Sunday, November 25, 2012

‘The New Normal’ tackles real gay concerns

(Published Nov. 22, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Reflective of contemporary gay issues, the American sitcom “The New Normal” wryly, and quite creatively, presents a nontraditional family unit, tackling a variety of subjects important to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community.

Cocreated by “Glee’s” Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler, “The New Normal” easily “out-gays” the already diverse hit TV musical series. This more gay-centric show is about a loving couple, the fey TV producer Bryan Collins (Andrew Rannells) and the masculine gynecologist David Sawyer (Justin Bartha), who hope to have their own child.

They find a kind, sympathetic surrogate in single mom Goldie (Georgia King), who wishes to study law after giving birth, and provide a better future for her tween child Shania (Bebe Wood).

While gender identity and same-sex relationships were wisely and commonly tackled in beloved, long-gone programs like the drama “Queer As Folk” and the sitcom “Will and Grace,” this new show has a snappy, sardonic tone.

“The New Normal” may be controversial, but it depicts situations that real gay couples, not only in the United States, experience. The show’s focus on the committed couple and their extended, nontraditional family makes it very timely and insightful.

It’s not without the requisite despicable characters. Ellen Barkin steals scenes as the bigot Nana Jane, Goldie’s grandma. Nana is reminiscent of “Glee’s” over-the-top coach Sue Sylvester, only meaner and less caricature-ish. Her acerbic rants often contain racist and homophobic remarks offensive to the gay couple and Bryan’s assistant Rocky (NeNe Leakes).

The half-hour series quickly established a comfortable dynamic in the first two episodes. Quirky Shania has formed a bond with her mom’s new friends and sees them as role models and guardians. Nana repeatedly menaces relatives and new acquaintances, but signs point to her temporary but occasional redemption.

While it sometimes resolves problems too neatly and quickly, “The New Normal” is mostly a feel-good, mature sitcom that aptly discusses the normalcy of, and challenges faced by, nonconformist families.

“The New Normal” airs 8:30 p.m. Sundays and 4:30 p.m. Fridays on 2nd Avenue.


Movie marathon
A total of 200 participants joined Star Movies’ third movie marathon, an endurance contest held at the Resorts World Newport Cinema, Pasay City.

The P150,000 cash prize was split among five winners—Ria Hernandez, Cathleen Andersson, Natalia Ortega, Lesly Yiu and Dominic Cruz.

The cable channel’s annual 16-hour event required competitors to watch a series of movies. Contestants who fell asleep or took bathroom breaks were eliminated.

“A lot of people are able to hold their bladder and concentrate for an extended period when watching movies,” said Jude Turcuato, Fox International Channels territory director for the Philippines. “We created some new physical challenges. Contestants were required to participate in circuit training, yoga, ride stationary bicycles and run on a treadmill.”

Season 2 of the critically acclaimed drama series “Homeland,” starring Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, airs Saturdays, 9:50 p.m. on Fox. 

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