New Shows, New City: New Girl S01 E01

27 August 2011

Perpetual gamine Zooey Deschanel and housemates

Loyal readers (yes, all five of you), here’s the skinny:

Two weeks ago your intrepid blog-writer moved to Los Angeles, city of angels, shattered dreams, misplaced hope, etc. This move has placed me somewhat closer to the people responsible for the media I so dearly love to criticize. So my urge to eviscerate is dampened slightly by the vague threat of being black-listed. But never fear! I will remain a (self-) righteous arbiter of truth and beauty! Specifically the truth and beauty of the new FOX sitcom New Girl.

There are certain perks to be had as a member of the, ahem, film school elite, especially when one is paying the same amount in tuition that a family in Baltimore city might make in a year. (Can someone make me a LOLcat that reads, “Privlij! I haz it!”? Thanks.) These perks take the form of unpaid internships, grueling networking, and, of course, free screenings of yet-to-be-released films and television shows.

Tonight I got to see the pilot episode of New Girl, which officially premieres on FOX in September. And you know what? It didn’t suck. It was light and goofy, but generally pretty fun.

Now here’s where the truth n beauty come in: Impish Zooey D steals every scene she’s in with those big doe eyes that make me think she made an unholy deal with an anime character. An anime character who now drips enormous sweat-tears from beady rat eyes. So yeah, Zooey is pretty¬† beautiful, despite the thick, plastic frame glasses she wears to better impersonate an awkward girl. Oh honey, you’re never going to be the awkward girl, no matter how much bad dancing you do, or how many of your botched smiles turn into grimaces. But it’s just so darn cute to watch you try! (Incidentally, I am still undecided as to whether Liz Meriwether is mocking this ridiculous trope, or whether she genuinely thinks Zooey looks like a homely weirdo just because of some Henry Kissinger specs. Please, dear god, let it be the former.)

And the truth? Well, I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that the premise of New Girl bears some similarity to my living situation here in sunny, flesh-blistering California. You see, Zooey (aka Jess) lives with three male roommates after a cruel cucqueaning by her fashion model boyfriend (Yeah, you like that one?). And I, too, live with three male roommates, though I seem to have avoided the tense situations that arise when one is in possession of a model boyfriend. Darn!

This fictional situation, and my real one, raise some interesting questions about fabricating narrative. The premise of New Girl sounds equally hackneyed and absurd, and yet, it could happen to anyone. With an adorable performance by Zooey Deschanel (or should I say “Adorkable,” like the text on the t-shirt I got in my first swag bag? Oh geez. It’s happening.), we can see how an unusual housing situation, coupled with a relatable but simultaneously pathetic main character, becomes the premise for a situational comedy. Personal experiences are magnified and details are invented, but the resulting narrative still bears a passing resemblance to identifiable events. This strategy ensures that even when we laugh at Zooey/Jess’s foibles, we can see a little of ourselves in her.

I’d wager New Girl will last at least a full season, but I am hoping for some healthy competition from Two Broke Girls and Whitney. But regular readers know how I feel about any show of this ilk: if the protagonists are women, and the show itself is mildly watchable, then I completely support these endeavors. Now if we could only see some non-white actresses in these roles. We’ll revisit the issue in ten years. Surely there will be more to discuss by that time (Unless there isn’t, in which case I will quit Hollywood without so much as a backward glance or an Emmy nom.) Until then, stay tuned!