Loose lips and LAUGHS

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - TV Guide - - Close Up - – An­drew Fen­ton

Straight ac­tor Justin Bartha says his “new nor­mal” is go­ing to work and kiss­ing a man.

The Hang­over and Na­tional Trea­sure star ad­mits this took a bit of get­ting used to.

“It was new, it was some­thing I had not ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore, but it was quite lovely,” Bartha says with a laugh as he re­calls kiss­ing gay co-star An­drew Ran­nells for the first time.

“An­drew is a good kisser – and I’m thank­ful that he is be­cause we’ll be kiss­ing a lot more.”

At first blush, The New Nor­mal could be seen as the next log­i­cal step from Mod­ern Fam­ily – but with the gay cou­ple, Bryan ( Ran­nells) and David ( Bartha), front and cen­tre as they try to have a baby us­ing sur­ro­gate sin­gle mum Goldie ( Ge­or­gia King).

They form an unortho­dox fam­ily unit, along with Goldie’s nine-year-old daugh­ter Sha­nia ( Bebe Wood) and her nar­row-minded Nanna, Jane For­rest ( Ellen Barkin).

But The New Nor­mal is ac­tu­ally based on re­al­ity, with “Bryan” a fic­tion­alised ver­sion of Glee cre­ator Ryan Murphy (who also writes and di­rects) and “David” a ver­sion of his hus­band David Miller.

The sto­ry­line was drawn from their dis­cus­sions about hav­ing a child through a sur­ro­gate, and ex­panded upon by co-cre­ator Ali Adler, who has had two chil­dren, via sperm donor, with her part­ner, ac­tress Sara Gil­bert ( The Big Bang The­ory).

It may all sound hor­ri­bly po­lit­i­cally cor­rect but any­one who has al­ready caught the show on Chan­nel 10 knows that it is any­thing but.

The se­ries goes out of its way to defy ex­pec­ta­tions and sub­vert stereo­types: there are ho­mo­pho­bic dis­abled peo­ple, gay men who are ma­cho jerks and racist lib­er­als.

The most con­tro­ver­sial char­ac­ter is Nanna who says out­ra­geous things like “I will not have you left-wing Nancy boys in­fect­ing my grand­daugh­ter with your hug-a-Mus­lim-crap”.

Barkin’s char­ac­ter is based partly on Murphy’s grand­mother and rep­re­sents the opin­ions of so­cially con­ser­va­tive US pres­sure groups such as One Mil­lion Moms (which has boy­cotted the show on mo­ral grounds). Bartha says Murphy takes his in­spi­ra­tion from the ’70s sit­com All In The Fam­ily, which found com­edy in work­ing-class bigot Archie Bunker’s re­sponse to so­cial is­sues.

Some crit­i­cised Bunker, ar­gu­ing his TV role made peo­ple feel more able to vent their prej­u­dices. Is that a po­ten­tial side ef­fect of Barkin’s char­ac­ter? “If peo­ple feel that way, I don’t think a char­ac­ter on a TV show is go­ing to push them over the edge,” he says. “Their minds are prob­a­bly made up al­ready.”

Bartha is now film­ing the third Hang­over movie in Las Ve­gas and Los An­ge­les. In the fran­chise he plays Doug, the fre­quently mis­placed groom. Fans of­ten spot him and shout out “I FOUND DOUG!”.

While the sec­ond film was crit­i­cised for es­sen­tially re­hash­ing the first, Bartha says num­ber three heads in a new di­rec­tion.

“The third one is much more in the spirit of the first one, in that we’re try­ing to re­cap­ture that el­e­ment of sur­prise, the new­ness of it.”

•Mon­day 9pm, Ten

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.