mon 22/07/2024

New Girl, Channel 4 | reviews, news & interviews

New Girl, Channel 4

New Girl, Channel 4

New US sitcom with an 'adorkable' central character

Zooey Deschanel (hands raised) and friends in 'New Girl'

Since the departure of Friends and Frasier from our screens, fans of the genre have been waiting for the next generation of mates-based US sitcoms.

A few - including Two and A Half Men and The Big Bang Theory - have crossed the Atlantic and found a niche on British television, but this latest offering comes with instant audience and critical acclaim. New Girl, which began in the States in September, gained more than 10 million viewers (making it Fox’s highest-rated autumn sitcom debut in a decade), its run was doubled after two episodes and it has been nominated for a couple of Golden Globes.

New Girl is the creation of Elizabeth Meriwether, who wrote last year's romcom hit No Strings Attached, and stars indie queen Zooey Deschanel, star of (500) Days of Summer. It's set in Los Angeles in one of those huge apartments that seem to exist only in American sitcoms, and in a universe where people don't appear to work for a living and are all implausibly good-looking with perfect dentistry and hairdos, and as such it's the antithesis of Peep Show, which delights in its characters' awfulness in every way.

Jess (Deschanel), a twentysomething teacher who is newly single after finding her boyfriend in bed with another woman, has to find a new place to live, pronto, and lands among a flatshare with three blokes.

The three men are, of course, stereotypes. Nick (Jake Johnson) is a law-school dropout who is now a bartender; like Jess he is also nursing a broken heart, but in his case he was the dumpee. Schmidt (Max Greenfield) is a lawyer and would-be lothario who whips off his top to expose his six-pack at frequent intervals, while Coach (Damon Wayans Jr) is a former basketball player who can't communicate with women. (Wayans' character, by the way, disappears after a couple of episodes to be replaced by Lamorne Morris as the equally jocky flatmate Winston.)

If you have an version to the words kooky, geeky or nerdy, then Jess will annoy you from the off. In the first episode she lolled on the sofa watching Dirty Dancing (one of the greatest movies of all time, and I say that without a hint of irony) on a loop, bursting into tears and breaking into song by turns. In America, it's called “adorkable”; in the real world we call it being an annoying tit, but Deschanel just about managed to pull it off.

Deschanel was helped by a script that had some nice touches. Schmidt, when meeting Jess's best friend Cece (Hannah Simone), a gorgeous model who was wearing a low-cut dress, said, “I can see your party hats”, but then had to put a dollar fine in a jar labelled “douchebag” for his inappropriate behaviour. And when the three men turned up at the restaurant where her ungallant date had stood her up, one said, “We're reverse Mormons – one man isn't enough for her.”

Last night's pilot set up the situation nicely, even if the comedy was a little thin, but the main characters are all likeable and the multiple strands of love, friendship and romance were neatly laid out. Jess may be hapless but thankfully - tears and singing aside - she's not helpless and she got back into the dating game, while she and the guys swapped equally terrible advice on pulling techniques. If you can deal with Jess's kookiness and the stereotypes are toned down, New Girl may turn out to be a very knowing and truthful comedy of modern manners.

  • New Girl continues on Channel 4 on Fridays
It's set in Los Angeles in one of those huge apartments that seem to exist only in American sitcoms


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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