May 14, 2012 2:15pm PT by Jordan Zakarin
Upfronts 2012: 'Hangover' and 'Book of Mormon' Stars on Their New Gay Couple Comedy
Leave it to Ryan Murphy to create a show that positions itself smack in the middle of the cultural zeitgeist four months before it even hits the air.
The Glee and American Horror Story creator's latest project is the NBC comedy The New Normal, about a gay couple (played by Justin Bartha and Andrew Rannells) that decides to have a child via surrogate -- a woman (Georgia King) who subsequently injects herself into their everyday lives long after the baby is born. The show's pickup and official unveiling comes less than a week after President Obama announced his support for gay marriage, making it a subject that has once again become a main topic of election-year conversation.
Bartha and Rannells both understand that the development will make their show, a primetime comedy on a broadcast network, one of the cultural touchstones for the political debate, and both welcome the opportunity to participate.
"I think that there are many, many gay couples out there and many people who wish they could be in a gay couple that aren’t comfortable with that," Bartha told The Hollywood Reporter at NBC's upfront presentation Monday. "There are people who want to have children, people that want to get married, and all of these people just want to do that from happiness. So these are simple things, and they seem obvious to maybe you and me -- but to a lot of America, it may not be obvious. So yeah, I would love to be part of that conversation."
In fact, Bartha is so passionate about the issue that, while he's glad the president did endorse marriage equality, he says it was "a conversation that should have been had many, many years ago."
Rannells also welcomes any political attention the series might get and also is excited about the work that will go into his part in particular: He plays a character loosely based on Murphy himself.
"I don't have to do an impersonation or anything, but I think that he and I are very similar in a lot of ways, just in terms of the sense of humor and things like that, so that was kind of a good fit for me," he told THR. "The tone in which he writes himself is really hilarious, so it’s such a treat to get to do that."
Rannells' character is much more gung-ho about having kids -- he has to convince his more conservative partner -- and in that sense, the pair know that the show will not only get political attention but inevitable comparisons to Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson's characters on Modern Family.
"I know that Modern Family had a storyline where the guys had a baby, so I don’t mind being compared to one of the great shows of many years, that’s fine," Bartha said. "You’ll see that it is not just different tonally, it’s a pretty different show."