Appellate Judge Mac McEntire makes up theme songs for himself all the time.
Jess: "Who's that girl? It's Jess!"
Sitcoms typically come ready-made in certain types. There's the marriage/family sitcom, the workplace sitcom, the high school sitcom, and, in this case, the roommates sitcom. New Girl takes the formula more or less established by The Odd Couple and/or Three's Company, putting its own spin on it, with three typical guys and one outrageous woman under one roof.
Facts of the Case
Jess (Zooey Deschanel, (500) Days of Summer) recently experienced a bad breakup, and needs a new place to live. Three guys, who've never had a female roommate, give her the fourth room in their loft. Nick (Jake Johnson, Safety Not Guaranteed) is a bartender also smarting from a bad breakup. Schmidt (Max Greenfield, Veronica Mars) is a wannabe ladies' man. Wintson (Lamorne Morris, Sex Love and Lies) just returned home from playing pro basketball in Europe and now has no job prospects. Together with her model friend Cece (Hannah Simone, WCG Ultimate Gamer), Jess gets involved with all aspects of the guys' lives, with unpredictable results.
This episode list is on the rebound:
• "Cece Crashes"
• "Bad in Bed"
• "The 23rd"
• "The Story of the 50"
• "Jess and Julia"
• "The Landlord"
• "Valentine's Day"
• "Fancyman" Parts One and Two
• "See Ya"
The phrase "manic pixie dream girl" keeps being used in articles and reviews of this show. First, I love that a phrase originating from anime fans has been picked up by the mainstream media thanks to this. Second, it's a pretty fair descriptor for the Jess character, whom the entire show revolves around. Jess not only looks like a giggly, hyperactive anime girl, but she acts a lot like one too. She doesn't have magic powers and hasn't been trained in martial arts since birth (that we know of), but she has that in-your-face style of comedy, seen in some of the wackier animes.
How much you enjoy this show will depend on whether you can get behind Jess as a character. If you love how she's quirky and flighty and adorable, then you'll be all about this show. If it drives you up the wall how she's quirky and flighty and adorable, then New Girl is not the show for you. As for me, I'm somewhere in the middle. I found Jess's goofball antics mostly amusing, but there were plenty of times I wished she would tone it down a little. Basically, Jess has no off button. Her bubbly attitude, her well-meaning meddling, her perky insecurities—all this is front and center throughout the series.
As for the roommates, Nick is the everyman, as most of his humor comes from reacting to crazy goings-on in the apartment around him. Schmidt begins the series as a wannabe ladies' man, with all sorts of "playa" dialogue, but over time, he becomes the weird one among the group. He's the second most outrageous character after Jess, and you never know what completely nutty thing is going to come out of his mouth. Winston is not as well defined as the others. Like Nick, his best lines often come from him reacting to the shenanigans of the week.
New Girl puts a bit emphasis on relationships. The characters are all broken goods in some way. Jess, Nick, and Schmidt are all reeling from failed relationships and difficult breakups. They find an unofficial support group among their roommates. Whenever a romance crashes and burns, these folks have each other to help them get through the aftermath. Winston is a slightly different case, as his "breakup" was leaving a lucrative athletic career, and stuck with no work prospects on the horizon. Just as the characters long for love in their life, they also long for a better financial situation, and there are a few episodes dealing with money, or lack thereof.
New Girl takes place in a heightened reality, with everyone living in an impossibly large and ridiculously overfurnished apartment that could only exist on television. As such, the vivid, if sometimes garish, colors really pop on DVD, with a lot of detail and brightness. Sound is deceptively good, mostly decent but occasionally really impressing with the surround effects, most notably during the hand bell scenes in the episode "Bells."
Three episodes get commentaries, which are light and flighty, not unlike the show itself. There are two featurettes, one on the making of an episode from beginning to end, and one on the show's fashions. There is also audition footage, deleted and extended scenes, and a gag reel.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
In the pilot, instead of Winston, there was another roommate, Coach, played by Damon Wayans Jr. (Happy Endings). A line or two of dialogue in the second episode conveniently resolves the classic TV "pilot versus series" problem, establishing that Coach has moved out and Winston has moved in. You could argue that they're the same character at heart, except that Wayans played Coach with a slight deadpan approach to the jokes, which offered a nice balance with the rest of the cast. Nothing against Lamorne Morris, who is fine as Winston, but I can't help but wonder what might have been.
If you know anything about New Girl, chances are you've already decided whether it's the show for you. If you're looking for a quirky girly show about a quirky girl who does quirky girly things, then you should know this is a good example of a quirky girly show about a quirky girl who does quirky girly things.
Who's that girl? She's not guilty.
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