“New Girl” is the newest buddy comedy, this time from FOX, and whether you enjoy it will hinge largely on whether or not you like Zooey Deschanel, as her patented off-beat stylings are a driving force behind the show.
Zooey stars as Jess, a girl who surprises her boyfriend Spencer with some afternoon delight only to find he’s having some afternoon delight with someone else. So she answers a Craigslist ad for three guys looking for a roommate – Schmidt (Max Greenfield), the wannabe-player; Nick (Jake Johnson), the recently-dumped bartender; and Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.), the trainer who struggles to communicate with women.
Don’t get too attached to Wayans, however. “Happy Endings” got unexpectedly renewed, so his character has been replaced by Lamorne Morris as the basketball-playing Winston. What’s “New Girl’s” loss is “Happy Endings” gain, as Wayans is quite funny on both shows.
Anyway, so Jess is coming off her break-up and moves in with these men, who immediately start taking her under their collective wings to help her get back on the horse.
What strikes us about the premiere episode the most is that Jess will definitely need to be fleshed out for us to be in 100%. She’s quirky and that’s great – as one character says about Jess – “you live on a sparkly rainbow, drive a unicorn around and just sing all the time.”
But she also comes across as kind of stupid sometimes. She burns her hair as she just sits there talking to one of her roommates with the curling iron in her hair – long past the moment where we started thinking, “Take that out, you’re going to burn yourself. Why isn’t her hair smoking yet?” That actually distracted us in the scene. And there are several other moments like that.
Jess is quirky, not dumb. The quirkiest people we know are oftentimes the smartest and there is a way to write and portray the character as off-beat without making her seem ditzy, which we don’t think the show is going for with Jess.
With the other characters, we like the groundwork they’ve laid. Schmidt may be a bit absurd, but he’s also exactly like 100 guys we actually know in life and the fact that his friends call him on his tool-ness (by making him put money in the d-bag jar) is great.
Nick, the heartbroken bartender, is actually the most well-developed and nuanced character of the premiere. There was a wonderful tiny glimmer of a spark between Nick and Jess and hopefully the show explores their friendship and possibly a slow burn towards something romantic in the distant future (since, if the show is successful, they should not jump the gun on that relationship).
The only problem we had other than Jess being a bit unbelievable at times with her idiocy was the cheesy ending (hint: it involves a public serenade). But even that wasn’t bad because the three guys really sold it.
Overall, it’s a strong first episode and we will definitely keep watching. It seems like the type of show that maybe needs three or four episodes to really judge it, particularly in light of Wayans leaving and Morris coming into the mix.
But Zooey Deschanel is utterly charming and can handle the comedy. She gave some deliveries that had us laughing very hard. It will be fun to watch the character deepen and grow as the show continues.
“New Girl” premieres Tuesday night, Sept. 20 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.