New Girl

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New Girl
New Girl Intertitle.png
Genre Sitcom
Created by Elizabeth Meriwether
Starring
Theme music composer
Opening theme "Hey Girl" by Zooey Deschanel[1]
Composer(s) Ludwig Göransson
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 70 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)
  • Zooey Deschanel
  • Erin O'Malley
  • Pavun Shetty
  • Luvh Rakhe
  • Dana Fox
  • David Iserson
  • Ryan Koh
  • Megan Mascena Gaspar
  • Rachel Axler
  • Alex Cuthbertson
  • Matt Fusfeld
  • Bari Halle (pilot only)
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor 20th Television
Broadcast
Original channel Fox
Picture format 720p (16:9 HDTV)
1080i (Channel 4 HD)
Original run September 20, 2011 (2011-09-20) – Present
External links
Website

New Girl is an American sitcom television series that premiered on Fox on September 20, 2011. Developed by Elizabeth Meriwether under the working title Chicks & Dicks, the series revolves around offbeat teacher Jess (Zooey Deschanel) after her moving into an L.A. loft with three men, Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield), and Winston (Lamorne Morris); Jess's best friend Cece (Hannah Simone) and old-turned-new loftmate Coach (Damon Wayans, Jr.) also appear regularly. The show combines comedy and drama elements as the characters, who are in their early thirties, deal with maturing relationships and career choices. The series' third season premiered on September 17, 2013. On March 7, 2014, New Girl was renewed for a fourth season.[2]

Produced in Los Angeles as a single-camera comedy, New Girl is an ensemble show aimed at viewers of both genders. Most episodes are anchored around Jess, who according to series creator Meriwether would have played a side character on other shows. The show's first marketing push was on Zooey Deschanel and the promotional tagline "Simply Adorkable", a portmanteau of "adorable" and "dork". The producers rejected early criticism of Jess's girlishness as they were neither creating a symbol nor wanted to make Jess emblematic of all women. Instead, they aim to be emotionally real and honest with the characters and approach the show from an emotional angle rather than firing punchlines.

New Girl has received favorable responses from critics, who named the show one of the best new comedies of the 2011 fall season. The pilot episode drew 10.28 million U.S. viewers and a 4.8 adults 18–49 demo rating, making it the highest-rated fall debut for a Fox scripted show since 2001. Particular praise has been given to the performances of Deschanel, Greenfield, Johnson and Morris. Max Greenfield was considered the show's breakout star in season 1, before critics named Jake Johnson the breakout star of season 2. The show has been nominated for several awards, including five Golden Globe Awards and five Primetime Emmy Awards.

Plot[edit]

Jessica "Jess" Day (Zooey Deschanel) is a bubbly young woman who teaches at a Los Angeles middle school. Jess begins looking for a new place to live after breaking up with her boyfriend. She answers an ad for a new roommate on Craigslist, and moves in with three young men: Nick, Schmidt, and Coach. After the pilot episode, Winston, who had previously lived in the apartment with Nick and Schmidt, replaces Coach. Cece, Jessica's childhood best friend and a fashion model, also appears in various episodes in the storyline. Coach returns to the loft in season 3.

Cast and characters[edit]

The principal cast of New Girl includes:

