By: Adam Lehrer
I’m a man who likes motorcycles and heavy metal, and I love “New Girl”
I am not the type of guy who secretly enjoys sitting through some romantic comedy with my girlfriend. When she made me watch “The Notebook,” my icy perception was not thawed, instead I focused on the annoying tendency of that film’s stars (Ryan Gosling, etc..) to not be able to stick to an accent. Are you form the south or Brooklyn Noah? Get it together! I like leather jackets. I like brown liquor. I like violent movies. I like grit. But, since I finally popped it on my Netflix account and tore through the first two seasons, I like, no, I love, “New Girl.”
What lead me to make the decision to watch “New Girl?” Pretty much because I’ve exhausted all other binge watching choices. But after a few episodes of the show trying to find its voice, it dawns upon you at about episode four of season one that this is easily the most genuinely hilarious, heartfelt, identifiable and overall just perfect sitcom on television. It goes beyond a feminine guilty pleasure, instead appealing to people who know great television when they see it. Truly, the most perfect binge watching series ever created.
Obviously a vehicle for the evey quirky, ever cutesy and let’ face it, tremendously beautiful Zooey Deschanel. But here’s where the show could have easily faltered and never falls victim: showrunner Elizabeth Merriweather could have easily caricaturized Zooey’s Jess into a blue eyed quirky ditz. Jess is still a quirky blue-eyed pseudo-ditz, but she also takes her carachter into another realm. Jess is a STRONG AND INDEPENDENT woman.
That right there, is a feat in itself. The only other show with female characters this well drawn-out is the ever exhausting “Girls.” But unlike “Girls,” Jess is not reprehensible. We like her, we want her to be happy and we want her to find love. And I speak for all of us when I say we because I know my roommates (that are male), my girlfriend (a female) and an assorted group of friends (male and female) all unanimously agree: “New Girl” is the least guilty of guilty pleasures that any of us has ever witnessed. This show crosses gender boundaries and has this self awareness that just revels in its own corniness.
Show runner Merriweather has had an intriguing background in show business. She wrote the screenplay for ultra-lute Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher “beautiful people having meaningless sex but finding love vehicle,” for “No Strings Attached,” but has also done extensive writing for the pitch-black Adult Swim comedy series “Children’s Hospital.” “New Girl” seems to combine these two sensibilities (not to mention share cast members) between ultra-sincere corniness and a spattering of general debauched grossness. But it also manages to blow both the movie and the show away in watchability and ambition.
Merriweather casted the show with flawless execution. Zooey, along with her co-stars Jake Johnson as Nick, Emmy-winning Max Greenfield as Schmidt, LaMorne Harris as Winston and the showstoppingly beautiful Hannah Simone as Jess’s model best friend Cece. I have never in my life seen a cast that has worked so well together. I used to make similar boasts when discussing “Parks and Rec,” “it’s Always Sunny,” “Seinfeld,” the US version of “The Office,” but for some reason this cast of characters has a level of warm together that is not only sincere, but brings belly laughing hilarity to near every episode.
Need proof? On a couple episodes the gang demonstrates their homemade drinking game “True American,” which looks not only like a complicated and hilarious game, but makes me think that the cast must be killing themselves to not burst into laughter with every sequence shot.
And finally there is the romance. Step aside Jim and Pam, move over Ross and Rachel. You’ve been de-throned. Jess and Johnson’s Nick have easily the most natural on-screen chemistry I’ve ever seen in a TV series. How they look into each other’s eyes. They laugh at each other. They argue worse than my parents did when I was a kid. I was rooting for them from the third episode and the show makes us wait another (spoiler alert) two seasons to finally give us what we want. When they finally kissed, my girlfriend and I both were about to weep for joy.
The show’s self-awareness is astounding. Like many sitcoms, the gang has one African-American friend. Instead of ignoring this like so many series do, Merriweather acknowledged it within the storyline. An entire episode follows Schmidt as he tried to help Winston get in touch with his inner-blackness, feeling that by living with all white people he’s giving up his sense of identity. It was a brilliant and organic way for the show to comment on this cliché, and a demonstration of how wonderfully the writing staff riffs on sitcoms while still acknowledging itself as being a sitcom. Not to mention watching these two guys try and buy crack. See it to believe it.
So, I don’t care how manly you are or how skeptical you are to network sitcoms, “New Girl,” is the most consistently hilarious, heartfelt, sincere and the best comedy on TV. I am depressed I finished the first seasons so fast, because now like a shmuck I have to wait a week in between every delicious episode. So, to paraphrase Ahmed and Troy of the formey best comedy on TV, NBC’s “Community,” to “New Girl,” Six Seasons and a movie!”