NEW GIRL Season One Commentary, My Love-Hate-Love Relationship
Oh New Girl, it’s been a loooong season. For anyone that followed my recaps of this show, you know the shaky relationship I’ve had with it. When I first heard about New Girl I was excited about Zooey Deschanel coming to TV, in her own show no less! I love her just as I love Drew Barrymore, for their adorable quirkiness, a quality I have never and will never posess. Mine is a more straightforward, dorky quirkiness and with these viking shoulders I’m not sure anyone would call me adorable. I can however be justifiably proud to see Thor on the big screen. As usual I’ve headed down another bunny trail….what were we talking about?
Yes, New Girl. I was happy for Zooey, but unsure of the men cast with her as I wasn’t terribly familiar with them. After stints on Ugly Betty, Greek and my personal favorite, Veronica Mars, Max Greenfield has finally found a show and character that really seems to fit and with whom he can go for the long haul in Schmidt. Schmidt began the season as an obnoxious douche (miss the douchebag jar as a touchstone for the episodes), but became a loveable one by the end of the season.
Though Jake Johnson was known in the entertainment industry, particularly the comedic world, through performances with the Upright Citizen’s Brigade and at Second City, he hadn’t really been formally introduced to us yet. His Nick has been the quintessential best friend to Deschanel’s Jess with some not-so-subtle hints at something more between the two in the future, a la Friends‘ Ross and Rachel. Now we know Nick very well and he has become our favorite curmudgeony cynic over the season and seems to be the show favorite for most. I was fortunate to get to meet and speak with Jake Johnson at SXSW this year, albeit briefly. He was gracious and kindly answered my question of him on the red carpet for the fantastic film, Safety Not Guaranteed, in which he and the rest of the cast give a stellar performance.
Hannah Simone as CeCe really shines in the last half of the first season. Her secret relationship with Schmidt brought her to the forefront and she really proved herself. Girl’s got chops. I have enjoyed watching her character blossom and gain more and more substance over time. She went from being the little angel on Jess’ shoulder whispering in her ear to her own character, independent of Jess with her own uncertainties and her own mistakes. I’m interested to see where things between CeCe and Schimdt will go now that they are on the outs, are we in for an on-off relationship?
Last, but in my humble opinion, not least, we have Lamorne Morris as Winston. Winston replaced Coach who was played by Damon Wayans Jr. when Damon’s first choice show, Happy Endings turned out to be a hit. It’s truly a win-win situation. To be honest, I have next to nothing on him, at least as far as what I knew before New Girl. I did recently see him in this past season of The Guild, as a guy at a Megagame-o-ramacon booth and found this little gem on his IMDB page:
Oh yeah, he did that. I have said many times that Winston has been grossly underused in this show. His first episode to really shine, “Bells”, was by far one of my favorite. The writers have brought him more to the forefront in the latest episodes to hilarious result.
And then there’s Zooey. We all know Zooey from her famous parents to her relationship with Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie and through her own success as musician She & Him. Deschanel’s Jess is such a polarizing figure, but love her or hate her, there are plenty of women like her. The writers have allowed her to grow and mature recently and have really allowed her to become an intrinsic part of the lives of these goofy men that she calls her roommates.
When the show began I felt like it got off to a slow, lackluster start. When my husband asked me about it, I had an “I wouldn’t throw it out of bed, but…” opinion. As the show went on, it took a couple of steps downhill and then just became stagnant. I found not just myself, but my friends and readers all having the same experience; none of us really liked the show, but we just kept watching and waiting for something to happen. Obviously there was something there that kept us coming back.
The cast was talented, we just needed them to come together and that took a shift in the writing to really flesh out all the characters and allow all of them to become three dimensional. The biggest improvement, which very suddenly and distinctively occurred mid-season, was the change in the interaction between the roommates. They became a cohesive unit; a family, which was indicated by the season finale with Nick’s departure and return to the apartment. There was just no way at this point that it could be right without him. At the same time they were all suddenly very well-defined and gained depth, each character started growing up (even going from late twenties to suddenly all being thirty) and taking chances, and it all came together. The show ended with all of the early detractors that I mentioned, who just kept watching in spite of themselves, finally breathing a sigh of relief and enjoying the last episodes of the season immensely. Our obstinance finally paid off.
Kudos to Liz Meriwhether and her team on a job well done. Not only is it difficult to write well, then to write well for other people’s interpretation, but then to willing to alter the way you approach something that is so close to you is painful like nothing else for a writer. Thank you for taking that chance and making the shift to create this show that we, in the end, fell in love with.
What are your thoughts on Season One? What was your favorite episode or moment? Share your thoughts in the comments!