This week on “The New Normal,” we tackle the age old issue of people who like to think of themselves as free of prejudice everywhere: if you happen not to have any friends of color or alternative sexual orientation, does that make you bigoted even if you don’t consciously hold prejudices or is it more bigoted to approach making friends like some sort of diversity based PokÃ©mon game?
Goldie gets her absentee ballot from Ohio, and Bryan and David are all about encouraging her to vote for Obama. Nana, of course, wants her to vote Republican like the last several generations of her family. Goldie seems mostly closed mouthed about her own feelings. When Nana bullies Bryan and David about trying to sway Goldie’s vote and they call her racist (probably true), she counters that they’re just typical liberals who talk the talk but can’t walk the walk.
To prove they are truly liberal, they throw the most awkward and awful dinner party in the history of ever to show off all their diverse friends”¦of which they basically have none. So Bryan, in an awful move, gets a black waiter from the catering company to act like their friend and invites Rocky and “all her friends!” to the party to pad out their liberal credentials.
Predictably, none of this goes well. Rocky, it turns out, has white friends, the waiter cops to being an actor, and Rocky’s brother is apparently a Republican who agrees more with Nana than with Bryan and David about politics. No one learns any lessons and all the political arguments are shallow and based mostly around sound bites. Just like REAL political arguments! And you know we all love those so much. Frankly, no one comes out looking like they’re right no matter which side of the political spectrum you happen to find yourself on, and there’s something refreshing about that. We also learn that Goldie’s mother, Nana’s daughter, had originally planned on aborting and Nana stopped her from doing so.
Meanwhile, Goldie is experiencing some additional pressure from Bryan and David regarding her diet while pregnant. She’s craving burgers and cake, but they’re trying to push organic veggies and fresh fruit on her. Things seem to turn around a bit when Rocky’s brother, Clint, takes an interest in her at the dinner party and actually goes so far as to ask her out on a date, something Goldie seems excited about. Nana sees this happening, and talks Bryan and David into surprising the party with the news that Goldie is carrying their baby, causing Goldie to leave the party with no indication of where she’s going.
They find Goldie at a fast food joint in clear distress, and immediately Bryan, David, and Nana begin talking over her all over again, reassuring her that she can eat whatever she wants and vote for whoever she wants, but she’s crying because her soon to be ex-husband has decided to sue for custody of Shania and she’ll have to go back to Ohio. Everyone is appropriately sad about this. Except Nana, who says, “Hallelujah, that moron finally did one smart thing.”
The episode ends with Shania voting for Barack Obama in her class’ mock election and Goldie introducing Bryan and David to the parents of one of Shania’s classmates, a mixed race couple pregnant with their second child. They make a dinner date with Bryan and David to give them some tips on becoming parents and as everyone walks away happy, the couple whispers to each other, “This is great, we were just saying how we need more gay friends.” Oh, people.
On the one hand, I’m glad we’ve got a bit more conflict going on in this episode because the show was portraying Bryan and David as a bit perfect, so seeing them bully Goldie a bit adds some realism to them that had been lacking. Goldie has also been a little flat as a character so far, but it’s becoming clear that Nana’s strong personality has her used to just going along with whatever the strong personalities around her want. Now that she has an actual fight on her hands over Shania, I guess we’ll see if she’s able to stand on her own two feet. I’m not a fan of episodes dealing with contemporary politics because I think they become dated very quickly, but I appreciate that this didn’t go the way they usually go with the writer’s preference coming out clearly and strongly as the “right” side (*cough*Sorkin*cough*). Of course, that made a lot of this episode far more uncomfortable to watch. Anyway, we’ve added some conflict and plots, which is a good thing.