ABSTRACT

The New Normal, NBC’s 2012 sitcom about gay fathers, contradicts itself: While striving to normalize gay men as respectable parents, the show often mocks feminine gay men as unsuitable parents. I take this “effeminophobic” contradiction as a case study to extend queer theory’s critique of LGBTQ assimilation. I read The New Normal through a joint framework linking Lisa Duggan’s well-known critique of homonormativity with Zygmunt Bauman’s critique of Jewish cultural assimilation. This connection clarifies how the pitfalls of homonormative assimilation, like The New Normal’s self-stigmatizing humor, reflect a broader “trap of ambivalence” inherent to assimilation itself. In turn, this insight illustrates how queer theory can benefit from seeking explicitly Jewish perspectives on sexuality. This study also invites queer theory to analyze how sexual difference is co-structured with Jewish difference.