“New Girl”: Please Be My Best Friend, Zooey Deschanel? by Matilda Dixon-Smith

Posted on October 5, 2011

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This title is perhaps slightly misleading because Zooey Deschanel would be the kind of best friend you secretly loathe because she’s about a trillion times cooler/prettier/quirkier than you.

LOOK AT HER.

That’s basically the entire conceit of New Girl.

Deschanel (and her GIANT, GIANT EYES) is Jessica Day, a dorky but sweet teacher who is looking for a new apartment after walking in on her boyfriend getting down with another lass in her old one. Jess answers an ad on Craig’s List posted by three guys for their rad converted-loft-type apartment. The guys are classic blockheads with a collective heart o’ gold. There’s “Coach” (don’t actually know his real name…), a trainer who’s only method of communication with women is yelling at them (which is evidenced in a fantastic duologue between him and Jess about jeggings); Schmidt, a faux-ladies man who takes his shirt off for no reason and who often has to monetarily contribute to the house’s “douchebag jar” (formerly the slightly devestating Officer Leo from Veronica Mars); and Nick, probably the sweetest blockhead with the biggest, fattest, heaviest heart o’ gold (who mopes around after his ex-girlfriend and who—calling it now—will probably end up having a thing for Jess). Despite Jess’s warning that she’s going to be soothing her broken heart by watching Dirty Dancing six or seven times a day, the lads allow her to move in.

This picture pretty much says it all…

They then set about lifting Jess out of her post-break-up funk. They get her back on the dating scene, instruct her on when to shave her legs (“front and backs”), cheer her up, and adorably come to her rescue when things go awry. She, in turn, brightens their lives with her endearing quirkiness.

Editor’s Note: On a slight tangent, I’m confused as to why “Coach” (Damon Wayans Jr.) is only billed to appear in the pilot. Will they replace him with a new actor, or will this character simply cease to exist?

In terms of the fall line-up, there’s a lot of new stuff and most of it feels way too familiar: Ringer is just non-supernatural (read = lamer) Buffy for grown-ups, Secret Circle is Vampire Diaries for those who are over bloodsuckers, and 2 Broke Girls, despite starring the inimitable Kat Dennings, has a damn laugh track and, thus, is EVERY UGH SIT-COM EVER. New Girl is the first thing I’ve watched in the past two weeks that has an air of freshness about it, and that’s mainly down to Deschanel. Honestly, to enjoy this show at all, you’ve got to be a fan of her‘adorkable’-ness (i.e. you should’ve LOVED the crap out of her performance in (500) Days of Summer). Jess thinks wearing overalls on a date is a fine idea, the best stripper name she can come up with is “Rebecca Johnson”, and she likes to make up songs on the spot – her self-designated theme tune is “Who’s that girl? It’s Jess!”  The show is partly soft porn for pseudo-indie girls who will watch and wish they could be as awesome as her. 

This pilot was full of great ideas; it was fast-paced, funny and charming. There’s no dwelling on overdone jokes or stagnant lines here, everything moves like lightning and the show benefits from that. What I didn’t like so much was the “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus” thing they’ve got going on (which I think might actually be slightly unintentional). That having been said, the show has a lot of conventional sit-com trappings, yet it is never bound by them, and though the characters have elements of cliché in their construction, they are ultimately surprising.

If you’re going to watch anything from the new fall line up, make it New Girl. Zooey Deschanel’s GIANT, GIANT EYES command you.

What did you think of New Girl? Are you a Zooey Lover or a Zooey Hater? To the Comments!!

Matilda Dixon-Smith is You’re Dripping Egg’s Editor-in-chief and co-creator. For more of Matilda’s views on TV, check out Texas Fo’ever: “Friday Night Lights” and Beating the…Cold: The Best and Worst of Summer Ratings TV

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Posted in: Television