How New Girl became a hit in my house

I really wanted to hate New Girl. I saw countless GIFs reblogged on Tumblr, and plenty of friends (including our own Tanya) insisted the show was worth a shot, but as a longstanding dissenter of the Cult of Zooey D, I was prepared to approach the show with the same cynicism as I would any of her other projects. You see, here’s something I’ve never told anyone: for several years, Zooey Deschanel was one of my major hate spiral triggers.

I love vintage dresses, record collecting, great music, and art films; I can play the guitar and sing; I have bangs! But the thing that triggered me was a feeling of despair that I would never be seen the same way as Zooey. As a fat babe, I just wasn’t going to get the same appreciation, and it made me feel pretty low about myself. So, I projected that self-hate and insecurity onto Ms. Deschanel by refusing to watch anything she was in. Initially, I was afraid that the same triggering wave of self-doubt would start to happen again if I watched New Girl.

These days, though, I’m in a much different place than I was a few years ago. I am far more body positive, confident, and full of self-love than I was back then, and it has made a huge difference in every aspect of my life. Which is why, when I finally gave New Girl a try, I found myself really enjoying the show (and marathoning a bunch of episodes on Hulu).

CeCe and Jess

For those not in the know, the comedy series is about the daily adventures and dilemmas of Jess (Deschanel), who breaks up with her cheating loser boyfriend and ends up moving in as a roommate with three juvenile guys sharing an apartment. The first thing that really stuck out to me and made me keep watching the show – besides Schmidt (Max Greenfield), the frequently inappropriate roommate responsible for some of most quotable moments – was the strong, caring, non-competitive friendship between Jess and her childhood friend CeCe (Hannah Simone). The two have been devoted friends since grade school, always supporting each other, and any disagreements they’ve had throughout the show usually revolved around not keeping secrets from each other, or just about trying to help the other be the best she can be. Their relationship also passes the Bechdel test in spades.

Winston's sensitive side

I also couldn’t help but appreciate that the show features two prominent characters of color in CeCe and Winston (Lamorne Morris), one of Jess’s roommates. Neither character is written as a stereotype, but instead they are both full of realistic personality quirks. Any jokes about their respective races are usually at Schmidt’s expense, when he says something inappropriate and ends up being told to put money in the Douchebag Jar.

But I think the #1 thing that made me truly fall in love with New Girl was a scene that took place between Jess and Julia (Lizzy Caplan), the stern lawyer dating Jess’s roommate, Nick (Jake M. Johnson). In this scene, Jess has had enough of Julia’s condescending attitude and lets her know what’s up:

“I brake for birds. I rock a lot of polka dots. I have touched glitter in the last 24 hours. I spend my entire day talking to children, and I find it fundamentally strange that you’re not a dessert person. That’s just weird and it freaks me out. And I’m sorry I don’t talk like Murphy Brown, and I hate your pant suit and I wish it had ribbons on it to make it slightly cute. And that doesn’t mean I’m not smart and tough and strong.

GOD DAMN RIGHT. This is the age-old defense of femininity in feminism. Just because I want to wear a dress doesn’t mean I’m falling to the whims of the patriarchy!

Granted, I could also talk a bit about the problematic privilege surrounding the “twee” movement, as well the show’s title (although, even with the iffiness of referring to main character as a “girl,” this is still better than the supposed working title, Chicks and Dicks). All in all, New Girl is a show trying to be sensitive without being heavy-handed and overbearing. Besides, it has given us perhaps the greatest GIF of all times:


This entry was posted in television and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to How New Girl became a hit in my house

  1. Jia says:

    I too went into New Girl expecting it to be full of stereotypes but now I’m so glad I gave it a shot. I love Winston! I like that the male roommates are just as dorky and wacky as Jess, although I’m not crazy about the Nick/Jess stuff.

    Up All Night is also a great show for its treatment of women and gender roles and really funny.

    • Alice Marie says:

      Jia, I could not agree more about not shipping Nick/Jess. They’re trying to make it canon, but I WILL NOT HAVE IT.

      However, the show’s obvious OTP is Schmidt/Douchebag Jar.

  2. Slay Belle says:

    I think that the douchebag jar is actually an interesting and important part of the show, because its men calling out other men on being jerks, disrespecting women, being offensive, etc. We see that so rarely on tv I immediately homed in on it.

    And I really like Jess and CeCe as well. Its nice to see them support each other and work out their differences in mature ways.

    • Tanya says:

      Slay Belle, that’s one of my favorite things as well, how the guys DO frequently check each other and say “You probably shouldn’t do that, act like that, say that.”

      • Slay Belle says:

        It really is great. And the guys aren’t portrayed as ‘lesser’ men for it. Schmidt cooks, Winston is a nanny, and Nick is challenged on his mid-life crisis and lack of drive, but it’s never characterized as ‘what he deserved to have’. He is constantly called out on his own failings in moving his life forward.

        Jess has grown on me, but I really find the guys the compelling part of the show.

        • Tanya says:

          You know, I at first was myself alarmed by feeling that in a show where the main character is a young woman, I was more excited about the male characters. But that passed after a few episodes, because Jess was developing as a person & her dynamic with the guys is just SO fun. Plus they all help each other out. That episode where the guys go help her get her things from the ex-boyfriend’s place (granted, with the motive of getting a TV back in the apartment) is still one of my favorites.

          Winston is probably my favorite character lately. His whole story arc of maturing emotionally has been so awesome to watch.

  3. duetoprivacy says:

    I guess I will have to check this out. I kind of avoid zooeyD because I know I will never be like her- but I WANT to be like her. It’s hard. But I love that quote!

Comments are closed.