New show: New Girl

Kirsty Harrison

6th January 2012

New Girl starts tonight on Channel 4 and it's really quite funny. When I was at university I shared a house with three guys. It was not funny. It smelled bad and no one sang any theme songs. At all.

So, Zooey Deschanel. She's quite the polarising figure, isn't she boys and girls? With her big eyes, floaty dresses and penchant for ukuleles, she's a quirky and unique snowflake and that pisses people right off. Personally, I love her. She's intelligent, verbose, beautiful and likeable. She was in Elf. What's not to like?

Now she's ethereally floating on to our tiny screens following in her sister's footsteps (her big sister Emily is Temperance Brennan in the hit Sky1 show Bones) and I hope that those who dismiss her out of hand as a pretty face in a strappy dress at least give New Girl a chance as it's a comedy with lots and lots of charm and zero laugh track. (Wooooooh.)

The first episode has been available on 4oD for some time, as the Channel 4 trailer and sides of buses keep telling me. It's been on in America since September, so if you're particularly nefarious, you could well have watched the whole season so far. (*whistles nonchalantly*)

So, to the pilot.

Jess is a sweet girl who has run into a bit of trouble; she returned from work early one day to seduce her boyfriend with awkward naked dancing (NB: pretty much anything Jess does has "awkward" as an unspoken prefix) only to find that he's been doing a whole other kind of naked dancing with someone else entirely. She picks up her fanny-bow and her copy of Dirty Dancing and hightails it out of there.

We then meet her prospective new housemates: Coach, Schmidt and Nick. Having initially thought they were a group of women due to their delicately worded Craigslist advert, Jess is instantly smitten with their gorgeous apartment and essentially moves herself in whether they like it or not. They're not 100% keen until Jess drops that her best friend is a model, and all her friends are models, at which point Schmidt (The Douchey One) rolls the red carpet out for her. She's the New Girl and they're stuck with her and her constant alternating bouts of crying and singing. Surely they won't regret this!
Let's meet the housemates.

From L-R:

Schmidt is a douchebag, he has a Douchebag Jar into which he must drop about a third of his salary, he says dumb douchey things and is selfish and snooty and - oh wait, check it - he has a heart of gold. Unexpectedly, he's also bullied by the women in his all-female office.

It is he who has the bright idea to hook Jess up with some rebound sex, and be her wingman through the maze of new relationships. "Like Gandalf through Middle Earth?" asks Jess. Awww. No.

Nick recently had his heart pulverised by his girlfriend, but he's totally over it, as he likes to assert loudly and regularly. He's not over it all. He's also definitely not the one Jess will eventually fall in love with. Not at all. Nyet! He used to be a law student, and now he's a bitter bartender with no money, reverse snobbery and a problem with confrontation. And a big ol' heart of gold!

Winston. We'll get to Winston.

Coach is super aggressive (he looks it, no?) and has poor social skills. He's one of my favourite things about the opening episode, but don't bother getting attached as Damon Wayans Jnr is only in the first one. He was using New Girl as a sort of 'safety show' in case his other series, ABC's Happy Endings, got cancelled or New Girl didn't get picked up for a full season. It didn't, and it did, so he had to make a choice. He plumped for a sub-par sitcom starring one of the interns from Scrubs' crap season. (*shudder*) Actors are weird, yo.
By the end of the first episode they all learn to get along and play nice except Coach, who gets replaced by Winston next week. Winston is a basketball player who has spent two years being huge in Latvia. He's competitive, unhappy about Jess, and out of touch with anything modern - Latvia being a cultural wasteland and whatnot.

It's much better than the trailer lets on, there are some scenes that made beer come out my nose, and it improves week on week. Not only that, but the characters are endearing without being saccharine and Zooey's got cracking comic timing. Jess is sweet and sexy; I was trying to be her years before she was her - it's harder than it looks. From now on though, any time I see a cute man in a bar, I'm doing the Tex Avery style "awooga" with my glasses. It's just killer.

For the comedy nerds amongst us, there are later series appearances from Justin Long as Jess's super adorable and also awkward love interest Paul Gunslinger (you read that right), and my personal favourite human Lizzy Caplan (of the woefully underseen cater-waiter comedy Party Down and Mean Girls) will be dropping in later to charm the pants off one of the boys.

It's a testament to the show's quality that not only have I already seen it, but I watched it on 4oD and I'll likely watch it on Channel 4 tonight. It's fun, and everyone in it is cute and having a blast. It's one of my top 20 shows of this year, last year.
Happy New Year, lovely people.

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