By six years in, a podcast has become a well-oiled machine. The premise has been well established and settled into. The core cast will have been decided upon, although some may have come and gone since the beginning. For faithful viewers tuning in now, watching a sitcom’s sixth season is like settling into a well-loved, comfortable armchair. Albeit one that still has the capacity to make you laugh like a drain. That’s the position New Girl finds itself in this fall.
The Zooey Deschanel-starring comedy began with the requisite high concept: the “adorkable” star was recently single, full of beans but in need of a helping hand to get her back on her feet. After answering a Craiglist ad, she started living with a group of dysfunctional man-children in their impossibly chic Los Angeles loft. There’s laughs a-plenty, but along the way she manages to teach them some things women, and they teach her some things about…well, that’s still not totally clear. From there the show has become a firm favorite of the discerning sitcom fan, and an integral part of FOX’s comedy lineup.
Creator Elizabeth Merriweather came from the stage, transitioning to film with the script for Natalie Portman romcom No Strings Attached. New Girl feels like the perfect synthesis of the two: the witty, dialogue-driven back-and-forths of the cast sometimes have the feel of a live performance, but the lightness of touch and large cast (which has included small roles for actors from Adam Brody to Jamie Lee Curtis) of a film comedy. It’s consistently one of the funniest, warmest and most human comedies airing right now.
Perhaps you missed the New Girl hype train’s initial departing. Perhaps you hopped off a while ago, and need convincing back aboard. If you’ve room in your life for a comedy that’s as frequently warm and sincere as it is genuinely demented, here are eight reasons to convince you to stream the latest season of New Girl through your VIDGO subscription this fall.
Season six of New Girl has certainly kept a comfortable rhythm through the episodes available to stream thus far. That’s not to say the show is out of surprises, however. To begin with, the writers didn’t seem sure what to do with Lamorne Morris’s Winston. The pilot episode of the series included Damon Wayons Jr. as Coach, the sporty fourth member of the loft. Then Happy Endings got picked up and he had to star in that instead. Morris was brought on board as a last-minute replacement. Winston was the opposite of Coach and…that was about it.
There wasn’t really much else to the character apart from that. At least at first. Since then, Winston has slowly worked his way up the rungs to become the show’s MVP. Somehow he manages to be even more offbeat than Nick, with a somehow stranger love life than Schmidt and boasting a level of whimsy Jess should be envious of. His character has developed even further this season. Having joined the police force (after spells as a basketball pundit and cat breeder), he’s finally begun down the road of a romantic subplot he’s long since been due. And Morris is finally having his moment in the sun as the most gifted performer on the cast.
Nick Miller is New Girl’s most immovable character. He is defined by his resistance to change. He is a slacker that is very much set in his ways, eccentric though they are. So here’s a shock for you: this season, he’s been growing. If not exactly maturing. No spoilers, but Jake Johnson’s Nick finally finished his zombie novel. The affront to literature the shiftless slacker has been working on, on-and-off, since the show began. The nature of the sitcom precludes big character transformations. After all, it’s not a serialized show like The Walking Dead.
There’s no guarantee people are watching the show in order. It could be in syndication, they could catch the odd episode on TV, or be cherry-picking episodes to stream on services like VIDGO. In spite of all that, it’s been rewarding to see the slow developments in the lives of New Girl’s characters. It happens at a slow pace, but sometimes that’s how it works in real life, too. It rewards long-term viewers and provides fertile comedic ground for the newbies as well.
The most seismic shift in the New Girl status quo this season is undoubtedly the marriage of Max Greenfield’s Schmidt to Hannah Simone’s Cece. The two have been through a lot, both alone and together. The former has seen his advertising career take a major downturn, whilst the latter quitting her career as a model to go back to school. In the end, though, they’re characters who have always been defined by their interactions with each other. They had a classic on-again, off-again sitcom romance.
Except now it is very much “on” in a more permanent manner. End of tradition! That would be a big enough change in itself, but then there’s the more practical concerns for the characters: Cece and Schmidt clearly aren’t about to leave the show, but they do have to leave the apartment where it’s largely set. Some great stories have already been wrung from their finding and decorating a place of their own, and there’s likely to be many more great turns as a result of the married couple’s new digs.
Those are some significant developments for the show, which nonetheless remains nominally similar to the setup audiences initially fell for. Last season saw a particularly huge change when star Zooey Deschanel got pregnant, meaning Jess just didn’t appear for a whole bunch of episodes. On the show, this was explained away as her character having to be secluded as part of jury duty. It also left a female-lead-shaped-hole in the ensemble.
