I boycotted New Girl for almost an entire year. I watched the pilot and found it average. Then, a few people told me in passing that I reminded them of Zooey Deschanel’s character on the show, which I took as a grave insult because of the fact that the show was tossing around the word “adorkable” like it was a hot potato. (And I was pretty sure they didn’t mean that I looked like her, which would be awesome. Whatever.) Anyway, time passed, the boycott continued. Then, I happened upon an episode of the Nerdist Writers Panel, a podcast featuring TV writers, with Liz Meriweather on the panel. After listening to her for about five minutes, I decided that we would have been best friends had we grown up together, and I immediately decided to give her new show a new shot. I’m quite pleased that I did.
New Girl is the first show I’ve watched more than 7 episodes of in a row since, uh, Dexter. Obviously not for the same reasons. It may have had something to do with it being a Saturday. But this show, somehow, gave me exactly what I had been looking for in a comedy. And, much to my surprise, I found myself identifying with Zooey’s Jess Day and being totally fine with it.
Jess starts out quirky, which is no surprise to Zooey followers, but over the course of the season she actually becomes a real-life person. I had no idea that Zooey could actually act, or even just play a character not exactly like herself, but she really can. There are notes of her older sister Emily’s quiet maturity, but Zooey has a different set of subtle skills that come out as the show progresses. The writers shed some of Jess’ quirkiness and lady-childishness, and by the end of the season we see why we should love her as much as her dude roommates do. She yells, she fights, she laughs, and she cares. “Adorkable” would be the last word I’d use to describe her, or anyone, who’s living her life without wearing sex appeal on her sleeves. It’s a refreshing change to have the “hot” girl be the best friend—not that Zooey isn’t gorgeous herself.
The best friend, the aforementioned hottie, is more than just a pretty face, too. Hannah Simone looks like the girl you want to hate, but it’s impossible to hate her CeCe. She experiences more believable ups and downs than what you might expect of a model—she falls for a nerdy guy, she thinks she might be pregnant, she seems grounded when doling out advice but can’t admit her own feelings out loud.
And the roommates, well, they’re the true heart of the show (even though Zooey plays the title character). Between Nick (Jake Johnson), Winston (Lamorne Morris), and Schmidt (Max Greenfield), Jess doesn’t realize how great she has it. I’d hang out with any one of these guys any day. I know they’re fictional. But I would. Morris’ Winston is probably the moral center, because he tends to have the sanest reactions to whatever insanity ensues. Johnson’s Nick is the most heartthrobby of the bunch, but in an unconventional way. He and Jess have a palpable tension, but it’s real and ambiguous and, at times, kind of beautiful. Even as each of them dates awesome guest-stars (Justin Long, Dermot Mulroney, and Ryan Kwanten for Jess; Lizzy Caplan and Mary Elizabeth Ellis for Nick), there’s always this floating will-they-won’t-they, but there are so many other great aspects to the show that it’s easy and fine to forget about. And by “other great aspects,” I mean Schmidt.
Max Greenfield is a revelation. This guy deserves every award he’s been nominated for, and then some. Of course, he’d be nothing without the brilliant writers who give him such great material, but they’d be nothing without his delivery. This guy says things like “Russian nesting doll situation” when referring to having sex with a possibly pregnant woman and “describe it to them as a battered highway cone” when referring to his own penile injury. I haven’t laughed this hard in awhile.