This week, NBC premiered a new sitcom where a gay couple hired a single mom to be their surrogate mother, although her narrow-minded grandmother hates the idea. Meanwhile, other people saw a popular online sitcom where another gay couple were interviewed on live TV to reassure America that their love is still respectable, despite disapproval from one housewife and a very nervous sports agent. How do both shows compare on showing people that “love is love”? After the jump, comparing The New Normal to the second season finale of Husbands…(Note: there are spoilers for both)
A lot of people had high hopes for The New Normal, which was created by Ryan Murphy of Glee and Nip/Tuck. Their premise of a gay couple hoping to have a child through a single mom/surrogate named Goldie looked pretty good. It wasn’t trying to reinvent the sitcom, but show that a family isn’t always a mom and dad and kids. It can be two guys, their soon-to-be born child, a surrogate mom who is about to be divorced from her cheating husband and her quirky daughter. There’s also Goldie’s disapproving grandmother, who is apparently bigoted and bitter. She’s supposed to represent the conservative part of America, although not very well. To the show’s credit, it explains her attitude: her husband cheated on her with another man, and Goldie’s mom ran away when she was young. Hopefully, the two guys and Goldie can help her accept the New Normal, especially if it’s better that what used to be considered normal.
On the show, Bryan and David act like a typical committed couple that may remind people of Mitchell and Cameron from Modern Family. Despite this, the show was rejected by NBC’s Salt Lake City affiliate, which is owned by the Mormons, and the Million Moms group. Still, the show is just setting up the premise before they get to more substantial stories.
Compare that to the second season of Husbands, which actually has stakes involved. Cheeks tweets a picture of Brady and him kissing in bed, and everyone panics (everyone being someone from the “Billion Moms”, gossipy media and Brady’s nervous agent played by Joss Whedon). So, a live TV interview is arranged for damage control.
From this, Jane Espenson and Brad Bell create a good story about how a gay couple has to reassure America that “love is love” and their relationship is as traditional as anyone. The structure works pretty well, too. Part one has Brady and Cheeks finding out not everyone likes their marriage. Part two has both of them turning to their best friends for advice. Cheeks is convinced by Haley that he should tone down his personality because change comes from within. Brady, however, is convinced by his teammate Mark to “preach that sexy gay love” so that America can understand it. This leads to a live TV interview that seems to start off as “disastical”. It’s right out of I Love Lucy.
Then part three comes along, a day after The New Normal had aired its first two shows. We pick up where we left off with Cheeks continuing his “less sexy” persona cooking a hamburger, while Brady strips off his shirt faster than Magic Mike. Naturally, Vic Del Ray, the interviewer played by Jon Cryer of Two and a Half Men, takes advantage of this by teasing that Cheeks may use Brady’s washboard abs and show all their dirty laundry. It’s no wonder why Cheeks is upset that he and Brady aren’t even on the same font, and that the media has just passed sentence on them.
Then the story does something clever: Vic gets Brady alone and asks a simple question: how did he and Cheeks meet? That is just enough to get their guard down, and realize that they should be who they really are, even if a Billion Mom doesn’t like it on her smartphone. Or, as Cheeks puts it: “Brady cares so much about me that…well…he tried to be me, and I don’t want you to be anyone other than yourself.” Then they kiss twice…on live TV…and the agent vows to kill them. Then, it turns out America’s OK with this because they were honest about it. Wise move, America. Besides, the Billion Moms are actually just nine people, maybe including a bitter grandmother.
The show also comments about what some people think is the proper role for sex: selling food. Felicia Day proves why you can’t sell pizza the way Carl’s Jr. sells burgers. Sexy girls don’t improve the food, especially if it’s got high cholesterol. It’s like a TV drama claiming two girls pillow fighting in bed is just like sex.
Comparing Husbands to The New Normal may not be fair because the latter show is new, and is trying to find its footing. Still, it’s a chance to compare how two sitcoms argue that “love is love” and we should accept how committed couples, even same-sex couples, as they try to figure out how to get that happy ending. Husbands has the edge because it has Brady and Cheeks to tell mainstream America that their love is good, although unconventional to some. How they do that is well done, and it makes us wonder what will happen next. Maybe they’ll consider parenthood, just like two other gay couples on TV.
Season 2 of Husbands is available on YouTube and lovehusbands.com. It will also be featured during the charity screening of Dr. Horrible on October 27th in Hollywood. You can learn more about that at Whedonopolis.com