Ryan Murphy addresses critics of his new show ‘The New Normal’

From left: Georgia King, NeNe Leakes, Andrew Rannells, Justin Bartha, Bebe Wood and Ellen Barkin star in “The New Normal,” premiering tonight at 9:30 on NBC.

The plot
  
Single mom Goldie (Georgia King) moves to L.A. with her 8-year-old
daughter (Bebe Wood) for a better life. There, Goldie becomes the
surrogate for a gay couple, Bryan (Andrew Rannells) and David (Justin
Bartha), who want to have a baby. Ellen Barkin stars as Goldie’s
prejudiced grandmother, Jane, and NeNe Leakes plays Bryan’s assistant,
Rocky. The conservative group One Million Moms announced a boycott of the show before the season premiered. 

Call “unconventional” families “normal”
Controversy meter: Cause a boycott

Murphy credits shows like “Modern Family” and “Will & Grace,” which both featured gay characters in committed relationships, for paving the way for his show to reach the air. “Those shows changed views,” he says.

And while “The New Normal” is loosely based on Murphy’s own life — “the show came about because my partner and I have been having conversations about surrogacy,” he says — the sitcom also delves into every character re-examining his or her life and asking, “What’s next?”

“We talked about what it was like to be a single mother with a young daughter, what is it like to be [an older] woman who is completely starting over and dating again,” Murphy says of Goldie and Jane.

Feature a close-minded grandma with no filter
Controversy meter: Trend on Twitter

Nana Jane is a throwback to Archie Bunker — she says shocking, politically incorrect things and isn’t bothered if she offends someone.

“['The New Normal'] in many ways is about tolerance,” Murphy says. “When I was growing up, one of the most memorable times that I would have with my parents was watching ‘All in the Family’ and hearing people talk that way and then having a discussion: ‘Was that good? Was that bad? What was that?’ People will talk about things that [our] characters say, obviously, but I think that’s a good thing.”

Cast (gasp!) a “Real Housewife” in a scripted role
Controversy meter: Gossip item

Murphy, a huge fan of the “Real Housewives” franchise, first cast Leakes on one of his other shows, “Glee.”

“We were in the writers’ room of ‘Glee,’ and we were writing a nemesis for Jane Lynch, and I said, ‘You know what we need? We need somebody like this.’ And I had seen NeNe on ‘Housewives,’ and I had also seen her take down Star Jones on ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’ So we had watched that scene, and I said, ‘Wow. I don’t even know if NeNe wants to act, but we should talk to her and offer her this part,’ which was Roz, that she did so well.”

Murphy approached Leakes for the role of Rocky because “she’s just hilarious,” he adds.



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