New Girl on the Comedy Block

Fox’s
New Girl is a single-camera comedy starring Zooey Deschanel as Jess, a rather
odd woman who is forced to move in with three guys (all with various strange quirks) due to a bad break-up with your run-of-the-mill
“a-hole who never deserved such a nice girl.” The show follows Jess as
she attempts to navigate through her new life. Bored already? I was too.

Despite
the underwhelming premise, I gave the pilot a try when it aired last fall. I
was shocked to realize it was worse than I had anticipated. The writing was
unbearably cheesy and the show’s core relationships were very unbelievable. It
erred far too much on the absurd and obnoxious side. I, as a viewer, am never going
to believe that three seemingly stereotypical guys would invite a girl to live
with them who told them that she had just gone through a rough breakup and
would thus “probably be watching Dirty Dancing like six or seven times…
a day,” and no number of model friends Jess might have is going to change
this. Just… no, Fox, no.

The
rest of the pilot passes in much the same vein; it is very much what it
advertised itself as: stereotypically dreamy, ditzy girl moves in with
stereotypically horny, dude-ish guys, and “battle of the sexes” antics
ensue! It was justifiably ripped apart by the more reputable critics, and
television watchers with more discerning/critically acclaimed palates wouldn’t
go near it.

If
you are one of those people, I would like you to give it another chance. It’s
actually very good now, I promise!

Jess
is still rather bizarre and dreamy, but it’s no longer to a pathetic extent.
It’s not that they reeled the character in, exactly, but rather gave this
aspect of her personality more purpose and made her lines much more genuinely
funny instead of artificial and forced like they were in the pilot.

For
instance, in the most recent episode that aired, she uses her natural niceness
to get otherwise unhelpful people to do things for her. Also, the writers
wisely chose to highlight her profession more in later episodes (she’s a
kindergarten teacher) which served to lend a fair amount of credibility to such
a sunny character surviving in the “real world,” which was one of my major
issues with the first few episodes. More focus on her friendship with the very
likable, confident Cece, one of Jess’s aforementioned “model friends,” was a definite improvement. 

If
you’re still not convinced, watch for Jess’s roommates, who, over the course of
the later half of the season, have shown themselves to be just as insane as she
is.

The
aggressively feminine and idiotic Schmidt is by far the show’s most enjoyable
character. He is the reason for one of the show’s funniest running gags, a
“Douchbag Jar” into which Schmidt must put between five and fifty dollars
every time he says something like “Oh Jess, I just found a Groupon for
hypnosis lessons. Think about what you could do with that. Sex stuff,” or
“Guys, has anyone seen my good peacoat?” His character is kept from
being obnoxious by his sheer ineffectiveness with anyone of the opposite sex,
and his desperation is rendered charming by how much he wants the people
around him to like him.

Nick
and Winston, the other two roommates, are also dramatically improved upon from
the pilot, rounding out what has become a very watchable and engaging show.

Aside
from Episode 8, which was given the unfortunate name “Bad in Bed” and
is terrible, episodes dating from Episode 3, “Wedding,” have all been
great and have even elicited more laughs from me than some of my favorite NBC
comedies.

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