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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Girl: "Cece Crashes"

I think the people behind New Girl, with one possible exception, are all trying too hard. First, I appreciate Zooey Deschanel's committment to playing this character to the fullest, but in doing so she is achieving very little comedy. Instead she is just kind of frustrating and unrecognizable as a human being. "Cece Crashes" pivots on her complete and utter inability to act like a reasonable person for any length of time. After her best friend Cece convinces her that her roommate Nick has a crush on her, Zooey winds up freaking out at the supermarket and jumping out of his car and running home. Heck, she doesn't even run away in a vaguely human way. She kind of shuffles and hunches while she's running. This suggests that Ms. Deschanel has a pretty firm grip on the character, but that that character is so fundamentally unrelatable as to wreck the show's whole premise.

Similarly, I get that Schmidt is supposed to be kind of a douchey guy. The show has done a somewhat decent job establishing that his obnoxious behavior is mostly a result of previous obesity limiting his experience with women. Still, his behavior around Cece in last night's episode would have cost him his life savings if the douchebag jar from the pilot were still around. (I guess Damon Wayans, Jr. must have taken it with him.)

The show has some interesting ideas for its characters. I like the idea of both Jess and Schmidt as late bloomers. And I enjoyed the look at how Cece's friendship has conditioned Jess not to expect male attention. But the show has to do a better job of displaying these traits in actual stories, you know, the kind where events happen and people react to them, or take actions and deal with the consequences. The oddest aspect of "Cece Crashes" was Nick's sudden and inexplicable anger at Jess for trying to take care of him, which really seemed to come from out of nowhere.

The show needs to do a better job of earning the emotionally resonant moments between characters. I liked Jess telling Schmidt that he was a good guy "if you ignore all the stuff you do on purpose and focus on the stuff you do by accident." But I would have loved it if it had been more earned.

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