After barely staying awake for Up All Night, declining to take the Free Agents route, and being One Bored Viewer of Two Broke Girls, I was beginning to despair of finding a new comedy worthy of a second viewing.
Then along comes New Girl, and hope is renewed. A good pilot does not a good series make, but New Girl has the best hope of being a PVR-worthy series so far this season, and that is the best compliment I can give a TV show.
New Girl stars Zooey Deschanel as slightly nerdy, totally quirky Jessica, who, following a very unpleasant but quite funny breakup with her cheating boyfriend, finds refuge with a new bunch of roommates — three guys.
The guys are, well, pretty average, realistic guys, at least as far as TV goes. None of the three is the standard lay-about, 20-something slacker that men are so often portrayed as being. (See: the only male presence on Two Broke Girls.) They take a shine to Jessica, and why not? As played by Deschanel, she’s freakin’ adorable; long, unkempt hair, nerdy glasses, a slight gawkiness, total lack of fashion sense, and a disturbing habit of singing in public (she even makes up her own theme song).
The Jessica character is a delicate balancing act. If she’s too pretty, the whole thing would seem contrived and unbelievable. If she goes from quirky to annoying, the show is doomed. But, based on the pilot, Deschanel is darn near perfect.
While Deschanel is key to the success of New Girl, the decision to make her roommates normal guys who take a big brotherly attitude to their new roomie is inspired. If New Girl has been, say, a CBS comedy, the dialogue would have been littered with puerile sexual humor and a braying laugh track. But New Girl is on Fox (when did Fox become more sophisticated than CBS?), a network that is not afraid to break the sitcom mold. The guys like her as a girl friend, not a girlfriend. That could change of course (I hope not), but for now, it’s refreshing.
New Girl may have achieved the near impossible — it’s a sitcom with a female lead that appeals to men. Two Broke Girls has zero appeal to half the population, and I suspect that Whitney will do no better. But I can see that guys would like New Girl. Hard-core feminists, however, may not take kindly to her. Our heroine is not a brash, loud, or pushy ‘independent woman’. She’s needy, vulnerable and sweet, which will certainly irk a number of women.
But no matter. I like the New Girl. The show was extremely funny, with appealing characters. It debuted to 10 million viewers, the highest debut audience for a Fox show in a decade. It’s a perfect companion piece to Raising Hope, which began with a typically demented and enjoyable outing. Tuesday has been a bad night for TV for some time, but now at least there is hope for a solid hour of quality comedy.