Pierce: KSL’s rejection of gay sitcom ‘The New Normal’ doesn’t bother NBC

By Scott D. Pierce

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: February 1, 2013 10:01AM
Updated: May 21, 2013 11:31PM
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Bebe Wood as Shania; Andrew Rannells as Bryan; Justin Bartha as David; Georgia King as Goldie. Courtesy Trae Patton | NBC

The cast and producers of “The New Normal” don’t spend a lot of time worrying about KSL. But management at the Utah station worried a lot about “The New Normal” when it decided not to carry the show.

“It’s one station, and we’re not going to get weighed down by that,” said Andrew Rannells, who stars as half a gay couple having a baby with a surrogate in the sitcom. “We were happy to find a home in Salt Lake on another station.”

In every other TV market, “The New Normal” airs Tuesdays at either 8:30 or 9:30 p.m., depending on the time zone. In Utah, it airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. on KUCW-Channel 30.

“We’re obviously sad they won’t [air] it,” said creator/executive producer Ali Adler, “but there’s another venue in Salt Lake that’s carrying us, so there are options for everyone.”

The sitcom stars Rannells (“The Book of Mormon”) and Justin Bartha (“The Hangover”) as a couple who want a baby. They meet Goldie (Georgia King), who has just left her cheating husband — and she agrees to be their surrogate.

KSL management insisted they didn’t pull the show because of the gay couple; they called it “excessively rude and crude” and pointed to “offensive” characters.

Nobody bought that excuse in September; nobody’s buying it now. Ellen Barkin, who plays “offensive” Nana — Goldie’s bigoted grandmother — pointed out that KSL won’t carry “The New Normal” but airs “Law & Order: SVU.” Barkin said she wasn’t surprised the show engendered controversy.

“It’s part of the reason why many of us got involved in the show to begin with, because it was saying something that wasn’t always said in this kind of a sitcom situation,” she said. “And I think for a lot of us, the importance of that was what drew us to the material.”

NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt, on the other hand, didn’t expect any of his affiliates to balk at airing “The New Normal.”

“I didn’t know beforehand that it would not be appropriate for their audience,” he said. “But I didn’t think in this day and age that it would really affect anybody else. And it hasn’t. Every election you see more gay marriage passing. The world’s moving in that direction. And it’s just one market.”

Last season, KSL refused to carry “The Playboy Club,” which was canceled after just three episodes. But unlike that show, “The New Normal” is proving to be more of a long-term success. Or, in the case of Channel 5, a long-term problem.

The sitcom was picked up for the entire season, which means 22 episodes and multiple repeats on NBC. And “Normal” stands a decent chance of being renewed for a second season.

“Nothing’s certain, but we’re hopeful,” Greenblatt said.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.