Who’s that girl? No, really, who is she? After a month-long hiatus, Fox has decided to reintroduce us to Jess, the leading lady of New Girl.
Jess is played by Zoey Deschanel. The writers of New Girl no doubt had Deschanel in mind when they created the show’s script. Deschanel has built a foundation of cutesiness from which all of her projects spring forth, each decked out in flouncy skirts and a set of pouty lips. Music-wise, Deschanel is part of M. Ward’s duo She & Him. She & Him’s albums are reminiscent of 50’s ice cream fountains and cruise nights. On camera, Deschanel has been a singing department store Elf (Elf), a runaway airplane stewardess (Almost Famous) and a flighty rich girl (Gigantic).
The few times she has muffled her sugar n spice have left me unconvinced. In 500 Days of Summer, Deschanel tries to be a heartbreaker. Moments of sadness involve Deschanel’s jaded comments about love, Joseph Gordon-Levitt breaking into sobs and me wanting to slap him. A baby bird with fringe bangs is making you upset Joseph! Pull it together!
Within the context of films or music, it is easy to be ‘that girl’ because there is a time and development end date. Nevertheless, I get concerned when Deschanel’s shtick is applied to a television series. In The New Girl’s opener, Deschanel’s Jess is dumped by her boyfriend. She decides to seek out a place of her own and finds an apartment opening with three guys – Cece, Schmidt and Nick. At first, the boys are not amused by the female banging on the door of their man-cave. Gradually, (since she is too damn adorable) the roomies grow to appreciate Jess and her quirky antics.
Successful characters demonstrate some measure of growth. However, television characters are unique in that they aim to illustrate maturation as a slow build. The hope is a pilot will become a season and a season will transform into a series. If a character cannot provide the stamina and personal complexities necessary to drive a plot forward, trouble is imminent. Thus far, New Girl’s story lines have boiled down to silly conflicts caused by Jess’s bumbling, followed by equally hasty resolutions, most of which involving group hugs. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy the inner warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from dancing sequences involving fake teeth or a scene where Jess accidentally sees Nick’s ‘peen.’ Regardless, the sensation may be akin to freezing to death. You know whatever is happening to you is real bad and caused by a simultaneous shut-down of your senses, yet slipping away is oh so peaceful.
People might already be moving on. New Girl’s ratings are down 19% since its premiere in October. Should I alert Deschanel? Shake her awake and haul her out of the snow drift? I don’t know. Perhaps she doesn’t need saving. Even if New Girl isn’t meant to last, Deschanel has gotten a temporary ticket to the ego trip of a lifetime. She’s got an entire nationally-syndicated show wrapped around her dainty pinkie finger. There is JESS…and those other characters whose names I have forgotten. Who wouldn’t be thrilled with such an arrangement? As I type this post, I begin to imagine a series about me, Addie! The darling pop culture commentator who likes cheese and decorative pillows!
The idea has selling power. I won’t take no for an answer.Tags: 500 days of summer, Almost Famous, Elf, Fox TV Network, M. Ward, New Girl, She & Him, Zoey Deschanel