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Scott D. Pierce: KSL looks anti-gay for pulling 'New Normal'

Published August 30, 2012 4:41 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

For the second year in a row, I find myself in the position of disagreeing with KSL's decision to pull a show I don't particularly want to defend.

A year ago, it was "The Playboy Club," a disappointing crime-drama that was yanked off NBC's schedule after three episodes because of bad ratings.

This year, it's "The New Normal," a not-so-funny comedy about two gay men and the woman who agrees to be the surrogate mother for their baby.

Neither show is markedly different from the rest of what NBC airs. And, once again, KSL looks inconsistent at best.

"The New Normal" isn't terrible. But it feels like one of producer Ryan Murphy's more preachy episodes of "Glee."

To be clear, this is KSL's decision to make. I support that right, but any such decision comes with consequences.

If you're yanking "The New Normal" because it's "excessively rude and crude" and there are "offensive" characters — as Jeff Simpson, the CEO of KSL's parent company, contends — you can't help but look around NBC's schedule.

Many of NBC's other sitcoms are vulgar and sexual. And while KSL deems "The New Normal" inappropriate for an 8:30 p.m. MT time slot, the station has aired episodes of "Law & Order: SVU" — a show about sex crimes — from 8-9 p.m.

KSL is pointing to racist comments made by one "New Normal" character. That's also happened on NBC sitcoms ranging from "30 Rock" to "Communty," which continue to air on KSL.

The obvious parallel to "New Normal" is "Will & Grace." KSL aired that show from 1998-2006, and it contained any number of jaw-dropping jokes containing very specific references to sex acts.

They're both about gay men, so what's the difference between the two? "The New Normal" is about two gay men in a committed relationship hoping to raise a child.

Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, assailed KSL for "refusing to affirm LGBT families" and,"sending a dangerous message to Utah.

Simpson met with representatives from Equality Utah and the Utah Pride Center this week, reiterating that the show wasn't pulled "because of any single issue, including gay characters or LGBT families."

"We accept their explanation," said Valerie Larabee, executive director of the Utah Pride Center. "For us, the core issue is not 'The New Normal' but, rather, dialogue, which is important to the whole community."

It's great that they're talking. Great that a different voice is being heard inside Broadcast House.

But when the one show you yank is the one about the gay men, you're still sending a thinly veiled message that you're anti-gay. Which still seems less than honorable.

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