Zooey Deschanel has made a career for herself by being the “dream” girl to main characters in films like Days of Summer, Elf, Gigantic, etc. But in her new sitcom New Girl, the opposite is true, yet her trademark quirkiness and lovability are still intact.
Most people’s enjoyment of New Girl will depend how much they can stand of the twee, awkward Deschanel in her role as Jessica Day. Day has recently found her boyfriend cheating on her, and since everyone she lives with and interacts with is a model, she decides to move into an apartment with three guys. While this may seem like most guys’ dream, Day spends most of the day crying on the couch watching Dirty Dancing seven or eight times in a row and creating jingles for herself. They realize that model parties happening at their house is seeming less and less like an actual possibility.
After a week, the three guys decide they can’t take it anymore. Her roommates include Nick (Jake M. Johnson), a bartender still hung up on his ex from six months ago, Schmidt (Max Greenfield), for whom the other roommates have created a “douchebag jar”, which he must give a dollar to every time he says something douchey (it happens a lot), and Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.), who as his name suggests in a personal coach.
The three guys decide to take Day out to find a rebound guy, while Coach and Schmidt bug Nick to call his ex in order to get them into a cowboy party. The final act of the episode plays out fairly predictably, with a heartwarming finish that makes the gang closer than they started, but that’s to be expected in a pilot.
In the first episode, it seems fairly obvious where the show seems to be heading. With the both lovelorn Jessica and Nick bonding over their recent break-ups, it seems likely this is what the first season will start heading towards. Hopefully the show won’t degrade into the idea that a woman needs a man to be happy. That idea has been done in way too many movies and sitcoms to be effective for such an interesting actress as Deschanel.
Which brings to mind the style of the show. New Girl looks and feels like a romantic comedy. It isn’t a bad thing, but hopefully the show won’t go down a stereotypical rom-com path.
The writing is surprisingly good here and self-aware, which leads to some great jokes, like the “douchebag jar” and Jessica’s personal songs she sings during awkward moments. The pilot has some truly funny moments, like Jessica’s attempts to hit on a guy by using the line “hey sailor!” Plus the pilot uses a Scrubs-like style of showing past events, while never overdoing it, like say Scrubs did.
New Girl’s pilot episode is a bright spot in the lineup of new fall shows. It falls into the realm of bright, sunny comedies that have become popular recently like Modern Family and Glee. Though the show is almost too peppy and happy, even compared to those shows, the great writing and excellent cast chemistry, especially Deschanel’s willingness to go all out in her awkwardness, makes this pilot episode a nice surprise for the new fall season. Hopefully it will keep up its joyful disposition without falling into cliché.