The New Normal Review: "Nanagasm" (Episode 1.05)
The New Normal can at times be a decent show. When the show tries to force the idea that it’s progressive or promotes differences while simultaneously exploiting and insulting those with the same differences, that’s when it fails—and fails hard. So far in its premiere season, The New Normal is about half and half, winning over with heartwarming family dynamics one week, before insulting any minority, belief or disability it can the next. “Nanagasm” thankfully isn’t as aggressively anti-different as it can be (see last week), but even without that, this week’s episode doesn’t succeed in the family aspects either.
David’s mother is coming to visit, and she isn’t exactly a fan of Bryan. The two are going to announce the pregnancy, but her inability to focus on anyone other than David and her attempts to one-up Bryan at every chance come in between this being a great moment for Bryan and David. While one future grandmother is visiting, Nana Jane is getting busy with a stranger she met at her hotel’s bar. Since her husband turned out to be gay, she experiences her first orgasm, which she admits to gynecologist David.
What works best in “Nanagasm” is that in this episode, characters call each other out on how crappy they can be. After seeing the ratings and The New Normal getting picked up for an entire season of episodes, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who thinks that Bryan and Jane can be pretty horrible people. David’s mother and Bryan have an argument about why they dislike each other so much, and Jane’s one-night-stand talks about how horrible she probably was at a younger age. He should get to know her now
The show’s two decent, innocent characters, Goldie and Shania, aren’t really given much to do. Shania is working on completing her California Bucket List before she may have to move back to Ohio, while Goldie just sorts of follows along, as the two go surfing and have a quinceanera, which unsurprisingly brings the inappropriate humor the show is inclined to do.
When he’s not busy being close-minded, Bryan is many times the show’s strongest character. Andrew Rannells pulls off being Ryan Murphy-lite better than anyone else could. The confrontation with David’s mother and the closing moments where we see Bryan calling his mother for the first time in years are both strong Bryan moments. Also, if the show were to have more moments of quiet humor from Bryan, such as the episode’s coda of him silently beating the candy out of a piñata, the show might be stronger.
“Nanagasm” isn’t a failure, nor is it a success either. It does without much of the awful diatribes that appear in most episodes, but does without much of the family bonding that the show can do quite well at times. This combination makes it possibly the blandest The New Normal episode yet.