I've never been too keen on the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, otherwise known as GLAAD. I'm all for people who are also against defaming gays and lesbians, but I never found several of their initiatives, particularly those in the entertainment sector, to be very positive for the gay community. Take, for example, The GLAAD Media Awards, which generally laud celebrities, news outlets, TV shows, and films for doing the very least to portray people of the LGBT community in any positive light—mostly by simply marketing to them. I've always found it to be a bit pandering! And, not surprisingly, the organization seems to have thrown all of their support behind Ryan Murphy's new NBC sitcom, The New Normal.
I watched the pilot for The New Normal. Now, I know, generally, pilots are not too representative of a television show. But the pilot for The New Normal was not good. It was full of easy laughs, excruciatingly calculated heart-warming moments, and a generally shitty outlook—it's full of racist humor and downright mean, which is not particularly becoming for a show that makes a point to show the positives of a same-sex couple raising a child. So why is GLAAD, an organization the purports the positive depiction of LGBT community members, devote an entire page of its site to the show in what is basically a massive advertisement?
The short answer, I assume, is "money". But let's focus more on what the site intends to do. It lists three examples of same-sex couples who are successfully raising their children. See? These couples are The New Normal! Just like the show! They do not, of course, feature group shots of their families large enough to include their homophobic and racist family members (like the cast photo that features Ellen Barkin's character) or with their African-American employee (in The New Normal's case, played by Real Housewives of Atlanta provocateur Nene Leakes). Nor is there any sense that these same-sex couplings are restricted to somewhat sexist and heteronormative gender norms as in the show, in which Justin Bartha (who is straight in real life) plays the masculine one of the pair, which Andrew Rannells (who is gay in real life) plays the queeny one.
Additionally, GLAAD hosts an infographic claiming, despite the suggestion of homophobic group One Million Moms, that American TV has a long history of featuring same-sex parents. Forty years worth of history, in fact! Sure, of its fifteen examples, eleven of them are from the last twenty years. One example, from 1987, is a pair of secondary characters from a recurring sketch on The Tracy Ullman Show. Another, from 1977, is Billy Crystal’s character from Soap—the first series regular who was a homosexual—who impregnates a woman on a one-night stand. And there’s the suggestion that American Dad is forging the concept of same-sex parenting, because Seth MacFarlane is clearly a bastion of tolerance, respect, and equality.
So, what gives? Is GLAAD suggesting that we should just settle for a show that preaches intolerance for humor’s sake as much as it delivers self-congratulatory respect for non-traditional families? Or is GLAAD’s support of the show (which you can see in full below) just another example of it giving attention to another series that probably doesn’t do much for the LGBT community other than perpetuate the same lame stereotypes we’ve seen on television for years? After all, wouldn’t it be a lot edgier to portray a same-sex couple in a sitcom with a little less levity?
Contact the author of this post at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter.