Season 1, Episode 3, “Baby Clothes”
OK, maybe I spoke too soon last week. The New Normal went into preachy overdrive this week with a little too much speechifying at the expense of jokes. Nothing wrong with walking that comedy-drama line, but you still have to make us laugh.
Bryan has broken his “no buying baby clothes” rule with David because seriously, who can resist adorable baby outfits? Bryan’s delighted by all the new baby fashions — he even references House of LaBeija, which has got to be a sitcom first — and the baby model. (“That baby model was a perfect, like, 12-8-12.”) But David wants to make sure to get all the prenatal tests in order first: what if this baby has three arms and can’t wear Marc Jacobs?
David can’t get past all the possible pregnancy complications. (Did you know nearly 25 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage? Super depressing.) Bryan’s a little concerned about his kid having red hair, but he’s still fixated on the baby clothes. Meanwhile, Shania wears a baby top to school and gets attention from a sleazy male classmate for looking — well, a little trashy. But self-confidence is good, so David and Bryan take Goldie to an outlet mall to buy Shania more new (presumably age-appropriate) clothes.
At the outlet mall, Bryan and David share a kiss that’s interrupted by your standard TV bigot. (Do I doubt that this homophobia exists in real life? Of course not. It was still a little much.) Bryan lectures the jerk, but the bigot gets the last word, calling two gay men having a kid “disgusting.” Elsewhere, Nana goes to pick Shania up from school and catches her kissing that fourth-grade lech. She quickly whisks Shania and her paramour away to Planned Parenthood, which seems like the last place Nana would want to be.
Bryan tearfully laments not standing up to the bully — and here’s where “Baby Clothes” sort of lost me. I get what The New Normal is trying to do, but it was all so heavy-handed. And in attempting to do what’s right, David defends a man with Down’s syndrome at his gym by punching another bully in the face. David gets banned for life and the guy he was defending turns out to be a gross homophobe who calls him a “fag.” I guess the moral is not to help anyone, ever? Mediation for Shania is less violent, with a parent-teacher conference at her school. Nana explains that she just wants a better life for her great-granddaughter, but that doesn’t really excuse her being a monster.
I assume this is part of the softening of Nana that will surely occur throughout the season — she even brings over baby clothes at the end of the episode! Yes, it’s a shirt that says “Please Help Me,” but it’s still a gesture. As the new family sits down to dinner, I wonder if The New Normal can reign in the emotions a bit. Believe me, the fact that this show exists is a major step forward, but I think it will change more minds with laughter than with speeches.
Louis Peitzman is a freelance writer in Los Angeles, spending most of his time as the weekend editor at Gawker and a contributor to WitStream and TV.com. He’s a little bit Dorothy, a little bit Blanche. You can follow him on Twitter.