Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Show: New Girl

I watched the premiere of New Girl on FOX the other day and while there are definitely some kinks that still need to be worked out, I think I will keep watching.

The show stars Zooey Deschanel, of Yes Man, (500) Days of Summer and most recently, Your Highness. Honestly, I would watch her read the phone book for thirty minutes, so really it didn't matter if the show sucked or not... I would have still given it a chance.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the show did not suck, but there are definitely some flaws that need to be resolved. Hopefully the show will be around long enough for us to see if those flaws are corrected.

The series follows Jess (Deschanel) who is dealing with a bad breakup and has moved in with three men Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and "Coach" (Damon Wayans, Jr).

[Word has it that Wayans will be replaced in episode 2 because his show, Happy Endings, was picked up for another season. His character will be replaced by a character named Winston played by Lamorne Morris.]

The main problem seems to be that the characters are not yet three-dimensional, which is kind of funny considering that there was actually a joke about this subject in a flashback in the first episode. (Jess decides to role play with her boyfriend, but insists on creating a three-dimensional character to play.)

Both Schmidt and Coach are caricatures... the egotistical wanna-be ladies man (who borders on douche bag at times) and the jock with anger management issues. Of the three male roommates, only one is close to a fully-formed character, sort of. Nick, is the most normal - a bit of a slacker, still a bit mopey after having been dumped six months ago - but generally a regular human being.

Even Jess is not a completely developed character just yet - she's the loveable weirdo, the beautiful dork, but she hasn't completely shown us what she's really about other than singing songs about herself and watching Dirty Dancing. But yet, she's still extremely likeable. When she drones on about jeggings - much to Coach's confusion and ire - as her absentmindedly singes her hair with a curling iron, we should be as annoyed as he is... but we're not because she's just that adorable and likeable.

It is kind of jarring to see Deschanel playing such a timid, insecure and at times unpopular character, especially for those who are familiar with her film work. Deschanel is famous for playing quirky characters - but it's usually an irreverent, confident, kind of quirky, like Summer in (500) Days of Summer, Allison in Yes Man, Jovie in Elf, Trillian in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or even Cheryl in The Good Girl - so I'm not used to seeing her as vulnerable or even clueless.

But if anyone can make dorkiness sexy, it's Zooey Deschanel. Hopefully, Deschanel's likeability will keep the show on the air long enough for the supporting cast to grow into their characters and evolve into real human beings.

Some of the jokes were a bit hacky and unfunny and the situations somewhat contrived, but it is a sitcom on FOX so I suppose that's forgivable (for now). I did think the "douche bag" jar was a funny idea - whenever Schmdit says or does something douchey, the other roommates make him put a dollar in the douche bag jar. (I'm actually thinking of instating a similar policy at my boyfriend's apartment whenever his friends come over.) Although most of the show was only so-so, I'm definitely willing to give the writers that came up with that bit a chance to show me what else they've got.

There were a few genuine moments in the opening episode that gave me hope for the rest of the series. Like when Nick comes face to face with his ex or when the guys - even Schmidt - leave a big party to go see Jess, who has just been stood up on her first rebound date since her breakup. I actually laughed out loud when the three guys burst into song in a crowded restaurant to cheer her up. It may have been the worst rendition of "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" I ever heard, but it was actually funny and unexpected. Or it would have been unexpected if FOX hadn't spoiled it by including it in their preview commercials. Come on, FOX, when your show is only mediocre, don't give away all the best jokes before we even watch!

I will give New Girl a few more episodes before I make a final decision. I definitely see potential, but they haven't won me over just yet. But I'm hoping that they can.

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