“New Girl”, a new sitcom starring Zooey Deschanel as the lovable but eccentric Jess Day, is bringing the latest trends in movies into the television industry. Jess is a teacher in her late twenties who, following a messy break-up with her boyfriend of five years, ends up in a house-share with three guys she found on Craigslist.
Up until the show’s pilot, it appears that Jess has surrounded herself with like-minded people, or at least people who are used to her quirks. Nick, Schmidt and Winston are not. Nick is in the process of getting over a break-up of his own, Winston is just back from playing professional basketball abroad, and Schmidt likes to think of himself as a bit of a player – all are “boys’ boys”. Somehow they manage to grow fond of Jess, despite her ridiculously awkward moments and strange little habits, and they help look after her when she needs it.
Personally, I’ve loved Zooey Deschanel since I first saw her in (500) Days of Summer; she just plays that type of character perfectly and I can’t help but be happy to see someone playing happy quirky people for once. For a while, it seemed like everyone was either a “normal” person, or different in a bad way - there was very little room for all those wonderfully fascinating people that seem to live in different worlds. Since (500) Days of Summer, I’ve heard the term “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” been used to define this sub-archetype of female protagonists – they’re the heartbreakers who love vintage style and are supposedly every male scriptwriter’s dream girl, or so some opinionated articles I’ve read have claimed.
Jess Day doesn’t quite fit into this “MPDG” frame: she’s not a heartbreaker - in fact she’s the one with the broken heart; there’s no geeky guy falling in love with her (yet, although we’re only partway through the series); and most importantly, she doesn’t seem to notice she’s different. There’s no “look at me, I’m so unique” about Jess; she thinks everyone behaves somewhat like her and doesn’t really understand why the guys she lives with keep telling her to not be herself.
The show itself is beautifully cast, directed, produced and styled, catering for both the indie market and its mainstream viewers. The apartment that most of the action takes place in is what most people would love to experience their twenties in and the atmosphere of the bachelor-pad is brought across in some very subtle ways (such as there almost being World War 3 when a television gets broken). Jess brings her feminine touch into both the apartment and the lives of the men who live in it, helping them to open their eyes to the idea that “different” doesn’t equal “bad”.
All in all, a greatly amusing show with some truly cringe-worthy moments that anyone who’s had an awkward stage in their life can relate to (and let’s face it, that’s most of us). I highly recommend importing it or watching it when it airs in the UK on E4 over the coming months.