Zooey Deschanel is the ultimate manic-pixie-dream-girl; a type of bubbly, fun, hyperactive girl which exists almost exclusively in fiction. In (500)Days of Summer, Yes Man, Elf & (to a lesser extent) The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy she plays a very similar character, one whose youthful exuberance is so desirable to the protagonist that they try to live life in a similar way.
Here we have her as the lead in a new Sit-Com which sees Jess (Deschanel) move into an apartment with three guys because of a messy break up with her boyfriend. Straight away we know this is the same Zooey Deschanel we’ve seen in those films I’ve just mentioned; she likes to make up her own theme tunes for daily chores, she is socially awkward, she laughs and smiles (a lot) and is generally very “cute.” The most annoying thing about all of this is that I was still entertained throughout the show, her quirkiness was endearing and some of her habits were genuinely humorous. The three flatmates she has are somehow easy to hate but also the type of people we have all met (or are ourselves on occasion)and love to have a laugh with. It’s all very plausible in a surreal way, I don’t get why but it just works.
In many ways the comedy is terribly forced, Jess “tries” to smile, she gets her skirt caught in her knickers and she attempts a ‘sexy naked dance’ so badly that it isn’t really very funny because it’s just that bit too over-the-top. Yet the comedy in between these in your face “gags” is as funny as some of the best sit-coms . I particularly like the fact that there was no real attempt to establish romantic links between the four characters and that the balance of male to female was heavily in favour of the men (which strays from the convention of half and half like in scrubs , Friends etc) it is a breath of fresh air to have the lead in a comedy show to be a woman surrounded by men.
I fully realise the gaping flaws in New Girl but I can’t help but notice its potential. It’s one to keep an eye on.
New Girl is available now on 4OD and will be broadcast on Jan 6th on Channel 4