The New Normal Review: "Baby Clothes" (Episode 1.03)
For the first two episodes, The New Normal had problems balancing the heartfelt creation of an unconventional family with the show’s attempts to find humor
in differences in others, insulting stereotypes and the bashing of almost all minorities. “Baby Clothes” is The New Normal’s attempt at meshing these two into one. For the most part, it’s the show’s most successful half-hour to date, even though there’s quite a bit of hypocrisy in the moral behind the episode.
One of the show’s glaring problems is the question of why Bryan and David want
a kid. There’s no denying they’ll probably be good parents, but Bryan’s constant talk of dressing up the baby makes it seems like he has a one-track mind: this child will be his accessory. It doesn’t help much that Bryan hopes the baby will be undersized so it can fit into Marc Jacobs clothes. David has set up a rule that Bryan can’t buy baby clothes for 12 weeks, until the early tests have been done on the child. But of course, within the first few minutes, Bryan has already broken this rule.
When Bryan and David take Goldie to an outlet mall, a fanny-pack-wearing father
shakes the group up by saying that the couple shouldn’t show affection in public places. This causes Bryan to stand up to the man, but the effects can be seen later as Bryan is scared of bringing their child into a world of intolerance. It’s a moving moment, and Andrew Rannells sells it, but considering their ability to stomach the constant hatred coming from Jane, it does come off sort of odd that having a random stranger dislike their love would shake them up as much as it does.
Since Bryan couldn’t keep the baby clothes he purchased, he gives one of the
dresses to Shania, who decides to wear it to school. When Jane goes to pick up Shania
from school, she finds Shania kissing a boy from her class. Jane takes both nine-year-
olds to Planned Parenthood for the pill and extra-small condoms. Everyone thinks Jane is overreacting, but she makes a valid point with her worries. She became a grandmother at a young age and doesn’t want the pattern to continue. It’s the first time we’ve seen Jane reined in a bit and a moment when her fears make sense to the story.
While waiting at a gym’s smoothie stand, David hears a man in line use the word
“retard” to a person in the front of the line, and he stands up and hits the insulter. Yet, the insulted person comes over to call David a fag. David comes to the realization
that he needs to cherish the victories in life, since their kid is going to have many
problems, and gives in to Bryan’s incessant need to already dress the child. In the end, Bryan and David have dinner with Goldie’s family, as even Jane and Bryan start to find some common ground and areas for peace.
Once again, while The New Normal seems to have its heart in the right place,
the show acts like it has learned something, and then completely disregards it. While
Bryan and David were both shocked by close-mindedness people can exhibit, in
the end Bryan and Jane bond over a racist joke. It also seems like Bryan might have
been changed by the exchange at the outlet mall, but in the end he’s rewarded by getting to purchase baby clothes again, which reinforces the idea that he just wants to have a little human to dress up. But hopefully it will be a tiny baby so it can fit into designer clothes. Maybe if they’re lucky, the baby could be premature!
This balance of wanting tolerance, yet being intolerant truly hurts The New
Normal. By the end, it seems the only lesson is that everyone is somewhat intolerant, so it’s almost okay. “Baby Clothes” comes so very close to nailing what The New Normal should be, but it then pulls the rug out for the sake of unfunny jokes that hurt more than help.