Sunday, 8 January 2012

Review: NEW GIRL, 1.1 – "Pilot"

Sunday, 8 January 2012

This Fox sitcom drew a bigger audience than the third season premiere of Glee when it debuted in the US, and now it finally reaches UK shores. I disliked it, as you'd probably expect. New Girl is everything I don't like about US comedy in one vivid, nauseating package. The only way it could have been worse would have been to add an unseen American audience to laugh, wolf whistle, and whoop over everything.

Zooey Deschanel (admitting her film career's terminal now she's 31 and still offered parts for 21-year-old ingénues) takes the lead as Jessica "Jess" Day--another character written to be a "quirky twentysomething", it would seem, so all Deschanel's done is switch mediums and chase job security. Or perhaps it's deeper than that and Jess is secretly a woman in her early-30s with learning difficulties? She reminded me of Charlize Theron's Jill from Arrested Development, who came across as disarmingly kooky but was later revealed to be a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Maybe I've stumbled upon New Girl's big season finale twist? Jill's a school teacher, too. I can only assume she's in charge of the potato printing lessons at a kindergarten.

Jill dumps her cheating boyfriend in the opening of the pilot when she arrives home to serenade him naked and finds he's in bed with someone else. Heartbroken, Jess moves into an apartment with three men: affable bartender Nick (Jake Johnson), self-styled ladies man Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and macho athlete "Coach" (Damon Wayans Jr)—a character replaced by Lamorne Morris as Winston hereafter. Who names a character "Coach", anyway?

New Girl relies totally on the audience finding Zooey Deschanel adorable (or "adorkable" as the US marketing claims), which goes for almost every character she's ever played. And I just don't find her "adorkable", even if millions do. The older she gets, the creepier her huskily-voiced doe-eyed performances feels to me. I'm sure she's a lovely person in real life, and makes plenty of hipsters swoon with her large eyes and elfin features, but her performances feel indistinguishable to me and I'm not under her spell. She's not so awful that I want to scratch my eyes out whenever I see her, and she has moments of winsomeness here, but this show is written in a way that's unappealing to me.

written by Liz Meriwether / directed by Jake Kasdan / 6 January 2011 / Channel 4