretty much the same and hopefully we’ll see that.”
The New Normal airs Tuesday nights at 9:30/8:30c on NBC.