  • Zooey Deschanel as Jessica "Jess" Day, a bubbly, offbeat teacher in her late twenties who is originally from Portland, Oregon. In the pilot episode, she moves into the guys' apartment where Nick, Schmidt, and Winston help her move on from a break-up.
  • Jake Johnson as Nicholas "Nick" Miller, a perennial slacker and grumpy young man who is originally from Chicago. He is introduced as a law school drop-out who supports himself by working as a bartender and still struggles from a break-up with his long-term girlfriend.
  • Max Greenfield as Schmidt, an overly confident Jewish ladies' man who is originally from Long Island, New York. Schmidt met Nick and Winston in college while attending Syracuse University, when he was overweight. Since then, he has worked hard to be seen as physically attractive and cool. Because of this, he often says offensive or cocky things and is a successful marketing associate in a female-dominated office, known for his numerous flings with women.
  • Lamorne Morris as Winston Bishop, a competitive and tenacious former basketball player from Chicago and Nick's childhood friend. Losing his post as point guard for a team in the Latvian Basketball League, he returns to America and moves back into the guys' apartment in the second episode. Terrible at many things, he often acts as the group's scapegoat.
  • Hannah Simone as Cecilia "Cece" Parekh, a street-smart and snarky fashion model of Indian heritage. She has been Jess's best friend since childhood. Initially skeptical of Jess's new roommates, Cece becomes interested in Schmidt and tries to keep her fling with him a secret.
  • Damon Wayans, Jr. as Ernie "Coach" (pilot, season 3 credited as "Special Guest Star"):[3] a cocky and driven, yet sometimes awkward former athlete who now works as a personal trainer. He is one of the roommates when Jess first moves into the loft in the pilot but moves out before the second episode, allowing for Winston to take his place. After a break-up with his girlfriend, Coach returns to the loft in season 3's "Coach". He stays for the rest of season 3,[3] and according to Wayans is "definitely going to be there for [season 4]".[4]

Production[edit]

Conception[edit]

Executive producers Dave Finkel, Brett Baer, Elizabeth Meriwether and producer/actress Zooey Deschanel at Paley Fest 2012.

20th Century Fox Television first approached playwright Elizabeth Meriwether in 2008 to develop a pilot that was eventually shelved. After Meriwether's success with the 2011 romantic comedy film No Strings Attached, 20th Century Fox approached her once more, and she pitched an idea for a TV sitcom about an "offbeat girl moving in with three single guys",[5] inspired by her experience of "bouncing from Craigslist sublet to Craigslist sublet, for four years in L.A." when she was in her twenties.[6] This show was initially called Chicks and Dicks, and two of the characters were already similar to the final characters of Jess and Schmidt.[7] The initial idea was a Will & Grace-style comedy inspired by Meriwether's close friendship with a guy after their exes started dating each other.[8] The FOX network liked the script and pursued Zooey Deschanel for the role of Jess,[7] to whose story Meriwether felt most connected.[9] As the script developed, the plot moved on from being about the sexual endeavors of the roommates and became more socially oriented, so the title was changed to New Girl.[10]

As Fox greenlit the show in 2011[7] and ordered an initial 13 episodes,[11] Meriwether approached Jake Kasdan, whom she admired for his work on Freaks and Geeks blending comedy and emotion, to shoot the pilot and subsequent episodes.[7][12] 30 Rock's Brett Baer and Dave Finkel became co-showrunners, although Meriwether is still regarded as the voice behind New Girl.[7] According to The New Republic, Kasdan "helped develop the feel of the show, which is lit more darkly and cinematically than the average sitcom",[7] and Meriwether found the show working best "when you're laughing, but you're a little sad about it".[12] The show attempts to combine "comedy and drama as the five characters explore the difficulties of the decade between 30 and 40, which is when many people take their biggest steps toward maturity" in regards to relationships and careers,[13] which, unlike Friends, is giving the show a "built-in biological clock".[14] Kasdan said that "Their lives are moving forward, [but] they're still trying to hang on to some kind of crazy youth" although he does not "want them ever to seem pathetic."[7]

Screenwriters Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold filed an 87-page lawsuit in January 2014, claiming that New Girl was based on their 2006 script for a proposed television series.[15] Fox responded in April 2014 that in their view, the two works were not substantially similar and that any other similarities stemmed from non-protectable ideas. Thus, they pleaded the judge to dismiss the case.[16]

Casting[edit]

