While Partners and The New Normal feature gay characters, neither are gay-centric.
“It’s what people are going through now,” notes The New Normal’s Bartha, known for his roles in The Hangover films. “We’re really writing, hopefully, a great depth to this couple,” adds Murphy. “It’s not easy to be a gay couple having a child.”
The Book of Mormon Broadway star Rannells says he was ready to sign up for The New Normal just from a general outline of the show that Murphy gave him.
“You know, as a gay man, it’s hard to sort of find projects that you can play a gay man that it feels like it’s a fully developed character that’s not just the best friend or just the bitchy boss,” says Rannells, 34, who had a recurring role on the first season of HBO’s Girls. “This is a fully developed person that I get to play. And certainly the gay aspect is a big part of it, but it’s also just a fraction of what I get to do in the show.”
On the other hand, not being gay doesn’t preclude being cast as someone who is, so audiences best not assume. Bartha, for instance, has been linked romantically with Ashley Olsen.
Former Superman Brandon Routh — who just became a father for the first time with his wife, actress Courtney Ford — plays Louis’ lover on Partners. The 31-year-old actor says it took a while for him to get over playing the superhero in Bryan Singer’s 2006 film Superman Returns, although he thought Clark Kent had some nice comedic moments.
Of course, while sitcoms have been evolving since All in the Family in the early 1970s, not everybody is happy to see more gays joining in, especially when it comes to being parents. The Christian right organization One Million Moms already has called for a boycott of the premiere episode of The New Normal.
Rannells says with glee, “It’s my first boycott!”