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TV Review: New Girl

jason stives checks out the new Zooey Deschanel sitcom …

A lot of people can’t seem to understand the fascination with actress Zooey Deschanel. I do — well, I at least believe I do. There is something inherently cute and charming about the actress/musician, and not in the “aren’t I cute?” kind of way. Since her film debut in Almost Famous some 12 years ago, she has showcased a variety of deadpan and sympathetic qualities in her performances, but somehow always comes out as everyone’s darling. She also is a pretty decent singer, first showcased in the holiday comedy Elf, and then in her ’60s folk throwback group, She & Him. Conquering both those mediums, a television show seems logical and prime to be successful, right?

New Girl, the show centered on Deschanel’s “adorkable” single girl Jess and the three macho males she lives with is an intentionally cheesy show. With a catchy theme tune, and enough catch-line set-ups to write a book, it’s very amusing to see something like this in the 21st century, at least without a laugh track. But New Girl succeeds in certain departments that prevent it from being a complete diatribe of rehashed sitcom goodies.

The set up is really basic: Jess recently just broke up with her boyfriend, after finding him cheating on her when she tries to surprise him at his apartment in the buff … okay it’s not that not basic, but pleasant at best. After these events, she answers a Craigslist ad for three guys looking for a fourth roommate … and hilarity ensues! You can’t help but be sarcastic in that approach, but it pays off on a very sardonic level. The three said roommates, bartender Nick (Jake Johnson), residential douchebag Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and jock stereotype Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) have reservations at the sudden girly revamp of their bachelor pad’s aura, but they are willing to sacrifice this to have her model friends come by, including her best friend Cece (Hannah Simone).

The rest of the episode has its formulaic premise. Jess tries to overcome her recent breakup by moving on and dating new guys, that is until one bad date leaves her in a depressed state. But in true sitcom fashion, in the end she’s saved by her roommates. You can’t get more simple than this, and maybe that’s why the episode and possibly the show overall feels a bit strained in its approach. However, there are some saving graces in some possible reoccurring ideas. I am very exciting at seeing the reoccurring idea of the douchebag jar (kind of like the swear jar, except you drop dough when you act like a bro) and where the hell it came from, as well as to see how many theme song variations of her life Jess can randomly concoct.

The cast is a mish-mosh of mediocrity. Deschanel plays up her feckless charm but also her inherently dorky demeanor thanks to some very awkward pick up lines and clothing choices. In a way, this is probably the best way to swallow her cuteness pill by having her be such a dweeb. The characters of Schmidt and Nick are pretty straightforward, acting as a tag team of brains and bronze, but without the overall muscle head appeal. Coach, on the other hand, plays up his inability to really connect with women well, showing how in adept he is to a females interest and Wayans plays this very well, showing his family’s comedic routes in his delivery and tone. Sadly, Wayans is only playing the character in the pilot due to commitments on another show (ABC’s Happy Endings), so that appeal may fade quickly depending on how well the recast works. There are only a couple moments with Cece in the pilot, so Cece seems to just be eye candy with a brain on screen from what I have seen.

Like any new show, that is a lot to build up in just the pilot so my overall feelings on the show will have to wait until I’m about five episodes deep into the season. In the meantime, New Girl proved to be very amusing, even if it was a very cheesy attempt to capitalize on what people already like about Zooey Deschanel — but the worry of her cuteness waning on the public greatly lingers.

Rating: 7 out of 10 (enjoyable)

All Photos Credit: FOX



  1. I really want to get into this but I found the beginning rather cringey. I don’t find Jess appealing at all, her quirkiness either isn’t written particularly well or Zooey has a hard time conveying it. I don’t know. Should I give it another chance?

    • I would say wait a couple episodes. I’m rather hesitant even as the review’s writer lol she’s a complete dork is really what Jess is all about, its almost sufficating to watch but I think Zooey Deschanel is aware of that and that contrasts well with the uber cheesy sitcom ways it conveys. We shall see

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