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).
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.
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: