Cheers, To The New Girl

The rest of the world has taken notice of the nWo-like invasion of an indie-rock darling: Zooey Deschanel. Everywhere I look, I see people who otherwise wouldn’t have batted an eye fall madly in love with her. Thankfully Cracked has this covered so I don’t need to explain myself. But for the record, I was seriously considering writing about her before those guys beat me to it. And for that I will have my revenge one day.

One day.

But until that day, I’ve got New Girl! Close friends of mine know how much of a Zooey D fanboy I am, and I know for a fact I’m not the only one. Just over a week ago, I was walking down 34th street with my cousins to the 2011 WWE Survivor Series pay-per-view in Madison Square Garden (which I wrote about here). The topic of Zooey came up. “I don’t know what it is about her,” my cousin said as we passed by a few garbage cans which I’m sure contained a dead body. “But… something about her just makes her so fucking hot.”

“Mmm. Yeah. Like that, right there.”

Kristi Harrison from Cracked finely pointed out why Zooey has gotten so popular, and it’s not like it’s a bad thing. In my opinion she’s a legitimately talented girl who doesn’t oversell her sexuality and promotes a deviated type of attractiveness, different from the Hollywood standard. We need more public celebrities like her. She’s a great singer, an a great actress, and just seems like a great person to have a conversation with. She’s… great, and is everyone’s girl next door. It’s not hard to see why I and tens of thousands of other guys (and girls!) are big fans.

This past summer, her legions were excited for the premiere of New Girl. It was one of the most hotly anticipated programs in the fall television line-up, and upon its premiere it didn’t disappoint. In fact, it surpassed expectations, to the tune of 10.1 million people. The show continued to perform strong, getting the ratings it wanted until it entered a brief hiatus due to several MLB games (and by that I mean the World Series). But that’s okay, because the few episodes we got were awesome and hooked us in successfully, surpassing all expectations, right? Right?

No. They didn’t.

In my opinion, anyway.

Maybe I needed an adjustment period, but the first few weeks of New Girl and a little after its hiatus, the show was absolutely terrible. I wanted to quit. The pilot episode looked great in the extended previews, but the episode itself was rocky and I didn’t feel like there was any chemistry. I understand it’s just the pilot, no show really resembles its pilot episode after awhile. I was careful not to judge too quickly, but I couldn’t help feel just a little bit let down.

I rewatched it maybe two more times until I finally felt a little comfortable. Maybe several years of Kevin Smith and South Park tarnished what I thought was supposed to be comedy, and it took a little bit of 30 Rock to fix that. New Girl‘s comedy is certainly different, relying more on absurd character quirks and ironic one-liners… or just Zooey Deschanel. And that was the initial problem.

You kind of have to expect it, but much of the show’s comedy first relied on Zooey Deschanel being Zooey Deschanel. And not Zooey the person, the real woman who unfortunately went through a divorce recently, but Zooey the character, whom we’ve cultivated out of the characters she’s chosen to play in her movies. The manic pixie dream girl.

The comedy relied on this hot chick who is just way too absurd to be, I don’t know, a person. Much of the promotional material relied so much on her being awkward and weird, when in the real world her roommates would have been trying to get into her pants. What, move in with us? Sure! Just drink this first, please.

Maybe it’s just because I’m a guy but even while watching the previews I had to suspend my disbelief. What would one girl be doing in an apartment with three guys and they’re not trying to sleep with her? Surely that would be mentioned, and surely one of them will try to. None of these happened. Rather, the show just lampshaded the situation, and made no grand effort to subvert it. It just became a fact: a hot chick is rooming with three single guys. Get over it. And that’s a little hard to swallow.

Prior to the hiatus, there were three episodes that aired: the pilot, “Kryptonite,” and “Wedding.”

“Kryptonite” had the unfortunate challenge of introducing a brand new character, Winston. Damon Wayans, Jr. was called back for the previously cancelled Happy Endings and thus could not fulfill his role in New Girl. This was disappointing on several levels. For one, I liked Coach. He had a problem introduced in the pilot that could have been a very entertaining character arc throughout the season. To abruptly drop his character after one episode was upsetting. Second, while Winston is starting to grow on me, the challenge of trying to get used to a new character so suddenly while we’re all still trying to get to know who Jess is, was burdensome. All of this while still trying to get used to the style of comedy.

“Wedding,” in my opinion, was the weakest episode of the season thus far. There’s nothing in particular that I can put my finger on but the episode was weak in its comedy and failed to make me laugh. Nick’s breakdown was probably the only highlight of the episode, and even then the rest of the episode was a muddle to get through.

With the hiatus occurring so fast just after the pilot, the episodes that aired left a really sour taste in my mouth. I was saddened that the show didn’t live up to my expectations. It was yet another lesson in having low reservations over a product, so as to not be disappointed or be blown away depending on the product’s result. But, still! This was Zooey Deschanel! She can do no wrong! She tweeted to me once! She’s flawless!

Okay, so truthfully no one is flawless. But these few under performing episodes reminded me of another show I had to get over a “flawed hump” with.

Parks & Recreation is up in my personal list as one of the funniest shows on television, but it wasn’t always like that. The entire first season was rough, and the Leslie Knope character reminded me way, way too much of Michael Scott, except she possessed few qualities that made you root for her. By the second season, thankfully, she became much more endearing and her flaws were part of her charm. In addition, the other characters are a treat and have achieved a sort of cult status on their own, namely Ron Swanson.

Knowing that I shouldn’t give up too easily, I decided to keep the New Girl on my DVR. And I’m happy I did.

“Naked” was relentlessly funny, and I never would have thought Jess failing to say “penis” would be a great moment. The other characters have also shown some development, Winston becoming a serviceable replacement for the once-promising Coach, and Schmidt taking the role of the goof (often switched with Jess) while simultaneously subverting its conventions. Cece is starting to form her own as opposed to just a supporting character and I really hope her role expands as the show continues. While it’s obvious Nick and Jess will eventually become an item, it’s actually interesting to see it develop rather than it be a surprise that may just happen. I look forward to the build much more than the payoff.

Seriously, if this doesn’t happen then I give up. Everything.

The other episodes that have aired since have kept the pace up and I’m happy to say that New Girl finally managed to redeem itself… kind of.

It’s important to note that the season is far from over. The show has been renewed for a second season and I’m quite excited. But much like how it was short-sighted to judge the show negatively after only three episodes, it’s also a bad idea to praise it after only a few more. I can’t tell how good the show truly is until the season is over, so for that I will hold off final judgement.

So why am I saying cheers to the show already? For relief, really.

After the three episodes before the hiatus, I was ready to tap out. I was so excited for the show and to be disappointed for those seven weeks was upsetting. But, somehow, I decided to stick it out and I’m very happy to say I did. The show is now something I look forward to watching every week as opposed to dreading.

Is it too early to start throwing a parade? Of course. There’s still several episodes left and this can go very, very badly. But there is something to celebrate in redemption, in keeping your promise. Here, pure fun was promised and I’m starting to feel like the long wait during those weary summer days was worth it.

Congratulations, New Girl. You’ve kept a viewer. And if anyone is (still) reading this and is considering watching the show, do so! Apparently I’m in the minority that the first half of the season wasn’t up to par.

Just goes to show what I know.

(I’m a college student, I know everything.)

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