Ryan Murphy, the creator of the hit sitcom "Glee," has made major headlines in recent weeks for his upcoming show "The New Normal ," a new series about a gay couple preparing to have a baby with the help of a surrogate.
But the show's openly LGBT theme and characters may have rubbed some the wrong way. KSL, a a Mormon-owned NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City, announced this week it would refuse to air the show. Jeff Simpson, chief executive of Bonneville International, the owners of KSL-TV, said in a statement : "After viewing the pilot episode of 'The New Normal,' we have made the decision to keep it off our fall schedule. For our brand, this program simply feels inappropriate on several dimensions, especially during family viewing time."
Several gay rights organizations, including GLAAD, took this to mean KSL was uncomfortable with the show's gay content. GLAAD president Herndon Graddick released the following statement : "Same-sex families are a beloved part of American television thanks to shows like 'Modern Family,' 'Glee' and 'Grey's Anatomy.' While audiences, critics and advertisers have all supported LGBT stories, KSL is demonstrating how deeply out of touch it is with the rest of the country."
Media also took the opportunity to point out that LGBT families, characters and story lines are becoming increasingly mainstream on TV with the help of shows ranging from "Modern Family" and "Glee" to "NY Ink" and "Dancing With The Stars."
In response to KSL's decision not to air the show, the Utah LGBT advocacy organizations Equality Utah and Utah Pride met with KSL executives to discuss the station's reasons for not airing the show. According to Instinct Magazine, KSL later released the following statement : "We appreciated the opportunity to meet today. It was helpful to talk together, to better understand issues, and to be able to discuss the reasons behind our decision to not air ' The New Normal .' This was not a decision we made lightly and it was not made because of any single issue including gay characters or LGBT families. As a communications company we make decisions every day regarding our programming and we made a decision to not broadcast this program because we feel it had a number of issues including sexually explicit content, demeaning dialogue, and inciting stereotypes. We care about and value all members of our community, including LGBT people and their families, and are grateful when there can be the type of cordial and respectful dialogue we have had today."
In spite of KSL's decision, GLAAD will partner with Equality Utah and Utah Pride to host a special screening of "The New Normal" for Utah residents. The show's pilot episode is also already available online.
Camille Beredjick is a journalism student at Northwestern University and the founder and sole contributor ofGayWrites.org, a daily LGBT news blog.