Movie actress and singer-songwriter Zooey Deschanel was in the process of developing a HBO show when she read the New Girl pilot script and responded to the material.[6][17] The character of Jess was not specifically written for Deschanel, but the producers found it a great match and did not need a lot of finetuning.[18] With the support from Fox, Meriwether wanted to make Jess a unique, interesting and funny female character[18][19] that would have been the side character on other shows.[20] Deschanel became a producer on the show and helped build the character,[8] requesting to not play the classic wife character who would be ignored by the guys she tries to keep out of trouble.[21] Meriwether's goal was to write about herself from an honest perspective,[19] with Jess mirroring her at the start and later Deschanel until Jess turned into a "hybrid of me and Zooey, the writers, and the editor".[22] Deschanel described Jess as a part of her, especially in regards to "the sort of enthusiasm and optimism" of her youth. She does not shy away from playing embarrassing scenes or being unattractive,[17] and Kasdan said that "This show advocates for the attractive dork."[18] Although Meriwether had always imagined the show as an ensemble show, Fox would later focus its first marketing push on Zooey Deschanel[23] and gave the show the promotional tagline "Simply Adorkable."[8]

The show's main cast: Zooey Deschanel (Jess), Jake Johnson (Nick), Max Greenfield (Schmidt), Lamorne Morris (Winston), and Hannah Simone (Cece) at Paley Fest 2012.

With Kasdan's advice to cast good actors and write for them instead of shoehorning them into the other roles, Meriwether was prepared to deviate from her pitched characters during casting.[23] Basing Nick Miller on a friend also surnamed Miller,[24] she originally imagined Nick as the smartest one of the group who doesn't need to say that[25] and thought of him as "the everyman one, who's stepping away and commenting on what all the crazy people are doing around him."[23] She sent the New Girl pilot script to movie actor Jake Johnson, with whom she had enjoyed working on No Strings Attached.[26] As he had never auditioned for a TV pilot, she guided him through the audition process.[27] Casting was done mainly through chemistry tests, and Johnson auditioned with Max Greenfield, who impressed the producers in his first audition as Schmidt.[26] The actors auditioning for Schmidt were more varied in appearance than those auditioning for Nick,[27] and Johnson and Greenfield were initially worried that they looked too much alike.[28] Johnson got the role of Nick after he agreed to lose 15 pounds at the network's request;[29] Greenfield learned the same day that he was cast.[28]

Casting the role of "Coach" character took longer.[26] Meriwether originally envisioned Coach as "a fat Jewish guy, like a manchild" and later as "this dumb jock [with] crazy rage problems".[23] David Neher, who would play Schmidt's frenemis Benjamin in two episodes, was among the 400 actors auditioning for Coach before the producers settled on Damon Wayans, Jr..[26] Wayans was expecting his show, the ABC sitcom Happy Endings, to be canceled. When that show was renewed for a second season, Wayans' spot was replaced with Lamorne Morris,[30] who had also read for Coach but had been unavailable for filming the pilot.[18] Meriwether estimated that about 80 percent of the pilot would have needed to be re-shot in order to remove Wayans from the episode, since he was in one of the leading roles of the show.[30] As the producers also liked reflecting the frequent apartment changes in young people's lives,[18] Meriwether, 20th Century Fox and the studio decided to keep the characters and the plot of the pilot episode as they were.[30] Morris joined the show in the second episode of the series when the producers had already broken seven episodes without knowing what the actor was going to be able to do.[23] Wayans returned to New Girl in season 3 for a season-long arc after Happy Endings had gotten cancelled.[3]

Writing[edit]

The New Girl production offices are on the Fox lot in Los Angeles, next to those of Homeland.[13] New Girl had 11 writers during its first season[5] and 15 during the second season,[21] half of them male.[31] Stories are developed in a collaborative effort[5] and are aimed at viewers of both genders.[31] The first season had no planned story arcs, but focused on setting up the characters, while the second season was to show different sides of the characters.[5][32] Overarching storylines usually culminate at a season's end;[33] the actors are generally not told the ending.[34] Meriwether said the writers did not "have a lot of plans. I think we really just to try to go where the show wants to go."[23] The writers challenge themselves to create new stories and to change the show's dynamics to keep things fresh,[35] while aiming to be "as emotionally real as possible" with "Every story having to feel like it was grounded in some emotional arc as opposed to going from the joke into the story."[5] As the show's jokes rely on the actors' performance instead of perfectly constructed punch lines, Meriwether looks for the actors' strengths before writing.[35] The A story generally revolves around Jess and has an emotional core.[36] Still, Meriwether sees the show as an ensemble about friendship with "everybody having their own stories and people being interested in all of the characters."[22]

