Aug 1, 2013

[TV] New Girl: Season 1

The tricky thing about writing television reviews is that there's just so much content for any one writer to deal with. TIME's Tuned In writer James Poniewozik goes as far as discussing individual episodes, but only notable ones given the number of shows out there. My approach has been to tackle them by season, but I still end up forgetting whether or not I've reviewed a show.

New Girl is one of those shows that seemingly came out of nowhere and in the end we started following it for the heck of it. I can't necessarily say that I'm a fan of the show - the humor is rather oddball, but not in a geeky way. Thus it comes across as being rather hit-or-miss from episode to episode.

But the show does have a bit of an appeal and at this point it has already run for two full seasons with a third season just around the corner. So here's me trying to catch up with posting my thoughts about the show, as strange as it is.

And just look at that poster image - all that yellow!

Synopsis: New Girl is a FOX TV sitcom  that debuted in 2011. The show was created by Elizabeth Meriwether and this first season was actually nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy along with a Best Actress - Television Series Musical or Comedy for Zooey Deschanel.

Zooey Deschanel is Zooey Deschanel is Zooey Deschanel - but in this case she's playing a character named Jess. She's a middle school teacher who breaks up with her boyfriend at the start of the show and ends up looking for a place to stay. One thing leads to another (in other words Craigslist) and she ends up moving in three bachelors - Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Coach (Damon Wayans). But Coach was only there for the pilot (and he had Happy Endings to deal with) so we end up with Winston (Lamorne Morris). This was easily explained by use of some trip to Latvia - details are not important at this point.

Nick and Winston were friends since childhood while Nick and Schmidt met each other in college. Jess is the completely new variable in the equation and a lot of the first season centers around the three guys getting used to having a woman in their apartment. And while it seems weird for them to have agreed to the deal at all, I suppose it may have been helpful that Jess's best friend Cece (Hannah Simone) is a fashion model. So yes, she has model friends.

At first the show wanted to focus on the whole single guys learning to deal with a girl in the apartment. And given Jess was going through a break-up, the first episode had them dealing with the non-stop crying, the sad chick flicks and other such things. But in time the show becomes more about just how quirkily chipper Jess is and how the guys deal with that. And that's a lot to deal with.

Jess is crazily positive and optimistic as a character. And you'd think that the role had been tailor-made for Zooey Deschanel. And at first one can't help but wonder just how realistic a character she is but over time she becomes oddly believable. Just accept that's who she is as a person and the rest of the show falls into place.

The guys are pretty crazy in their own right - as is expected of any good sitcom. Thus the way their respective brands of crazy end up working together is how things really work. Nick a slacker bartender. Schmidt is narcissist clean freak who thinks he's an amazing ladies man. And Winston is a basketball player who didn't quite reach his dreams  and is relatively normal when compared to the others - but only relatively. And the situations that all of them get into are a lot of fun.

I knew the show had a lot of potential from the start - I just wasn't sure if they knew what they wanted to do with the talent they had assembled. This first season had some amazingly brilliant moments and yet there were episodes that just left me scratching my head in confusion. And it's a little hard to even just summarize these episodes in a manner that doesn't make me sound a little off my rocker.

I did appreciate the introduction of the character Paul, as played by Justin Long. He comes in episode 6, "Thanksgiving", as one of Jess's co-teachers on whom she has a crush on. Of course the ridiculous things that happen while they try to put together their little Thanksgiving feast is what makes the episode quirky. But back to Paul, Long does an amazing job of essentially being a male version of Jess in terms of the oddities and thus he becomes a natural romantic interest - if they two can figure out how to talk to one another.

Look, just go for the show, try it out for a few episodes and see if you like it. Do not rely on the pilot along since Damon Wayans focuses on Happy Endings instead of this show, which may have been a bad idea in the context of the show's recent cancellation.

And try not to stare at Zooey's eyes too long - it's a trap!

New Girl is certainly a new kind of show and this first season had a lot of good to balance out the awkward moments of the writers trying to figure out what they wanted to do with everyone. This is not another incarnation of Friends at least. And this first season deserves a good 4 moments of Jess doing weird school teacher things for personal fun out of a possible 5.


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