comments_image Comments

What the New TV Lineup Says About America's Beliefs on Money, Sex and More

The good news is that we're more accepting of gay marriage; but we're more worried than ever about our economic future.

Pop culture can give us an intriguing window into how our attitudes as a nation are shifting. In the roster of new primetime TV shows premiering in the next few weeks, weighty issues abound. On the whole, it looks like we're getting more relaxed about gay marriage, more supicious of the wealthy, and more uncertain about our country's future. Is anyone in Washington paying attention? We'll find out soon enough.

Here some new shows that appear to be tuned in to the issues of the day:

"The New Normal"

How do we define the word "family"? What exactly is "normal"?  As Americans are becoming more aware of issues surrounding marriage equality and more accepting of gay marriage, that shift is being reflected and pushed along by primetime televison. Joining the look at "nontraditional" families popularized to great acclaim and success by "Modern Family," we have Andrew Rannells (“The Book of Mormon,” “Girls,”), Justin Bartha ( The Hangover) and Ellen Barkin teaming up for this show about a gay couple, the surrogate carrying their baby, and her small-minded grandmother. Gay Marriage, surrogacy, homophobia: there’s a fearlessness about hot-button issues here that’s both intriguing and admirable and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out in a comedy format. I’m also counting the minutes to once again see Andrew Rannells, whose performance as Elder Price in “The Book of Mormon” was outstanding and whose turn on “Girls” was pitch-perfect.  Premieres Tuesday, September 11, 9:30pm on NBC.

"Go On"

Gather ’round. In the new Matthew Perry vehicle, our erstwhile “Friend” plays a recent widow made to attend group therapy for his grief.  I like the synergy of an actor well known for his trips to rehab playing out scenes he may well have lived through before. Yes, there will be a zany cast of characters and backstories. But what might be most interesting here is a look at good old-fashioned talk therapy at a time when many time- and cash-strapped Americans are a lot quicker to take a Xanax than traditionally talk it out. In times of eonomic recession, therapy is often seen as a luxury and for many people one of the first targets of personal cutbacks. Slashes to state and city budgets mean that low-priced therapy services are less available to those who need them. From job insecurity to worrying about our children's prospects to divorce, many Americans find themselves in need of serious emotional support. A show focusing on just that could be an interesting reflection of the collective unconscious -- and maybe it will lessen our inhibition about seeking the help we need.  Premieres Tuesday, September 11, 9pm on NBC.

"666 Park "

1 percenters as minions of the Antichrist? With its Invisible Hand and dark market forces, capitalism certainly seems to have a supernatural dimension. And the rich definitely have a knack for making things disappear -- like your money, for example. In ABC’s new supernatural drama set on New York City’s Upper East Side, Terry O’Quinn (formerly John Locke on “Lost” ) and Vanessa Williams play the owners of a building where evil apparently knows all the resident’s names.  Whether or not O’Quinn is in fact the devil remains to be seen, but I’ll be tuning in to see how this show handles the twist on the age-old New York real estate question: how much would you pay for the perfect apartment? And in the larger sense, how far will people go to get what they want? Both scary and timely as so many Americans are as skeptical of the rich as they are fearful of declining economic status.  Premieres Sunday, September 30 ,10pm, on ABC.