Each New Girl episode starts out as a pitch page, goes through stages of an outline and a final draft before being filmed and edited,[7] a process which may take weeks.[33] Each stage is approved by Meriwether and her co-showrunners, by the production company Chernin, the Fox studio and the Fox network.[7] One group of writers works on alternate punchlines ("alts"), while another group rebreaks a draft until they find the funniest and most emotionally resonant version. All characters are tried to be tied into the story, and determining their motivation is the major goal so that people will laugh. Before taking the script to the table read with the whole cast on Tuesday, the main writers of an episode continue working on the draft over the weekend and the executive producers polish it.[33] During the first season, Meriwether usually made a final pass at the draft alone because of her film and theater background.[5] The actors' performance influences new story ideas;[5] the actors may also hand in story ideas.[24]

Filming and editing[edit]

The main set, which was built for the pilot and is to represent a factory-turned-loft in downtown L.A., got reused once the show was given a full season.[26] 837 Traction Avenue in Los Angeles stands in as the outside of the show's apartment building.[37] As a single-camera comedy, New Girl neither is performed in front of a studio audience nor has a laugh track.[12] Some scenes are cross-covered, i.e. are filmed with a shooting camera on each person at the same time, to allow for better improvisations.[38] Handheld cameras are avoided for a more filming look.[36]

The actors first receive the script in form of a table draft and film the episode the next Monday, by which time the story may have changed drastically.[25] The script keeps evolving during shooting.[39] The actors first perform scenes as written, then act out the alts or improvise,[6] to later allow the producers and editors to choose the gags that ultimately work best.[33] Morris estimated that 20 percent of each episode are improv.[40] Episodes are generally shot over five days,[36] which may increase to several weeks if weather conditions delay filming outdoor scenes.[33] The scenes are put together in the editing room until they achieve the emotional and comedic tone the producers are looking for.[13] The first cut of generally 27 minutes has to be cut down to the air version's 21 minutes and 35 seconds, which may air as little as a few days later. Only upon completion do the producers know what version ends up in the episode.[33]

True American[edit]

True American is a fictional, convoluted drinking game that the New Girl characters first played in the season 1 episode "Normal". In September 2012, Producer Brett Baer felt the concept of the game "deserves its own episode at some point", but the writers were reluctant to repeat the established rules and rather make it fresh.[41] A version for the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election was planned but never made.[9] The game's eventual second appearance in season 2's "Cooler" was played with the strip-poker version "Clinton Rules", but the exact rules remain unclear even to the actors.[42] True American with updated rules and the resulting hangover were featured in season 3's "Mars Landing". The writers stated to do new True American episodes once each year.[43]

After "Normal" aired, internet sources began to summarize the rules for True American, which the characters described as a mix of a drinking game and Candy Land where the floor is lava; it also involves shouting the names of American presidents.[41][44] The idea of True American came from a New Girl writer who played a similar game in college. As she could not remember the game's exact rules, the writers focused on making the game as funny on the page as possible, but only established chanting "JFK! FDR!" and walking on chairs. As the cast did not understand the game during shooting, the writers created more rules on the spot, advised the actors to "have fun, dig in, jump in" and play it as if "they'd been playing this thing for years and years and years." The high-energy feel of the game and the amounts of coverage made filming True American more challenging for the actors than normal episodes. Producers Dave Finkel, Brett Baer, and writer Luvh Rakhe, came up with most of the obscure American history facts, but much was cut from the finished episode.[21][41]

