Ten weeks in, The New Normal has finally served up very good episode. In “The XY Factor,” The New Normal throws aside the aspects of the show that don’t work, while strengthening the main bond between David and Bryan and, for the first time in a while, giving these characters more depth.
First off, “The XY Factor” may be the first episode of The New Normal that never puts down anyone. There’s no insults thrown out or racial slurs, mostly thanks to Nana Jane not making an appearance in the half-hour. The closest the show gets is Shania’s rendition of Cher’s “Half Breed” in a show where students are to present women who mean something to them.
And while this may seem like a no-brainer, this is the first episode where it seemed like David and Bryan actually cared about the kid that they were bringing into the world. In the first nine episodes, Bryan has shown that he wants a child to dress up and would rather respond to his tweets than save his baby’s life, with David seeming to want to have a kid just to give Bryan what he wants. But in “The XY Factor,” both show an actual desire and excitement for this child.
In the episode, Goldie lets it slip that she is carrying a boy. David wanted a boy so he could share his baseball collection and coach his kid’s football team. Bryan wanted a girl, but he quickly gets over it, instead trying to find his place in this new brotastic family that is being created. He tries coaching football, which he’s not very good at, but he’s at least showing interest. When David brings an entire kid’s football team home for pizza, Bryan has set up video games for the boys to play and made a create-your-own pizza bar for the team, all in 40 minutes. He may be slightly disappointed that he’s not getting a girl, but he shows that he’s going to give his all into being the best parent he can be, which we haven’t really seen yet.
At the end, Bryan has created a nursery for the child that integrates elements of both Bryan and David into it. This is what the show has needed: a way to show compromise from both parents, while showing an actual desire for this kid who up until now has been more like a plot device than a future human being.
The Goldie and Shania story is much weaker, but that’s become the norm lately. When Shania is suspended for singing “Half Breed,” Goldie goes into lawyer mode to turn around this decision at Shania’s school. If you’ve forgotten that Goldie has wanted to be a lawyer, it turns out the show has as well. Turns out Goldie isn’t very good at being a lawyer; she’s confused by bigger words and gets upset when the wrong side wins. The New Normal has also been making Goldie dumber through each new episode. When the episode ends, Goldie has decided to no longer be a lawyer, but instead to do something with clothes—however, that hasn’t been explained yet. It is an example of the show backtracking, but it makes more sense with where the show is taking Goldie’s character.
“The XY Factor” isn’t a perfect episode of The New Normal, but it’s the closest thing to a good episode that we’ve had. It doesn’t hurt that the show is trying to change huge flaws like Goldie’s dream job that hasn’t been mentioned in months, or keeping Jane out of the picture every few weeks. But we’ve been given false starts in the past with The New Normal with episodes that seem like a great change, only to be thrown out the window the next week. Fingers crossed that The New Normal is finally on the right path.