The weekend SMH contained a TV review of the New Normal. Captioned “Situation Abnormal”, it runs thus: “The fashion to make mainstream those traditionally marginalised minorities in the community is a mixed blessing. Geeks in The Big Bang Theory, fat people in Mike & Molly, gay parents in just about everything”… the writer blames the “ramming of tedious homilies down our throats about how families are made of love & quirkiness” on the creator of Glee. Then the writer turns to tirade on the subject of the new season of Glee itself. The contention is: instead of laughs we get an agenda.
Funny [wonder if that was an elusive sitcom laugh?] as a gay man, I saw the FAMILY everywhere on mainstream entertainment. When things were not familial you had a hetero male assuring another hetro male his actions were pukka: eg, Jamie Oliver in Italy, an Italian chef gives Jamie a chain bracelet. “It’s not gay.” he hastens to add.
So I stopped watching, believing in, subscribing to the mainstream experience. Clearly I and my kind were invisible; when I attempted to add my experience to the preexisting spectrum of stuff out there, often a sick look covered the face of my listener, who would accuse me of being obsessed.
The reviewer of New Normal sounds as if we are being uppity and need shoving out of sight, back into our box. Conversely, is she saying that gays do not deserve a voice about family life, we have nothing to contribute? Or is the elite eastern suburbs domestic experience [the reviewer’s background] SO AWFUL that complete cynicism has set in?
This fetishistic need for laughter is something that requires lengthy examination, best kept for another occasion. I thought the TV melodrama/sitcom was a many splendid genre, a multicoloured braid. To my mind, New Normal is exciting in its revival of the Tennessee Williams hysterical heroine, as enacted by the young daughter. The advice the gay dad gives her about being special, about valuing her unique gifts, about weathering the criticism of one’s peers [including that of the reviewer] is valuable. Homily it may be, but it serves a greater good than just giggle reflex to augment the routine of a social matron.