21
Sep
2011
New Girl: Season1, Episode 1
Pilot
Rachel
For the sake of full disclosure, I must begin by saying that I hate Zooey Deschanel. I hate her big doe eyes and her stupid bangs and her annoying, quirky image.

Then why, you may ask, am I writing this review? Because I didn't trust anyone else to see past the Zooey "I'm nerdy and quirky and totally loveable" Deschanel mystique. And also because sometimes I like to write mean things about people.

My major problem with New Girl is more than Deschanel, however. It's the fact that the entire show seems to revel in being a giant cliché. And not even a cliché spun in a fun and interesting way: just a straight up, completely recycled, borderline offensive story of a girl suffering from a breakup and boys being out of touch but redeemable.

The entire pilot is full of scenes of Deschanel's Jess crying and watching Dirty Dancing, establishing her firmly as "the girl" in this group of total bros. But then she can reference Lord of the Rings, so isn't she cute?! Wretch. And the three guys who she winds up living with are also pretty much staple character: there's Schmidt (Max Greenfield) the douche bag, Nick (Jake Johnson), the guy with the heart, and Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.), who is such a token character that he'll be switched out in all the episodes following the pilot. Nick claims he can't have emotion because he "has a penis." And the advice the boys give Jess in their quest to get her over her philandering ex is to talk in short sentences and basically be the complete opposite of herself to get laid. If she just plays a dumb, ditzy girl and lets her hipster dream girl bangs do the talking, she'll be fine.

While I may find Zooey Deschanel annoying, the one thing I can't accuse her of being is unattractive. So the premise established throughout the episode, that Jess is gross and unappealing, is terribly frustrating. It's like the whole "Tina Fey isn't pretty because she wears glasses" thing. I also wonder what city these people live in, that they can have such a beautiful, large, amazing apartment on their collective salaries as a bartender, a trainer, and some kind of unidentified office worker. But this is TV, so everything is just prettier. I guess I can accept that.

The boys redeem the show, for the most part. The delivery is still sort of stilted and unnatural, and they're trying too hard to establish their personalities as cookie-cutter stereotypes. But they're kind of adorable. I love the concept of the "douche-bag jar," which Schmidt must put a dollar in every time he says something awful. I hope the show spends more time on the chemistry between the boys rather than solely on Deschanel's quirky adorable-ness, because then I might actually watch it. I'll accept the focus on Jess in the pilot because hey, Deschanel is a movie star and this show is basically being sold as "Zooey Deschanel and the Pips," but the writers better start really fleshing out the supporting cast soon, and stop relying on Deschanel's charm, because its going to wear, and fast.

In the end, the boys prove to be caring, real people (sort of) who sweep in to save Jess when the idiot she's positioned as her rebound blows her off. Although I do take issue with their declaration when they arrive at the restaurant where Jess is left waiting, that they "care for her," considering the entire pilot has asked us to take that connection as implicit, simply because they live together. Otherwise there is very little interaction between them. And while I'm not sure such brochachos would express their feelings so quickly, I just love the idea that these boys would get so protective that they'd make complete fools of themselves and belt out "The Time of My Life" in a public place, just to make their friend smile.

But we knew that was going to happen. I mean, I feel like I basically know everything that is going to happen with this show. My biggest fear is that Nick will fall in love with Jess and everything will be ruined. Or that Schmidt will pull a Joey (a la Friends) and develop a crush on her, one that makes him a better, less douchey person, which would be utterly disappointing. I know the sitcom, especially the buddy comedy, is almost always based on a cornerstone of "will they, won't they?", but I hope this show doesn't pull out that card any time soon. If it shows up in the first season I'd say the series has no legs.


Grade: C+

The Little Things:

-"Pink wine makes me slutty." I would love this line if it was used ironically, but it becomes really annoying in light of all the other formulaic attributes that code Jess as "emotional mess girl"

-Maybe I just hate this premise because I'm a girl with a lot of guy friends, and I'd like to hope that they don't just consider me a pair of token ovaries in the sitcom of our lives. Right, guys? Right?

- Of course Jess is friends with models, and this drives the Douche-Bag guy to convince the other guys to accept her into their home. I don't look forward to future episodes further positioning Jess as "the ugly chick"

-"We are reverse Mormons. One man just isn't enough for her."

-The creators of this show could have picked a way better girl movie than Dirty Dancing

-Schmidt is actually adorable. I particularly love when he informs Jess that he would still totally sleep with her, because it fits perfectly with the (somewhat two-dimensional) character he establishes in this episode

Tags: New Girl
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