Well, this was a weird half-hour of television. “Dairy Queen” is basically about people who either want to give breast milk but can’t or about people who want to drink breast milk but shouldn’t. It’s an incredibly odd premise, one that The New Normal isn’t really that prepared to pull off yet. “Dairy Queen” is very awkward, but not in the ways it wants to be, and it falls flat on so many occasions.
But first, let’s discuss the only story arc here that doesn’t involve breast milk (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d have to write). It’s been very clear that from the beginning, Jane has been the most troublesome character on The New Normal, and at first, it seemed like the show was fine with being terrible through her actions. But around the halfway point of this first season, the show has done a 180 on the character. Lately, this has been thanks to John Stamos’ Bryce, the love interest for Jane. It’s kind of perfect that Bryce is a real estate agent, because with Jane, he almost seems to use his job training to fix her. He focuses on the positive aspects and attempts to repair the ghastly parts that no one wants to see. Basically, John Stamos is the fixer of The New Normal’s largest problem.
But since Jane has sort of come to the realization that she just might be an absolutely horrible person, the show has actively had her trying to repair herself, just what she and the show needed. The best part of “Dairy Queen” has Jane retreating to her usual racist stereotypes for humor. While New Normal used to play these for laughs, here it’s played as tasteless and disgusting, as Bryce flat-out tells her that type of humor isn’t funny. Maybe Bryce should have told that to the writers of The New Normal 15 episodes ago…
For the first time in New Normal’s history, Jane is the thing that works the best. Basically, Bryan wants to be able to breastfeed his baby, and having found out that she wasn’t breastfed, Shania desperately goes on the hunt for some breast milk. Neither of these plots really is worth telling, they both just showcase that Bryan and Shania simply want to be closer to their baby or mother, respectively. No breaking news here. Bryan’s story peak is when he organizes a flash mob of breastfeeding mothers at an unkind restaurant, set to Kelis’ “Milkshake.” So this is where Ryan Murphy sends his rejected Glee ideas to die.
The Shania and Goldie story is equally clumsy, as Shania doesn’t want to be like the slow kid in class, and the best way for her to avoid this is for her lactating mom to squirt some milk in her cereal, or whatever. When Goldie denies her this, because as she says it is an incredibly stupid idea, Shania buys a glass of breast milk on the internet and threatens to drink it.
At times, New Normal really seems like it just tries to tackle one issue for new parents each week. The show has discussed godparents, baby-proofing and now breastfeeding, but here it leans the most egregiously towards this quirky way of handling first-time family problems one week at a time. Most of the humor here is supposed to come from Bryan wearing a Milk Man, a vest with built-in nipples that will allow a man to breastfeed his child. Yet, it’s not very funny. Neither is watching an almost 10-year-old girl drink a full glass of a stranger’s breast milk.
Surely, there’s a better way that The New Normal could have handled breast-feeding than how it did in “Dairy Queen.” It’s clumsy, over-the-top and silly in all the wrong ways. If Jane is the strongest part of the episode, that should be a surefire way to tell something might be wrong.