Fox subsequently released a set of official rules for the game, which can be summarized "There are no real rules".[45] When the promotional New Girl True American Bus Tour went through 19 American cities in 2012,[46] the writers stated lack of time rather than not knowing the rules for not writing down the rules.[41] Liz Meriwether said the game would not be easier to comprehend in later appearances, as the writers' goal is to actually make it harder to understand. She agreed with The A.V. Club that "It's much funnier if the rules make no sense."[9] As more people attempted playing the game in real life,[41] Baer pointed out that most people were "getting too drunk too fast" and did not focus enough on strategy, so the writers were thinking of establishing more rules for guidance.[41] Meriwether advised to "just trust your hearts, get really wasted, and look inside yourselves. I think you'll find the rules were there all along."[12]

Relationships[edit]

Loft dynamics[edit]

Creator Elizabeth Meriwether sees Nick, Schmidt and Winston "on the weirder side of things".[47] The producers stated learning more about the characters by seeing the actors' work and that "We probably rely on them more than we should" to define the characters.[6] For example, the producers found more variety in Nick's character in season 1 and enjoyed Johnson's improvisations, so they relayed Coach's attributed rage issues to Nick.[13][23] Nick is a childhood friend of Winston, has been best friends with Schmidt since his college days and becomes close to Jess, so his character connects the most with the other loftmates and is often part of their stories.[38] Jake Johnson (Nick) noted the contrast to the original plans for his character, as season 1 turned Nick into "an idiot, he's not keeping anyone together",[48] and that he did not fully understand his character in season 1, partly because the character might not have figured himself out at the age of 30.[49] Johnson felt that New Girl initially showed Nick's hate of Schmidt for being a douchebag, but the show later teamed them up more often like The Odd Couple, showing their genuine friendship and simultaneous idiocy as they get into trouble.[50] According to Johnson, he and Max Greenfield (Schmidt) "couldn't be more different [as actors] and it's very much like Nick and Schmidt, but we both really get a kick out of the other guy" on set.[51]

With Winston only being added late to the show, the writers developed the Nick–Winston dynamic in season 1 and sought to figure out Winston's relationship with the other loftmates in season 2.[23] The writers noticed late during the first season that Morris seemed better suited to play a smart character and act as the loft's voice of reason,[13][23] although Meriwether found that when Winston "finally does blow up, he's crazier than all of them"[23] and that he works better "in these kind of crazy, comedic runners, small pieces of the episode"[31] that contrast the relationship dramas of the other main characters.[52] The Winston–Schmidt friendship was developed significantly in the second half of season 2 when the story focus moved to Nick and Jess.[21] The Nick–Jess relationship affects the three guys' friendship as Nick starts being more considerate of Jess's feelings regarding shenanigans.[53] Damon Wayans, Jr. was planned to reprise his role as Coach in at least four episodes in the third season,[54] according to Meriwether "at a time when the roommates are at odds with each other" and "The guys are all fighting for his friendship."[55] The three guys will get intimidated by Coach's return, as he has "this alpha male aggression" and is "that macho, tough-talking guy that they all think is so cool".[47]

With Meriwether's openness regarding straight and gay communities,[29] New Girl also plays with the guys' sexual orientation for humor. One of Winston's recurring alternate persona is Nick's gay lover "Theodore K. Mullens", which started out as an improv of Lamorne Morris (Winston).[23] Johnson thought that Nick and Schmidt had "a pretty funny bromance" with "their own little weird will-they-won't-they".[38] Greenfield improvised kissing Nick a lot in season 1 until that the writers started putting Schmidt–Nick kisses into the script,[28] so that they shared more kisses (Fredo kisses) than Nick and Jess in the first two seasons.[29] The season 2 episode "Models" came about when Meriwether thought the show "needed a love story between Nick and Schmidt or something. We wanted to tell it like a classic rom-com story about Nick and Schmidt and their love of each other".[14]

Nick and Jess[edit]

Season 1 till mid-season 2: Friendship[edit]

