Elizabeth Meriwether caught my attention after I found myself surprised by how much I enjoyed the film No Strings Attached. The romantic comedy, which was written by Meriwether, was proof that good dialogue can turn a fairly unoriginal story into an enjoyable movie. So, when I heard she was the woman behind Fox’s new comedy New Girl, and that Zooey Deschanel was starring, my expectations were high. Fortunately, the pilot episode did not disappoint.
New Girl introduces us to Deschanel’s Jess as she returns home to find her boyfriend cheating on her with another girl. Homeless and brokenhearted, she answers an ad for a loft apartment where three guys are living, and so begins the simple set-up for what could be the next great friend-centric sitcom.
Jake Johnson (No Strings Attached) plays Nick Miller, a broken-hearted bartender who can empathize with Jess’ heartbreak. Of the three guys, Nick appears to be the one most likely to end up romantically involved with Jess. Max Greenfield (Ugly Betty, Veronica Mars) plays Schmidt, the guy who often attempts to come off as cool and sexy, but usually only ends up pulling off douchy. This is something his roommates are all too happy to point out to him.
Damon Wayans Jr. plays the third roommate “Coach” in the pilot, however due to his commitments to ABC’s Happy Endings, he (and his character) will be replaced in Episode 2 by Lamorne Morris. While that’s certainly good news for Happy Endings, it’s just as much New Girl’s loss as Wayan’s is funny as the fitness instructor who only knows how to talk to women by barking orders at them. It’ll be interesting to see what Morris brings to the table when the second episode airs.
New Girl doesn’t take long to strike a balance between Deschanel’s charm, the diverse dynamic of the foursome, and the amusing contrast between Jess’ quirkiness as a girl and her roommate’s attempts to understand her. All of that combined makes for a really promising new comedy series. Factor in Jess’ recent breakup and new living situation, and there’s a built in set-up for her to start over. Meanwhile, her presence at the loft and in Nick, Schmidt, and Coach’s life begins to shift their behavior and priorities from the start. While I suspect females will be able to connect with Jess and with the show in general, there’s definitely some guy humor thrown into the mix, which makes this series a good fit for both men and women.
Deschanel shines as Jess. There’s nothing like her on TV right now, which, added to the humor and the dynamic between the characters, makes this series a refreshing addition to the fall line-up. Fox needed a good comedy series to share the hour with returning comedy Raising Hope and it looks like they’ve found it in New Girl.
New Girl premieres Tuesday, Sept. 20 (9:00-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX.