Ellen Barkin Speaks Out Against Utah NBC Affiliate’s Ban of Her Comedy About Gay Parents
Consider the Following
Ellen Barkin is one of the stars of NBC’s The New Normal, a comedy series that follows the lives of a gay couple (the two guys at left), the single mother and law student who’s having their baby in exchange for educational funds (
Barkin, middle), her daughter (bottom), her bigoted mother (Barkin, second from right), and the gay dudes’ personal assistant (far right). Whether or not it actually pulls off being funny and thought provoking is a matter of some debate.
However, KSL-TV, one of NBC’s Utah affiliates, doesn’t seem to have been thinking along qualitative lines when they announced that they would refuse to broadcast the show, period, a decision that Barkin is putting down squarely at the door of censorship of positive portrayals of gay people.
Said KSL in their announcement, which, naturally, entirely skirts any actual reasons for canceling the show:
From time to time we may struggle with content that crosses the line in one area or another,” said Jeff Simpson, CEO of KSL’s parent company, Bonneville International. “The dialogue might be excessively rude and crude. The scenes may be too explicit or the characterizations might seem offensive … For our brand, this program feels inappropriate on several dimensions, especially during family viewing time.
The New Normal would not be the first show KSL has refused to run. Saturday Night Live has also never appeared on the channel (it and The New Normal are/will be broadcast to the area by another local station on the weekends). However, as Barkin pointed out on her twitter, they still run Law & Order: SVU, which one might assume was full enough of “rude and crude” language, and explicit scenes or plots based around rape, child trafficking, and pedophilia. After sounding off on her twitter account, she delivered this statement to Deadline:
Yes, it’s an affiliate’s right to ban something but I think it is censorship.
For an interesting perspective on the whole thing, check out Alyssa Rosenberg‘s take on why the affiliate might be uncomfortable with the show. Perhaps it isn’t that it’s a meaningfully positive portrayal of a gay couple as parents… but rather that it’s a meaningful portrayal of the impact of bigotry on its targets?
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