Around the time Elizabeth Meriwether was pitching New Girl, she enjoyed the love triangle in the British show Green Wing and thought about developing a triangle between Jess, Nick and Schmidt, an idea she later dismissed by the end of season 1.[23] The first few episodes of season 1 were to establish the chemistry between Jess and Nick, who had both just come out of failed relationships, and who, according to Meriwether, "of all the characters are the two that fit together the best".[56] Among the many considered versions for the ending of the pilot was a kiss between Nick and Jess.[26] After critics picked up on the chemistry between Nick and Jess in the first six episodes, Meriwether said that the characters were not ready to be in a relationship with each other, and that the season was about the growing friendship between Jess and her roommates[56] and Nick and Jess "trying to learn how to be people again and learn how to date again."[6] There were never any plans to turn Nick and Jess into a couple in season 1,[23] and Meriwether believed that although "they're perfect for each other, [...] they're not perfect for each other right now",[57] and that "they have a long way to go, as characters, before they're able to take that step to become a couple."[6]

As the writers wanted New Girl to be more about friendship rather than relationships,[49] they told Deschanel and Johnson to tone down their chemistry and physical interaction in scenes,[38][58] and reduced their characters' interaction in stories until later in the first season,[49] which Johnson believed changed due to the positive fans response to Nick and Jess.[48] Meriwether "love[d] what they bring to each other, what they help each other with. I love crotchety old Nick and Jess's constant optimism that gets under his skin,"[22] a dynamic she said was similar to and influenced by Sam and Diane from Cheers.[14][49] The season 1 finale was about them admitting their deep friendship. Meriwether thought that Jess was not "aware of the attraction and deeper feelings for Nick".[23] In contrast, Jake Johnson thought that "deep down, [Nick]'s in love with her",[8] but would not admit his feelings "because he doesn't want to deal with them".[38] In Meriwether's view, Nick believed they might make a good team as a couple, but he was too afraid of rejection.[49]

However, as "You would be aware of it if you were living with a person and you had that strong of a connection with them" (Meriwether),[57] season 2 was planned to address their special relationship[13] and have them figure out how they could work as a couple despite their different personalities.[59] The writers' intent has always been to develop their relationship organically and realistically.[23] Season 2 began with Jess starting a casual relationship with Sam (David Walton). "Fluffer", originally intented as the sixth episode of season 2 but airing third, was to acknowledge something between Nick and Jess,[14] which Meriwether described as their "confront[ing] the balance of their relationship: How do you have a straight male friend who you're not sleeping with and what are the boundaries of that relationship? At what point are you abusing it?"[59] In the original plans, Nick was going to express his feelings for her, but the writers and the network felt he had more to overcome before he was able to say that. Instead, only Jess acknowledged having thought about a relationship with Nick.[14] A planned mid-season episode in which Nick kisses Jess during his father's funeral was still deemed to early for a resolution in their dynamic. Instead, the writers noticed how connected Nick and Jess were in "A Father's Love" and in "Pepperwood", the latter of which producer Brett Baer saw as them "acting out the playground hair-pulling and teasing and flirtation that goes on when a couple can't really consummate".[21]

"Cooler": First kiss and aftermath[edit]

By "Cooler", the fifteenth episode of season 2, Jess and Sam had started officially dating. "Cooler" was originally written with Schmidt and Jess being forced to kiss behind the blue door as part of the drinking game True American, but the story evolved to have Nick and Jess behind the blue door,[20][21] culminating in Nick's involuntary admission that he wanted the kiss "Not like this". During the episode's filming, the writers felt their first kiss should not feel like part of a game and that the episode's energy had built up to the point that Nick should kiss Jess after the game as a surprise for the audience.[21] The actors were on board with the suggested script change and felt, like the writers, that a kiss could organically happen at this point.[60] Meriwether "wanted it to be genuinely sexy" rather than a joke,[21] and between takes "actually did try to tell [Johnson and Deschanel] how to kiss", but Johnson "just stared at [Meriwether] for a beat, and then, to his credit, nodded and said, 'I think I got it.'"[12] The kiss, which the episode plays in one take without intercutting and ends with Nick's admission he "meant something like that",[60] was filmed as the last scene before the 2012 Christmas break.[61]