Step forward Megan Fox. Not only did the legitimate film star bring some grade-A Hollywood talent and surprisingly sharp comedic chops to her role as pharmaceutical sales rep Reagan, she was also the motivation Nick needed to step up his game a little. Their continuing long distance relationship has been a source of drama and laughs alike. She’s due to return later in the sixth season; seeing her and Zooey Deschanel play off each other is sure to be a sight worth seeing.
One of the great innovations of New Girl — and there are many — is the inscrutable drinking game known as True American. Most often busted out in episodes where hard drinking leads to the characters spilling some uncomfortable home truths and emotional secrets, the rules of the game are…hard to describe. And don’t exist, despite FOX site claiming to hold them claiming otherwise. Creator Elizabeth Merriweather advises fans wishing to play to “just trust your hearts, get really wasted, and look inside yourselves. I think you’ll find the rules were there all along.”
So yeah, there’s no rules. Or rather, there are a lot of rules. Each season a new game of True American gets played, and so every year the writers cook up a new batch of rules. Whilst the show skipped over the chance to reference the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election, in progress while it was airing, it had some nods to this year’s race among all the inebriated mayhem. That was after an episode involving Jess and Cece stumping for Hillary Clinton and trying to convince Schmidt out of his conservative political leanings. In divisive times, True American helps bring people together. So you better get caught up with the new additions to those very, very loose rules.
In the early days, New Girl was Zooey Deschanel. Well, duh: the title referred to the fact that she was the new girl in the apartment otherwise made up of dudes. But the show’s marketing and promotion leaned heavily on the actor and musician, hot on the heels of her starring role in romantic drama-comedy (500) Days of Summer and her growing notoriety as the ukelele-strumming half of indie duo She & Him. It was sold as a show about a cool, quirky single lady. Insufferable to some, but endlessly entertaining for those that accepted her into their heart.
Admittedly, Deschanel’s Jess character is still all of the above. She quickly revealed herself to be so much more, however. A genuine eccentric with a passion for education and some frankly bizarre bedroom proclivities, she’s a much more complicated proposition than first appearances suggested. After being subbed out for Megan Fox for a lion’s share of the fifth season, Deschanel returned to New Girl with something to prove. So far she’s knocked it out of the park, bringing some of her best physical comedy, line deliveries and more serious moments — as she struggles to deal with her returning feelings for Nick — to Jess in her sixth year in the loft.
Sitcom crossovers are a time-honored tradition. NBC’s “blackout” night had every New York-set sitcom on the network suffering from a power outage for an episode, with characters from Friends and Mad About You crossing over in the darkened streets (Seinfeld, notably, refused to take part). Elsewhere in the Must See TV world, characters from Wings, Cheers and Frasier have all made appearances on each other’s shows. There was even the time the casts of CSI and Two And A Half Men crossed paths! That really happened. It was pretty weird, unsurprisingly.
It’s been a while since we had one of those major, heavily-promoted crossovers. Which is why FOX made such a big deal about mashing up the two sitcom jewels in their crown. New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine crossed lanes for a two-part crossover that aired as part of the show’s latest seasons. Zooey Deschanel’s appearance in the cop comedy proved to be a quick one, but the respective episode of New Girl included her crossing paths with Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher and Chelsea Peretti’s characters, whilst Joe Lo Truglio’s hapless Detective Boyle unwittingly made life hell for Nick and Winston. A lot of fun, and more than worth a watch on VIDGO.
When a sitcom begins, it lives or dies on the strength of its premise. That stands for the show itself and each individual episode. A series needs a hook on which the audience can hold onto, something that gets them to tune in in the first place. For New Girl that was as simple as “Zooey Deschanel is a single gal who moves in with a group of clueless dudes, and together they navigate the world of modern dating.” That’s precisely what the show was, for a little while anyway.
Most episodes revolved around the core cast’s fortune — more frequently misfortune — when it came to love and romance. There would be A, B and C stories that pushed the limits of credulity, as the characters cooked up outrageous schemes to get what they wanted, whether it was a promotion at work or a friend who will listen uncritically to their problems (because the friend in question is a mute, elderly Asian man they meet on a park bench).
Past a certain point, the premise isn’t quite as important. After a few years. something magic happens. The cast starts to gel. The writers really nail what their relationships are, their conflicts, how they compliment each other. Instead of fitting these weirdos into crazy stories, the stories arrive naturally from the interplay of the characters themselves.
New Girl is still one of the most consistently sharp, funny and surprising shows on television. For consistent viewers, it’s now also an excuse to hang out with a group of characters you’ve grown to know and love other the course of several years. For new viewers, what are you waiting for? Get streaming on VIDGO so you can have as much affection for these goofballs as we do.
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