A sitcom about a married couple who loves each other, wants a baby, and has wacky acquaintances is hardly groundbreaking new territory for network TV. NBC's new Ryan Murphy show The New Normal is another in a long line of focused-on-the-family television fare, but with one significant twist: The married people at its center are gay men. That's interesting, sure, and I'm all for more diverse representations on the big networks, but it doesn't change the fact that this is a standard, predictable, dare I say "normal," new show.
Today, new methods have replaced DeLee's, and yet popular obstetric interventions (cesareans, amniotomies, labor-inducing drugs, episiotomies, epidurals) are still designed to transfer control from the woman to her labor assistant. 33% of births in the United States are by cesarean, a rate that has grown significantly during the previous decade, in tandem with increasing rates of maternal injury and death. Yet representations of childbirth in television and film rarely show cesareans. Which is why I was so grateful for Reagan's recent childbirth episode on Up All Night.
I realize that I'm the umpteenthbloggerto toss ina couple pennies on the gender dynamics of the fall TV lineup, but I couldn't resist. Since "Isn't He Lovely" is examining social attitudes like "What Men Should Like Look Like" and "How to Perform the Tap Dance of Masculinity with Aplomb," the handful of male-in-crisis sitcoms debuting this season fit right into the narrative. For all the words that I've spilled on how men are tending to their pubic hair and pumping iron and generally not liking what they're seeing in the mirror—and also not wanting to talk about it due to the feminine associations of expressing dissatisfaction with their looks—these shows are out to grab heterosexual male America and shake his softened shoulders into action. One is even called Man Up! for heaven's sake.