Elated that the kiss worked,[21] the writers were also worried it would harm the show,[62] as in Baer's words it "changed the entire landscape for the future of the show".[21] The writers were not sure about the show's new direction, so the characters were "kind of feeling that out" over the next few episodes.[60] All planned stories had to be rewritten over the holidays, and Meriwether's first attempt at rebreaking the next episode, "Table 34", was too emotional and angsty for a sitcom, serving as a learning experience for where the show should not go.[21] The writers later found that the kiss helped them focus and put an extra layer of subtext to the show.[52] As David Walton (Sam) had upcoming acting commitments and the writers felt the Jess–Sam relationship could not survive finding out about the kiss, "Table 34" ends with Sam breaking up with Jess.[21] Even though the following episodes' focus was not always on Nick and Jess, the remainder of the season was to show all roommates confronted with the new situation:[63] Jess and Nick initially avoid confrontation and unavailingly try to continue as friends, while Winston and Schmidt oppose the possible match as they worry about the loft dynamics changing.[61]

The writers found in real life, Nick and Jess would not immediately get together, but instead would "run away from each other pretty hard" and "come back, run away and come back";[62] Nick and Jess would have to deal with the external and internal obstacles before they can consider starting a relationship.[62] By the season's nineteenth episode, "Quick Hardening Caulck", the writers wanted to move Nick and Jess forward without stepping on story opportunities for the finale. Although Nick's actions in "Cooler" had made his crush on Jess clear, the show was never clear on Jess's genuine attraction to him. After the previous episode had had a one-off love interest for Jess, "Quick Hardening Caulck" introduced Nick's new boss and one-off love interest Shane to motivate Nick to get his life incrementally in order, thus triggering Jess's attraction. Meriwether "wanted this combative, confusing, sexy dynamic between them [...] that at any point, they could either fight or fuck";[36] the episode ends with a make-out session that gets interrupted by a broken fishtank. "Chicago" showed a moment of bonding during the funeral of Nick's father, but Jess was aware that Nick's display of affection was coming out of grief.[36]

End of season 2: Beginning of a relationship[edit]

"Neither of them are cool. They're not the kind of people to sleep together and then the next day be like, 'Fuck it, whatever. We're so cool. We had sex.' I think both of them would be really weird. It wouldn't be cool to live with them."

—Jake Johnson (Nick)[38]

Despite worries that it was too soon for the show, the writers felt that in reality, Nick and Jess would sleep with each other after so much confusion since their first kiss.[64] There was "just endless debate" among the writers about whether Nick and Jess should have sex for the first time before or in the finale.[65] Since their having sex in the finale was deemed too expected and showing the aftermath of their sleeping together seemed more appealing than the sex itself,[66] their first time was scheduled to happen in "First Date" and the remainder of the season was planned out accordingly. As Fox ordered an extra episode, their first time was pushed back to the new episode "Virgins", a flashback episode about everyone losing their virginities. In the meantime, "First Date" highlighted the confusion of what dating and hooking up mean, especially as Nick and Jess are roommates. The episode's dilemma is that they can neither walk away from nor commit to a relationship.[36]

Aiming to top the kiss in "Cooler", Meriwether felt that showing the history behind their first times in "Virgins" gave a lot of weight to their first time together.[65] The writers considered several versions, including a long dialogue scene between Nick and Jess right before sex (discarded because it was neither funny nor exciting) and cutting to them in bed right after Jess leaves for the night (a too extreme cheat for the audience). A filmed sequence with jokes between the elevator and bed was cut and replaced with a reshoot where Nicks carries her to the bed. The finished episode ends with a 30 second shot of them post-coital in bed, looking into each other's eyes in silence. The producers found this more exciting than other filmed versions with them kissing,[65] as according to Meriwether, "you can see all of those emotions go across their faces. It felt like that horrible moment that happens in real life where you suddenly realize what you've done and what is it going to mean."[67] The next episode, "Winston's Birthday", keeps Nick and Jess apart so that they cannot figure out their relationship too quickly. It also reintroduces Jess's father stating Nick is not good enough for Jess in his eyes.[65]

