In FOX’s new comedy NEW GIRL, Zooey Deschanel is reason enough to watch even if she weren’t absolutely adorable, endearing and hilarious. It is premiering Tuesdays at 9:00 pm and facing some difficult competition being up against Biggest Loser, NCIS, and the Dancing With the Stars results show. But at least NEW GIRL offers viewers a chance to get away from reality shows and procedurals, therefore I certainly hope it can grab a good chunk of audience.
Zooey plays Jess Day, a young woman who, after discovering her long-term boyfriend is cheating on her, moves into a loft apartment with three male roommates — Nick [Jake Johnson], the prickly bartender who is still pining after his ex; Schmidt [Max Greenfield], the womanizer who works in an office full of ladies; and Coach [Damon Wayans, Jr.], an intense personal trainer. The guys try to help Jess get back on her feet and back into the dating world. Overall, I found NEW GIRL to be delightful, fresh, funny, and yes, adorable.
The odd mix of roommates of the opposite sex is not new in sitcoms. Too often we expect such pairings to result in the standard jokes involving gender differences with loads of the unrequited sexual tension, but NEW GIRL avoids these cliches for the most part. Doing so results in a smart comedy since it focuses on the characters and what makes them uniquely funny rather than relying on throwing uninteresting characters in silly situations.
We begin with Jess arriving home early to surprise her boyfriend with some sexy and adorably funny role-playing, only to discover that he is cheating on her. This begins her quest for new living arrangements and she admits to being tired of living with her best friend, who is a model – and whose friends are all models. She responds to an ad thinking it was written by girls rather than guys, and this leads to the interview by the three bachelors living in a beautiful, spacious, and uncharacteristically tidy loft. She explains that she is a teacher who brings work home and is currently an emotional wreck. This situation opens up all those possibilities of gender jokes as the three guys try to decide whether to accept her as a roomie, based on real merits rather than superficial ones… you know, like the fact that all her girlfriends are models !
If Jess has her quirks, then the guys have theirs. They even have their own special version of the ‘nickel jar’ where a nickel would be added every time a swear word is used. This time the jar accepts dollar bills for certain behavior, but I won’t spoil the fun by telling what it is. I only wonder who gets to keep it all once the jar quickly fills up!
In order to get over her break-up, Jess spends a lot of her extra time watching “Dirty Dancing” and crying uncontrollably. I can certainly relate to that, although my choice would probably be “Ghost” if I were in her situation. And she certainly has her own personal and unusual traits – like randomly singing to herself about things taking place at that moment and making up her own lyrics.
Jess is quirky, vulnerable, a bit nerdy – complete with Lord of The Rings references – and yes totally adorable. (Sorry, I know I’ve used the word before, but I can’t help it) One would wonder how such a pretty girl would have difficulty finding a date. Yet, it is her quirkiness that becomes the stumbling block and the thing that pulls at our heartstrings when it is taken advantage of by an apparently nice guy who turn out to be a creep. Further touching our heart is seeing her reluctant new roomies supporting her and rallying to her side.
There were just a few times when NEW GIRL seemed to be trying a bit too hard in the comedy department resulting in some uncomfortable attempts. In contrast, there were really great moments when it dropped the comedy front and allowed us to see into the hearts of the characters, showing us that this show does indeed have substance. And rather than having the comedy morph into three guys chasing after their pretty female roommate (complete with crude jokes), we get the sense that the somewhat naïve Jess has just found three guys who will become her good friends and who will have her back, like three older brothers, as she tries to get back into the dating game and life in general. And all of it was not only very enjoyable but also…. adorable!