Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—New Girl, season 1 (2011-12) ****

TV-14, 24 24-min. episodes
Creator: Elizabeth Meriwether
Directors: Jake Kasdan, Jesse Peretz, Peyton Reed, Jason Winer, Michael Spiller
Writers: Elizabeth Meriwether, Berkley Johnson, Josh Malmuth, Luvh Rakhe, Nick Adams, Kim Rosenstock, Donick Cary, J..J Philbin, Joe Port, Lesley Wake, David Walpert, Joe Wiseman
Starring: Zooey Deschanel, Jake M. Johnson, Max Greenfield, Hannah Simone, Lamorne Morris, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Kali Hawk, Lauren Dair Owens, Justin Long, Lizzy Caplan, Dermot Mulroney, Rachel Harris, Phil Hendrie, Jeanne Tripplehorn

“New Girl” is my favorite new comedy of this past television season. I watched it initially because of Zooey Deschanel. It was a crush that developed before I’d realized how old I was. I became aware of Deschanel in those years when you lose touch of just how old you are, so I didn’t realize I was too old for her. She just seemed to play characters that I would’ve been attracted to in high school. Thankfully, Dermot Mulroney guested for a few episodes in this first season to prove that I’m not too old. My wife might feel I’m too married, though.

When the show premiered, I figured it might be cute, but I probably wouldn’t stay with it. Zooey had signed on for a sitcom, and it would follow all the normal sitcom patterns. I’m not very into the classic sitcom format.

The premise was simple enough. Zooey moves in with three guys and drives them crazy with her female sensibilities, sickening cuteness, and buried sexuality. That is what the show is, but I didn’t expect it to be half so clever about it. Its delivery is more like a “Seinfeld” than you’re classic sitcom. These people don’t really do anything. But the way they do nothing is incredibly funny.

Zooey was the draw right from the beginning, but it didn’t take long for the other characters to start to grab a hold. Unlike the “Seinfeld” crew, these people aren’t creeps, well Schmidt is, but he’s such a cute one. Jake M. Johnson and Max Greenfield work well against each other and Zooey. It took a little while for the other two regulars to fit in. I didn’t think Hannah Simone’s model character was going to find a way to fit in, but eventually they found her.

And, although it felt like Lamorne Morris as the token black guy was just that, a token black guy, he really found his character in the second half of the season. I liked the guy he replaced too. I also like that they actually mention the black guy from the pilot every once and a while. It was weird that he just disappeared and another black guy was there the next week. It felt like the network insisted on an African American. I’m glad he finally became his own identity.

I don’t feel like I’ve really expressed the quirky, almost free-spirited nature of this series. I kind of got sucked into talking about the actors, but with a show that really isn’t about anything, the people in it becomes what it is about. I don’t ever doubt the uncomfortable situations these people find themselves in or they way they relate to each other, or the strange things they just do for the heck of it. I laugh when I watch this show. That’s what a sitcom should be about.

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