Oct 24, 2013

[TV] New Girl: Season 2

New Girl is one of those shows that I don't fully understand why I continue to watch, but I do. Maybe it's Zooey Deschanel being all quirky Zooey Deschanel. Perhaps it's the crazy situations that she and her three roommates constantly get into. Maybe it's something outside of all that. Who knows, right?

At the end of the day, New Girl is a charming show that has some great moments and other episodes that leave you wondering what the heck just happened. And the show's ability to dance on that line between the humorous and the peculiar is where a lot of the charm comes from.

The show has already started its third season, which is pretty impressive given how so many interesting shows are dying quick deaths in the harsh US network television wars. That may be part of my hesitation in saying that I genuinely like the show or something. Channels like Fox are notorious for killing shows that we love after all. Yes, you know exactly what I'm talking about, right?

On to business.

Synopsis: New Girl is a US sitcom created by Elizabeth Meriwether for Fox. The show has received a number of awards nominations and has won a few including the 2011 Critics' Choice Award for Most Exciting New Series and the 2012 Critics' Choice Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.

The first season went a long way towards establishing all the different characters. This second season naturally tries to expand these stories further and take them into strange new directions. And the season really kicks things off with Jess (Zooey Deschanel) losing her teaching job, which pretty much defined the rest of her life. This season also featured a lot of Nick (Jake Johnson) at the bar, going as far as introducing a recurring character "old Nick" (Raymond J. Barry), who claims to be an older, time-traveling version of Nick. And the show works since not only do we ever figure out if this is true - it doesn't really matter.

The bigger plot thread for this season really involves Schmidt (Max Greenfield), or perhaps the people around him. In the second half of season 1, he started a more than casual thing with Jess' best friend Cece (Hannah Simone) but ended it due to insecurity. In this season, he wanders around the dating scene again as Cece manages to get herself committed to an arranged marriage setup by her parents. This naturally sends Schmidt into a weird place and in some interesting relationships of his own. Winston (Lamorne Morris) has some stories too, but more often than not he feels like a filler character who compliments other stories.

Interesting episodes of the season include "Fluffer," which had the odd sub-plot of Schmidt pretending to one of Mitt Romney's sons in order to impress Republicans. "Parents" introduces Jess' divorced parents - as brilliantly portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner. And then "Cabin" puts the two couples (I'll let you watch the season to fill in those blanks) into close quarters, which of course has to lead to strange revelations.

One of the stranger episodes that remains one of my favorites for the season is "Parking Spot" - and yes, the central plot is all about Schmidt, Jess, Nick and Winston fighting over a parking spot near the apartment. It doesn't sound like much of a story, but such a seemingly simple situation becomes the center of a lot of weird drama, a lot of craziness and thus a lot of great comedy. Plus the fact that Nick actually owns a car was probably one of the bigger surprises of the season.

While it's nice that the show has taken steps to grow characters and develop longer term plots that span the season - we all like a sense of continuity. But at the same time the show understands that it can't strictly limit itself to typical sitcom stories. The show needs to be crazy and out there and totally out of the box and so it makes sense when the stories don't make sense from a real world perspective. We enjoy the show because of how crazy and seemingly impossible the characters can be even though on the surface there's no reason for them to be that way.

Do I support the whole Jess and Nick relationship? Of course I do! They've been alluding to this happening since the very beginning of the show. But the way they managed to navigate things to get to that inevitable point was actually pretty good. And even then it wasn't exactly perfect nor was it a show-killing moment ala Moonlighting. By no means will any of the relationships on this show become some of the best in television, but at least we'll enjoy the zany ride.

New Girl was able to embrace more of the oddball humor that made it work to begin with while making decent attempts at developing actual stories. But I really hope the show doesn't stop trying to be crazy - it totally works for me in that regard. And thus this season rates a good 4 Schmidt quirks while dating his way across the city out of a possible 5.

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