Murphy's Lawlessness

For better and worse, a superproducer deals in chaos

When a TV creator attains superproducer status, with several hits at once, it's usually by offering a consistent product. Dick Wolf (Law & Order) likened his cop shows to a brand, like Campbell's soup. Shonda Rhimes (Grey's Anatomy) gives us emotional workplace dramas. Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy), cartoon animals making penis jokes.

Not so Ryan Murphy. He has three thriving shows on air, each different in genre and subject matter. His flagship, Glee, on Fox, is a high school musical about dreams, outcasts and romance. The New Normal, which debuted in September on NBC, is a sitcom about a gay couple...

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