author – activist – faculty – mom
One of the things I like to write about is falling in and out of love with new TV shows. This blog has borne witness to the ups and downs of my romances with Whitney, Revenge, Devious Maids, and Quantico. But I think this is the first time I can report having initially fallen in love with a show, then feeling pretty meh about it, and then falling back in love.
New Girl, the award-winning and “adorkable” comedy created by Elizabeth Meriwether and starring Zooey Deschanel, was starting to lose my deepest affection. I continued to watch, because I’m invested in the characters in a general way, but their recent pair of episodes “Road Trip” and “A Chill Day,” reminded me exactly what I love about this show.
For anyone not familiar, New Girl is an ensemble comedy about four housemates sharing a downtown LA loft, three men and one woman. The original plot centered on unlikely couplings. Jess, the “new girl” moves into the loft. She’s an awkward, quirky elementary school teacher, a sort of a cross between Mary Poppins and Mindy Lahiri. There’s an early chemistry that blooms into a zany romance with one of the male housemates Nick, a sort of thirty-something but already washed up type guy who works in a nearby bar. There’s also a sort of hate sex romance between Jess’ unlikely best friend, Cece, a model, and another housemate Schmidt.
Now, in Season 5, Jess and Nick have broken up and Cece and Schmidt are getting married. This particular pair of episodes follow first the male characters and then the female characters in an ill-fated pair of bachelor and bachelorette parties. I’ve seen this plot device used before in another show I love, the heist series Leverage. They did a pair of episodes: “The Girls Night Out Job” and “The Boys Night Out Job.” Like the New Girl episodes, they each follow one gender crew, showing the telecommunications interactions between them, but in the second episode, we see more clearly what was happening on the other end.
The plot works well for a caper show like Leverage, but it was particularly fabulous in New Girl, because the gendered pre-nuptial activities are a clear comment on gender roles, marriage, and contemporary relationships. I won’t say more, because I don’t want to spoil anything.
But this is the amazing thing about our contemporary media landscape, the storytelling can be so good these days. I remember my folks calling the TV “the idiot box” when I was a kid, and in many ways it was. Nowadays, I watch TV on a computer not a box, and it’s definitely gotten smarter. Enjoy!