Aired: 6th January 2012
Zooey Deschanel can act awkward, desperate and gawky to a T. It’s her ‘thing’. Jennifer Anniston’s booked the ‘eternally Rachel riding out a series of emotional relationship-related rollercoaster’s’ gig and Meg Ryan was the Queen of the blonde, ditzy rom-com girls. We seem to like actors that play a type and then deliver that type in a succession of identical roles with only alternating names, fellow characters and scenarios to differentiate them from the last. Perhaps we don’t like to be surprised. Zooey’s ‘thing’ is to act the goofy cross of E.T and Katy Perry’s backwater cousin on demand, but she’s a pretty cute and endearing girl with lamp-light blue eyes, so it seems to work for her. As such, it was only really a matter of time before she became the titular character in her own sitcom.
Zooey is Jessica ‘Jess’ Day, whose well-meaning world falls apart when she discovers that her boyfriend Spencer has been cheating on her. After cavorting around the room nude trying to play erotic with a potted plant and a cushion, Jess realises she needs to call time on the relationship and find some new lodgings. This is the concept of New Girl, Foxes latest American offering which is sure to succeed once it washes up on UK waters, all bug-eyed and irritating.
The premise of the pilot episode was that with great immediacy, Jess had located the perfect apartment on Craigslist where she finds herself berated with questions from the three settled housemates. Jess is a goldfish in a piranha tank, a kitten in a petshop of pit bulls…a…well you get the drift. There’s Nick (Jake Johnson) whose suffered a breakup of his own six months ago (but he’s over it…*sarcasm off*), Schmidt (Max Greenfield), the douche of the group who is a high flying lawyer and womaniser extraordinaire (his name also allows for endless word play such as ‘Hey Schmidt stain!’), and Coach, (Damon Wayans Jr.) a shouty, angry, angry young man who can’t talk to women but can shout your body into shape in sessions. Sadly, Coach is out after the pilot so don’t get too used to him.
Jess’s awkward, bumbling interview technique finally strikes a chord with her unimpressed hosts when she reveals that she has a hot model bestie CeCe (Hannah Simone) so the boys naturally accept her as their fourth and final flatmate. They soon begin to regret their choice when Jess degenerates into floods of tears at any given opportunity, watches Dirty Dancing on repeat and bursts into spontaneous song. The boys decide that the only way to cheer Jess up and escape the insanity of her effervescently cheery personality is to get her a rebound.
With the boy’s expert coaching, Jess manages to secure herself a rebound date, by saying little, laughing at all of his jokes and demanding rebound sex. Unfortunately, the date doesn’t pan out due to Jess’s childlike neediness and text onslaughts. The boys, booked up with a party, decide to come to her aid and serenade her with ‘Time of My Life’.
This show has been heralded as something of a ‘new Friends’. I don’t think it’s quite that, even if there is something of the OCD Monica and the cloud cuckoo land Phoebe in Jess’s character and a vague remnant of Joey hovering around Schmidt. Nonetheless, it’s a sweet and funny, slightly indie look at 3 guys and 1 girl in a flat share looking to live life and find love. I don’t know if Jess will becoming slightly unpalatable as the series wears on but for now her fish out of water kookiness seems to be going down well. I’m also looking forward to finding out whether Jess finds long-term love with one of her three flatmates…watch this space…