There’s a lot of estrogen being injected into comedies this year. There are “2 Broke Girls,” “Whitney” and then there’s Jess, the “New Girl.” Zooey Deschanel joins the Fox family (home to her sister Emily, who has starred on “Bones” for years). While I hate the term “adorkable,” which Fox is using in all its publicity for the show, it does suit Deschanel’s character almost perfectly.
Jess has just suffered a brutal end to a relationship (and exceedingly embarrassing too) and is now in search of a new apartment with new roommates. She finds herself answering a Craigslist ad for a nice spacious flat, but the 3 existing roommates are guys. This doesn’t bother Jess in the slightest, and she does her best to win over the trio of males to let her be their fourth roommate. Jess is a little ridiculous, with a self-composed theme song (Deschanel who has been half of ‘She & Him’ has no problem singing the actual theme song for the show), an obsession with “Dirty Dancing” and can throw out a good “Lord of the Rings” reference at the drop of a hat. Yes, she’s “adorkable” and the roommates decide to take her in, especially when they hear that her best friend CeCe (Hannah Simone) and all of her other friends are models.
Her roommates aren’t free from their own foibles. Coach (played by Damon Wayans Jr., who due to the fact that “Happy Endings” was picked up for a second season will swiftly be replaced by a new character) can’t seem to talk to women without shouting at them. Schmidt (Max Greenfield, “Ugly Betty”) has some douchebag tendencies which the roommates try to correct by making him drop money in the “Douchebag Jar” when they appear. Nick (Jake Johnson, “No Strings Attached”) was dumped six months earlier and still struggles to move past it. There’s something immediately likeable about Nick and one senses just from the pilot that there will be efforts to hook him up with Jess during the run of this show. They do seem very compatible and the potential for sparks is definitely there, thanks to subtle performances by Deschanel and Johnson.
Overall the show is cute, though at times it does tend to push its luck with scenes; very often a scene lasts just a little too long to make the joke really funny and it leaves the audience wishing it would just move on already. Despite that, the writing is smart and there’s a lot of heart; it’s a great match to “Raising Hope” which follows it on Tuesday night and is also smart and heartfelt. Of course, if the show wasn’t funny, that wouldn’t mean much, so it’s a good thing that more often than not the happenings on screen are humorous. Hopefully as the show develops, the pacing of the show will pick up and the comedic timing of the jokes and gags will sharpen enough to really make the show fly.
It’s surprising to see the networks looking so hard for a new heir to Lucille Ball’s comedy tiara. Zooey Deschanel is certainly a contender and “New Girl” may just be a vehicle for her to drive into the winner’s circle and capture the crown.
“New Girl” premieres Tuesday September 20th on FOX at 9:00 PM EST/PST.