The New Normal Review: "Obama Mama" (Episode 1.04)
The New Normal is a deceptive show, one that touts itself as open to all kinds of people yet openly mocks people who are actually different. This is no more apparent than in “Obama Mama,” which, after previous episodes have insulted people of different races, sexualities, disabilities and more, takes on politics. While the episode does show both the Republican and Democratic viewpoints, it’s heavily one-sided and makes one side definitely the right side, while the other is clearly wrong.
In case you’re tired of hearing about how one candidate for president is right and the other is completely wrong through billions of dollars’ worth of ads, now The New Normal is tackling the arguments that you probably don’t want to hear about anymore. Shania has a mock election at her school, leading David and Bryan to find out that the Clemmons family have always voted Republican.
The episode revolves around the type of family arguments about politics most people try to avoid. David and Bryan stupidly argue that Jane votes Republican because she is racist. Jane states that it is racist to just vote Democratic because Obama is black. For some reason, David and Bryan’s response is to throw a party to parade around their black friends—which they don’t have. They think to themselves that since they don’t have black friends, surely that means that they are racist. Bryan even goes so far as to suggest they hire the cast of Treme; since no one watches that show, no one would realize it.
It’s vaguely hinted at in the episode, but there’s a point where we see that Bryan is pretty much a Ryan Murphy surrogate. In The New Normal, Bryan plays a man who works as a TV producer on a show called Sing, while Murphy is also a gay TV producer who became popular after producing Glee. I’m not sure if I’m reading too much into this, but it seems then that whenever Bryan says something horrible, parading as a joke, that might be exactly how Murphy really feels.
At the party, Bryan asks his black caterer to pretend to be one of his black friends. He also invites his co-worker Rocky, for the sole reason that he hopes she and her friends will boost the black audience at his party. All her friends are unfortunately white, but she does bring Clint, her brother, who turns out to be a black Republican, a rare commodity.
During the dinner party, Jane convinces David and Bryan to admit to all of their friends that they are having a kid. When they do, this ruins any chances for Goldie, who is getting hit on by Clint. Also thrown in, without much of any further response, is that Goldie is being sued by her ex-husband for custody of Shania, and that they have to return to Ohio. The lesson at the end of “Obama Mama” ends up being that we should all have more diverse friendships, even if to do that, we just look for the most diverse family possible and try to befriend them, as Goldie does at the very end.
For once, Jane does end up being the voice of reason, as she points out the faults in Bryan and David’s viewpoints, yet the whole episode, and prior episodes, have set her up as the crazy one, who instantly spouts out horrible things and is almost always wrong.
Once again, The New Normal wants to be as diverse as possible, but it goes about doing it in completely the wrong ways. In “Obama Mama,” it’s almost as if The New Normal is stating that racial diversity should be forced, by trying to find people who are different to make your relationships more multi-cultured. But befriending people solely based on the color of their skin is a completely different problem altogether. “Obama Mama”’s idea of multicultural relationships suggests that friendships should be built on the color of skin rather than who the person is. For a show about supposed diversity, this is a dangerous message to send.