TV review: Zooey Deschanel’s old schtick good enough in ‘New Girl’

By Alex Antonetz

With Zooey Deschanel (“(500) Days of Summer”) as the lead in, well, anything, quirkiness is sure to be present. “New Girl,” the new series from Fox, makes no qualms about that.

Deschanel plays the off-kilter Jess Day, who finds out her boyfriend cheated on her. After the breakup, she moves out of her old apartment and moves in with three guys: Nick (Jake Johnson), a bartender, Schmidt (Max Greenfield), whose womanizing ways lead the roommates to create a “douchebag jar,” to which Schmidt must donate $1 every time he acts like a douchebag, and Coach (Damon Wayans Jr., who will only appear in the pilot), an intense personal trainer who has issues communicating with women.

“New Girl” doesn’t try to make Deschanel do something unexpected. She wears flannel, thick-framed glasses and often partakes in socially unacceptable behavior. She sobs to “Dirty Dancing,” uses terribly awkward pickup lines and takes showers with her clothes on.

In short, Deschanel is seemingly playing herself, and that’s OK. But for a show on network television, appealing to the masses might be a bit of a worry.

There’s nothing about “New Girl” that really shouts mass appeal. I have no doubt many viewers will take issue with the show’s wackiness, which is a shame because the show really has its moments. It’s never anything extravagant, but the zaniness of Deschanel’s character might turn off some more closed-minded viewers.

“New Girl” is at its best when Deschanel has the reigns. She makes the show quite charming, but even so, it’s not likely that audiences will care much if they can’t tolerate the nature of the show’s comedy.

Despite Deschanel’s work, the pilot certainly felt like a pilot. It feels like the show hasn’t yet truly found its identity, but that can be forgiven. It also never feels like there is any real chemistry between the show’s four leads, despite the fact that the episode wraps on a fairly touching note. But then again, with a show built around a character who’s purposefully awkward, who’s to say the chemistry between the characters isn’t meant to feel the same way?

There’s a chance “New Girl” could find a niche audience as its charm and awkward humor makes it worth a watch. Sadly, it feels as if it might be a show better fit for the more nuanced viewers of cable instead.

The series premiere of “New Girl” is set to air Tuesday at 9 p.m. on Fox.

Verdict: B+

Read more here:
Copyright 2019 The Lantern