Ellen Barkin Defends ‘The New Normal’ After Utah Affiliate’s Ban

Ellen Barkin in "The New Normal (NBC)

NBC’s new comedy series “The New Normal” hasn’t even premiered its pilot episode yet — and already it is being pulled off the air — at least in Salt Lake City, Utah — and series star Ellen Barkin says she doesn’t get it.

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In a statement to the Deseret News, Jeff Simpson, CEO of Bonneville International — the Mormon Church-owned parent company of KSL-TV declared: “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.”

Barkin, who plays the un-PC grandmother on the series about a woman who decides to become a surrogate for a gay couple, says she doesn’t understand why KSL would feel that “a show about a loving, committed, same sex couple wanting to raise a child” is considered inappropriate to air during family viewing, when the station broadcasts “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” a show that is explicit in dealing with subjects such as rape, murder and child slavery.

“I don’t get it,” she says, adding that she is a fan of “L&O.” Nevertheless, she Tweeted about the ban and received a barrage of responses from both sides.

Watch the pilot episode of “The New Normal” early:

[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/tv/The-New-Normal/176533/2273990286/Pilot/embed 580 476]

“Being responded to by both sides meant that people paid attention,” she said in a conference call to promote the Sept. 11 premiere of the series. “I think that is what matters. Whether you agree that KSL should ban the show [but] let your children watch a TV show where they use words like anal tearing and vaginal tearing, that’s okay, but… Let both sides weigh in and defend their positions. That is fine with me as long as they weigh in without slander and without misinterpretation of anyone’s remarks.”

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“The New Normal” is not the first series to be banned by KSL. Last season, it refused to air “The Playboy Club;” in 2003, it chose not to air “Coupling;” and in 2000, it banned “God, the Devil and Bob.” It routinely does not broadcast “Saturday Night Live,” which runs on the Salt Lake City CW station, KUCW, which has also agreed to air “The New Normal,” date and time to be announced.

In addition to defending the people’s rights to decide for themselves what to watch — saying, “If you don’t want to watch, turn off your TV — Barkin also defends her character Nana Jane, who is being compared to “All in the Family’s” resident bigot Archie Bunker. Barkin wants to make it clear that she thinks there is a lot more to Nana than we see in the pilot.

“This isn’t a stereotypical liberal’s version of someone who doesn’t disagree with their positions whatever they are…,” she told XfinityTV.com. “She is not that. She is informed, she is passionate about her commitments and they are informed positions. I would just like people to not judge this character until they get to know her because they are going to be very surprised.”

“The New Normal” premieres on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 9:30/8:30c on NBC.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.


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