New Girl: the current court of actress, musician and reigning Hipster Queen Zooey Deschanel. A media phenomenon and “adorkable” progenitor that I have managed to avoid, until now.
Sitting down at the weekend, tasked with the daunting task of watching the 23 episode third series of the Fox comedy I had no preconceptions, just a vague knowledge that the show, like its star was very popular.
Set in Los Angeles, New Girl follows the not so unpleasant trials and tribulations of upbeat and bubbly Jess Davies, a kooky school teacher of perpetually wide, non-blinking eyes, shining happy smile, and killer bangs (or fringe, if like me you’re sensitive to the insidious encroachment of American English into our nation’s lexicon). As someone wary of jumping into an ongoing show without any prior plot knowledge, a quick scan of Wikipedia can be very helpful in these circumstances, but from previous experiences with other series, even after reading outlines for every episode I am generally still confused by what is going on.
Not so ‘New Girl’. After just five minutes I was introduced to a familiar set of characters, seemingly constructed from the chopped up corpses of the cast of ‘Friends’ and then stitched back together in random combinations to create “new” and “unique” personalities. This process is somewhat akin to William Burroughs’s ‘cut-up’ writing technique, but without the imagination, drugs or resulting tasty Mugwump jism.
We have, Jess of course, pretty much a straight up ‘Rachel’ archetype. Jake a perennial loveable slacker and everyman mash up of Joey and Mike (Phoebe’s eventual husband) to add a dash of bland manliness. Then there’s Schmidt, a nightmare combo of Chandler and Monica; the formerly obese but now hot, slightly effeminate man child. I could go on but I would spoil the “fun” of recognising the glaringly obvious.
Stereotypical characters, well-trodden Seinfeld-esque plot lines about feuds with restaurant owners and Frasier style farce, could all add up to be a recipe for a brilliant comedy.
But ‘New Girl’ just isn’t funny. The lack of laughs make the well served themes and characterisation appear lazy and generic. Unlike that other hipster comedy, the sadly cancelled ‘Bored to Death’ whose attempts at originality got you through the sometimes hit and miss writing.
Ultimately ‘New Girl’, is nothing more than a light hearted and cheesy soap opera, even the people I know who watch it don’t think it’s particularly good. It’s just sort of nothing. No doubt it will run and run.
New Girl is available to own on Blu-ray and DVD now