By now you’ve probably figured out that I’m the kind of woman who has a tiny girl-crush on Zooey Deschanel. Plus, she’s my age & I like how quirky her taste in projects is.
Two things about this occur to me just now: 1. I seem to be a little obsessed with age and what ages people (and public figures) are in relation to my age.
and 2: From Almost Famous in 2000 to now, Zooey Deschanel seems to be exactly the same age. I think it’s the bangs. Probably, too, the Hollywood effects on her skin.
I wonder if her spectacularly arty parents named her Zooey after Zooey from J.D. Salinger’s Franny & Zooey.
And I own the She & Him albums (Volume 1 and Volume 2), and while I much prefer Deschanel’s voice when she’s going low and 20s (like in Elf), I feel like there’s a time and a place for the squeakier, pitchier one she does in the higher register, too, though generally like it less.
And this brings me ’round to Deschanel’s new show, New Girl. (The theme song is sung by Deschanel, and she uses her squeaky voice.)
I mean, it’s not her show as in she owns it, but the premise is built around the character she plays who is called Jess.
And seriously, I watched two episodes and I was ready to be like, “snore, I’m done.” But then, I. Kept. Watching.
And I wish I hadn’t.
Because it seriously stinks.
Deschanel’s surpassing cuteness is just not enough to save it! She’s no Ugly Betty.
Here’s the story line of every episode every time so far:
One of the roommates has some social or personal or vocational foible, other roommates save the day, always emotionally, but sometimes using money or practical objects like rides and hutches.
The first two episodes, Jess (the New Girl) was the one with the problems, all relating to her recently exed boyfriend, and there was a subplot/romantic tension between Jess and Nick, the law school dropout bartender with scruples and a heart of gold (talk about an underdog), who was also (less) recently dumped.
Jess is the new girl because she answered an ad for a roommate that was placed by the three guys, Schmidt, Nick, and Winston.
They let her move in because her BFF (Ci Ci) is a model.
She is a teacher.
And I wanted to think that the show was offering commentary or something. But here’s what’s what: It’s too earnest to be parody, and it’s a touch better than the failed Ryan Reynolds project, Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place from 1998, which I loved, but it was before college, so my taste from that period is totally suspect; and while I like the jokes in New Girl more than the ones in Friends, I don’t think there are enough characters to give the show that kind of longevity.
So Zooey Deschanel, you disappoint me again (like you did with (500) Days of Summer, which I totally would’ve loved if I’d seen it in my late teens/early twenties, but now I am old and bored and no longer fulfilled by fiction that depicts the people I want to be, at least not in the difficult romantical sense).
And maybe that’s it. Maybe I’m just not quite hipster enough to love the new New Girl show. Maybe I’ve pickled my mind with too many crime dramas, too much motherhood, and too many shitty decisions that have made me a little cynical.
Or maybe I’m too old. Though I do still (often) have the sense of humor of a 15-year-old boy.
Here are some nice things about the show:
It tells some pretty unflinching penis jokes.
It spends more time talking about sex than depicting it (which I appreciate because if I wanted to watch soft core porn, well, I would. I prefer to read sex).
They have a douche jar (same concept as a swear jar if you haven’t seen it).
The underdog law school dropout guy, played by Jake Johnson, is pretty cute.
Schmidt, played by Max Greenfield, does lovable douche extremely well.
The former basketball star, Winston, played by Lamorne Morris, is sincere and flawed in a less superficial way than the other characters.
The characters are familiar to me.
Here are the things that bug me:
It’s not what I want it to be, and that is a superbly witty show (it’s a little witty), with literary jokes all the time (like The Gilmore Girls), and characters whose flaws run deep. Like the people who live every single day being regular people who used to have drug addictions. Not all drug addictions wind up in gutters and alleys. Tons and tons of recovering addicts from all sorts of things are hanging out, living life like regular people.
They have a douche jar. They only make one guy pay the douche jar, and his job is to be belittled by an angry boss all the time.
They tell penis jokes constantly. Not penis size jokes, really, just penis existing jokes. Plus, they use the word penis, which should be up there in the things I like heading, but is down here because they use the word penis too much.
Jess is all wide-eyed and innocent and crappy at relationships and awkward about sex, and her worse-at-life roommates are always rescuing her and giving her shitty advice, and it reinforces the notion that proper women require rescuing from themselves, and are generally uninterested in sex.
The underdog guy, Nick, sends the message that in order for a white male to be successful, he needs to be making piles of money and/or an artist. Since Nick is neither, he is a lovelorn idiot whose credit is such shit that he can’t even get a cell phone, even though he is a bartender.
Here’re some secrets that more TV shows should be telling:
So maybe not all shows can be Sex and the City in terms of women who enjoy sex, but those women are depicted as enjoying sex because they’re hot and rich and of course they do, because they can have sex whenever they want all the time, with whomever they want, but they’re shallow and awful and only love jerks! Wait… did a man write that show? hmmm.
None of these things are true, nor are a number of the other things that are pretty prevalently depicted on TV, and I view this as a problem of the general affluence of the people who wind up in the right life circumstances to be TV writers, similar to how politicians have more money than the majority of the people they govern–and always have–and are still counted on to make sane decisions on behalf of the middle class…
I’m starting to think that (most) TV writers are classist, racist, elitist, idiots. Here are some ideas for regular people secrets that could be on TV without making it un-watchable.
- More attractive people are less good at sex (inverse correlation).
- And not all women who enjoy sex are shallow creatures with Prada handbags.
- Sometimes funny people don’t fail (see Louis CK), and people are usually funny because of deep-seated pain or self loathing.
- Bad relationships do not always ruin people.
- Almost nobody can afford designer clothing, and people who do afford it are either 1% rich or in mega debt or buy it used on eBay.
- Finishing law school does not always make people rich and happy.
- Physical fitness or being skinny does not always make people happy.
- Most food service professionals make middle class money or better, and the ones who work in fancy places can outpace entry level lawyers, but with no law school loans.