Fringe Benefits

[TV show] New Girl

Zooey and I have been through a lot together over the years. I’ve watched The Village. Twice. I sat through (500) Days Of Summer. Seemingly in real-time. That film where she runs a hipster cereal bar? Flipped the bird at the Feds and downloaded it due to the inexplicable lack of a UK release. Seriously, that shit had Oscar written all over it.

It even took me longer than the 10 seconds listening strictly necessary to determine that She & Him were a bucket of tepid folk wank; the aural equivalent of drowning in a ball pool full of kittens. That is to say, I thought it was time to move on – the cycle of abuse had to end. I even started perving over other women with fringes. *Logs on to fuckyeahgirlswithbangs.tumblr.com*

So it was purely in the spirit of inquiry that I decided to give her new sitcom New Girl a chance. Any actor will tell you that all the best writing in Hollywood at the moment is on television, especially those who need another hit like Pete Doherty, so it’s no real surprise to see Zooey turn up in Fox’s ‘adorkable’ (yup, that’s how they’re promoting it. Jesus) latest offering. But before you crank up the CRAP KLAXON it should be noted that the series is created by Elizabeth Meriwether, whose previous credits include Childrens Hospital. Less promisingly, she also wrote No Strings Attached. *Fire up the klaxon*

The premise is as slight as one of the floaty summer dresses I picture the winsome Ms Deschanel wearing as she gambols through a meadow towards me in my dreams. But hey, this isn’t Zooey fap fiction I’m writing here – if it was it would consist mainly of us shopping in the stores she wants to shop in, to a vegan café for soya lattes all round, then maybe some light sex afterwards if we’re not too tuckered out. *Cough* Sorry to digress. In it she plays Jess, a geeky teacher who’s just been ditched by her boyfriend and ends up moving into an improbably swish loft with three regular guys. Beamed into their apartment like Mawk from Ork, they’re not so keen at first due to her admission that she watches Dirty Dancing six times a day and sings to herself. A lot. But the discovery that all her friends are models mean that she’s on the washing up rota quicker than you can say ‘six month shorthold agreement.’

Okay, so the show may have been custom-tooled to make bedwetting fringe-blind fucks like myself lose all use of our critical faculties – its métier being less ‘set up, joke’ and more ‘set up, mope’ – but you know what? It ain’t half bad. Things don’t get off to a great start when, with grim predictability, Zooey sings the theme tune like the schmindie Anthropologie wearing Dennis Waterman she so clearly is. Christ, her uniquely mellifluous atonal honk could RIP even the most resolute hipster boners from the other side of a vinyl fair. On the plus side, at least it didn’t have any titting ukulele on it. But if you can get over that the writing is pretty sharp and the twee tart is genuinely funny and charming in it (translation: I totally would. But she really is quite good). The opening scene where Jess outlines to a friend how she’s going to seduce her (soon to be ex) boyfriend is a case in point:

Jess: He says he has a fantasy where I’m a stripper and I have a heart of gold and he’s helping me through college.

Hannah: He didn’t say the college part did he?

Jess: No. I wanted to create a three dimensional sex character.

Hannah: So what’s your stripper name?

Jess: Rebecca Johnson. No, Boobies Johnson. Two Boobs Johnson.

Look, it’s all in the delivery, okay. Also, she was wearing a trench coat and horn rims when she said it. But as strong as Deschanel’s performance is, the supporting cast are pretty weak. Her trifecta of turd roommates consists of Nick, a recently dumped, ennui-laden barman who will obviously at some point realise he can look beyond Jess’s dungarees and Lord of the Rings references to see her inner beauty; Schmidt, an allegedly loveable douche; and Coach, a stereotypical emotionally repressed black guy. None of these J Crew models really adds too much to the show and in the long run it’s debatable whether Jess’s story arc – socially inept geek can’t get a date – is really going to sustain the show.

She’s okay in small doses, and has plenty of funny lines, such as when she triumphantly announces she’s been asked out on a date: ‘Dinner. With food’ (remember, delivery) but she’s essentially 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon minus the self-awareness, snark or kick-ass job. And without a Jack Donaghy to bounce off it’s difficult to see where the character can go. The majority of the comedy supposedly stems from the guys’ increasing exasperation at Jess’s relentless girly kookiness – they’re like chalk and cheese! And boy, is there a lot of cheese – even more than you’d find in Alex James’s Cotswolds farmhouse kitchen.

But, for all these reservations, there’s the germ of a decent show here with a girl who rocks a mean up ‘do at its heart. And for that reason, I’m prepared to give it another shot. Which is big of me.

I thought I was out. But she pulled me back in.

Update, 6th January 2012. The show is now going to shit. In one episode she taught bell ringing to troubled teens. FFS. But episode 8 – Bad In Bed – is a total keeper.

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2 Responses to “Fringe Benefits”

  1. Looks like a load of balls chap. Move on lad. There are other bangs out there…

    • *Marks comment as spam*
      I’ve had it confirmed by independent sources that it is actually kind of okay. Plus, if Zzzzooey reads my review and sees I gave it 3 stars she might totally go to 3rd base with me (whatever that entails).

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