The creator of The New Normal — NBC’s new comedy starring Ellen Barkin and Justin Bartha (Hangover) that has already raised the ire of a conservative mom group — said he hopes the show will be about tolerance and “delivered with sensitivity.” And if it that won’t be enough, the One Million Moms should be able to see themselves in Barkin’s character — an uptight and right-leaning woman whose granddaughter Goldie (Georgia King) is serving as a surrogate to a gay couple played by Bartha and Andrew Rannells (Broadway’s The Book of Mormon).
“Every person and group has a right to protest something,” Ryan Murphy told TV writers Tuesday in Los Angeles. “I find it to be interesting that they would take a position before they’ve seen it. I think if they watch the show, I actually think they would love it. For the first time they will be represented! Ellen Barkin’s character is a member of the Million Moms! She will protest people and events and I think it will be great fodder for Brian and David’s characters to talk about.
“In many ways this show is about tolerance and the discussion of the tolerance and its delivered with sensitivity with a certain amount of veracity.”
If anything, Murphy believes the most controversial character will be the one played by Barkin. “I remember Thanksgivings when I was growing up and my grandma would say jaw-dropping things and we would call her out on it. It felt very familiar to me. Hopefully it will feel familiar to other people.”
While Murphy credited shows like Modern Family and Will & Grace for “changing views,” he said the comedy was ultimately inspired by his own personal experience. “The show is loosely based on my life, and the show came about because my partner and I are having conversations about surrogacy.” As for the decision to cast attractive actors like Bartha and Rannells, Murphy admitted that some vanity was involved. “When someone is loosely playing you, you want them to be much better looking.”
The New Normal premieres Sept. 11; trailer here.
Read more: EW cover story: The New Art of Coming Out