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Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Girl "Pilot" has new girl smell

     In FOX's New Girl, Jess Day (Zooey Deschanel, (500) Days of Summer, Tin Man), a quirky, nerdy, adorable girl, catches her boyfriend cheating on her. Sobbing uncontrollably and marathoning Dirty Dancing, Jess decides to find a new place. Responding to a posting on Craigslist, she ends up living with three guys, who reluctantly take her in when one of them, Schmidt (Max Greenfield, Ugly Betty, Veronica Mars), finds out her friends are models. Her best friend, CeCe (Hannah Simone, WCG Ultimate Gamer), take an instant disliking to the new roomies. But it's not long before Jess begins to grow on them, and they not only appreciate her, but sacrifice to come to her rescue when she is hurt.

     Based on early promos, a girl living with three guys, who, let's face it, will probably try to sleep with her, looked dumb. Despite positive reviews, and the fact that Ms. Deschanel is my biggest celebrity crush, I went into this series with low expectations. Imagine the surprise, then, when New Girl turns out to be a charming, witty, clever series. Not only is Deschanel "adorkable," as the network rightly boasts, but her chemistry with the guys is complicated and interesting. They aren't lecherous creeps, but instead, caring friends. Add to that Jess's tendency to make up little ditties for herself, and New Girl is quite a great show.

    Coach (Damon Wayans Jr., My Wife and Kids) is the anger-prone tough guy, who definitely feels like a brother to Jess. Sadly, Wayans is already committed to another funny sitcom, Happy Endings, so he will be replaced next week by a new character named Winston (Lamorne Morris). Hopefully the next guy that comes in to fill his shoes keeps the same dynamic with Jess, as theirs seems the least likely relationship to head towards romance, and that will prove invaluable when she, inevitably, ends up getting with one of the roommates.

     Not that the guys are overbearingly flirting with Jess. Sure, Schmidt can be a bit of a douche, hence the douche bag jar that he must pay when he makes jerky comments, such as saying he would "do" Jess. And eventually, they might, though likely in a drunken mistake fashion. But Nick (Jake Johnson, No Strings Attached) is a caring, sweet individual, whose own recent break up might find him a reason to connect with Jess. Should he do so, he needs to learn from past mistakes. His previous girl, Caroline (Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Perfect Couples, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) tells Nick that she never knew he cared until after they break up.

     While the men are fun, Jess is the true heart of the series. Her cute glasses, tendency to reference Lord of the Rings, and naivety about sexual matters make her even more attractive than she already is. She isn't the typical girl on television type, though her natural beauty does preclude her ever looking too bad. The thing is, though, she has charm and a natural ability to be funny that will help New Girl run long after the original premise falls by the wayside. It's the "it" factor that Zooey possesses that will make New Girl the hit that it deserves to be.

     That, and hilarious writing.

     Watch New Girl Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

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     Please click here to catch up with streaming episodes of New Girl.

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