Guest Review by Megora
To anyone familiar with Zooey Deschanel’s movie or music career, New Girl would at first appear to be purely a showcase for Deschanel’s quirkiness, especially with her signing up as producer from the get-go. But it soon turns out to be much more than that, mostly thanks to a talented cast that has great chemistry together (Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, Lamorne Morris, Hannah Simone, and recently Damon Wayans Jr.), and the leadership of New Girl’s show-runner Elizabeth Meriwether, who openly admits that a lot of the inspiration behind the show’s storylines comes from her own personal life. The show’s premise may seem corny, especially with Deschanel playing a character that is decidedly her, but good execution and surprisingly great performances by the relatively unknown men of the show raise it to a whole other level. If Zooey was initially the hook for me to see the show, it is definitely the entire group that keeps me coming back.
Instead of a New York café, a Los Angeles loft is where New Girl sets its scene and where Jessica “Jess” Day, just out of a long-term relationship, moves in with the three male occupants: “Schmidt”, the metrosexual ladies-man, still dealing with the insecurities of his former fat self; Winston Bishop, the former pro basketball player back from Latvia and trying to regain his bearings; and Nick Miller, the law school dropout, current bartender, wannabe writer, and resident cynic. A bonus addition also joins: Cece, Jess’s long-time best friend, a model, and almost her opposite in every way. The season basically served as an introduction to the characters, while building several plots around their professional and personal lives (Jess’s exploration of a new love life, Schmidt and Cece’s on-again off-again relationship, Nick’s cancer scare and him finally escaping the hold of his ex-girlfriend Caroline), and all the while drawing a realistic portrayal of modern-day people in their early thirties, struggling through love, friendships, careers, and growing up in general. But ultimately it all boiled down to the simple day-to-day interactions of the roommates, most notably between Jess and Nick, and that was largely due to their contradicting personalities: Jess always bubbly and emotional, Nick grouchy, untrusting, and simply angry about everything. This naturally led to lots of tension (some of it sexual) and lots of laughs. With a promising start, the outlook was bright for what the gang and their show-runner would do next.
Favorite Episode: Injured
Episode 15 of the season had the roommates bonding more than ever around Nick during his cancer scare, and with Jake Johnson going all out to expose a more vulnerable side to Nick himself as he evaluated his life so far.
Cece Crashes, The 23rd, The Landlord, Tomatoes, See Ya.
If season one had covered a lot of ground around multiple characters and numerous guest stars, season two was definitely Jess/Nick-centric. Not many shows address the sexual tension between their leads so early in the game (fear of the Moonlighting curse has often been cited as a factor), but Liz Meriwether’s gamble to do just that throughout this season seemed to have paid off. Nick and Jess’s growing attraction and the chemistry between the two actors, brought some hilarious, endearing, and downright sexy moments to the show (who knew a visit to the hardware store could act as an aphrodisiac?), thoroughly satisfying ‘Ness’ shippers and making all other storylines pale in comparison. The ‘will they, won’t they’ back and forth culminated in the season finale, when Nick and Jess ended the not-yet-started relationship between them, then minutes later decided to take a chance on it anyway, despite the complications of their living arrangements and the fact that they’re both generally “scaredy cats” when it comes to serious commitments. The last scene of them driving away would definitely have been the ‘happily ever after’ ending in any other movie, but this is a TV series, which means the repercussions of the night’s decisions would have to be dealt with in the morning.
Favorite Episode: Cooler
Nick in a women’s trench-coat, Jess as a ‘cooler’, Schmidt playing the Cece-card to get with a girl, a game of Strip True American, a melon-face Nick mannequin, getting stuck behind an iron curtain, climbing out a fourth-story window, and the kiss heard around the world. You can’t beat that.
Fluffer, Cabin, Pepperwood, Quick Hardening Caulk, Chicago, First Date, Virgins.
I won’t say it was the Moonlighting curse, but something definitely disrupted the flow of this show by the time the third season rolled in. I can’t tell if it was the disoriented feel behind Nick and Jess’s characters now that they were together, the downright “douchiness” of Schmidt after losing both his women and then just floundering about, or the exponentially-increasing craziness of Winston whom the writers still didn’t know what to do with. The only saving grace of the season was the return of Damon Wayans Jr.’s Coach (who had previously appeared in the pilot but had to depart because of his commitment to the now-cancelled Happy Endings), and is, as a Wayans, simply born to be funny. The season wrapped with Nick and Jess broken up, and what seemed like a full reset of the show (no cliffhangers, no pending storylines). This leaves plenty of room for Meriwether and her band of writers to reinvent themselves and bring the show back to its previous potential.
Favorite Episode: Prince
Words of wisdom, and a song, from Prince himself, need I say more?
The Box, Coach, Clavado En Un Bar, Birthday, Exes.