Loose lips and LAUGHS
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