Since Nick and Jess had already had their big moments, the season 2 finale was about the direction of their relationship. Breaking them up after all the build-up and getting them together in a later season did not feel right for the writers.[65][67] Instead, they saw this as the beginning of a new story,[52] and a relationship would open up more story possibilities for the future,[68] such as finally exploring Nick as a long-term boyfriend.[21] Set two days after "Virgins", the finale picks up on Jess partly sharing her father's concern about Nick, which keeps her from committing to the relationship.[65] After calling off their relationship, Nick and Jess "uncall" it and drive off together into the unknown. Meriwether wanted the audience to feel like they are "jumping into something that is potentially ill-advised. That they haven't really dealt with all of their issues, but they're kind of making this leap because they feel really strongly about each other".[52] The writers wanted to leave it open beyond that,[52] but said that Jess's concerns would give them a season's worth of relationship conflict.[65]

Season 3[edit]

"In my experience, [relationships] just keep getting messier, so we're hoping they keep messing up in new and unique ways together. They just have such an amazing chemistry and we just want it to feel honest and the way two semi-idiotic people would come together."

—Creator Elizabeth Meriwether[67]

With an "overwhelmingly positive" fan response to Nick and Jess's relationship in season 2,[67] Meriwether felt the show had proven that it "can be about relationships and still be really funny, and have this extra weight and emotional importance that I think ultimately helps the comedy a lot".[31] Pointing to The Office and Parks and Recreation as successful examples for showing progressing romantic relationships, the writers wanted season 3 to focus realistically on the characters' attempt at making their relationship work instead of establishing a break-up scenario.[69] Season 3 was intended to be more serialized than previous seasons and tell an emotional arc of the Nick–Jess relationship.[70] Producer Dave Finkel felt the characters still needed more growth before successfully ending up together, saying "They're not well people, so I gotta believe for comedy's sake that it's not going to go great."[71] Meriwether added that because of their mismatched personalities, season 3 would show Nick and Jess "really about to get into it with each other one way or the other".[52]

To avoid forcing the story somewhere, the writers waited until meeting for season 3 before collectively deciding on Nick and Jess's immediate future.[65] Back in season 2, they had considered opening season 3 with a three-month time jump or picking up the story seconds after the season 2 finale,[68] as well having Nick and Jess go to Mexico out of confusion how to begin being together.[47] After the season 3 premiere does indeed take them to Mexico for a few days, the beginning of the season focuses on establishing the relationship and the resulting conflicts within the loft. In particular Schmidt, whose strong opposition to them being together had been established in season 2's "Parking Spot", worries about losing his best friend and actively but unsuccessfully tries to break them up for the first part of the season. Despite their loftmates' opposition to the relationship, Meriwether believes that the biggest challenge for their relationship continues to be their own internal struggles and their different personalities.[47][69]

The Nick–Jess relationship receives less story focus later on in the season,[69] and guest stars like Taye Diggs in "Coach" prove no threat to their relationship.[72] Meriwether said mid-season how "it's really kind of nice to watch them be happy for a little bit and enjoying it" and admitted that the relationship has "definitely like changed the DNA of the show a little bit, but I think it's important for a show to keep changing and growing and evolving, so that it feels real and it feels like what would really happen to these people."[35] In Meriwether's eyes, Nick changed the most from "this miserable, semialcoholic, angry old man trapped in a young man's body" to a happy, more adjusted man. She felt the relationship neither affected comedic opportunities nor the actors' chemistry, and "It's almost like they're great together in whatever form their relationship takes."[43] On the other hand, she acknowledged that happy relationships are harder to write for in comedy than unhappy ones,[73] and keeping the Nick–Jess dynamic interesting and moving was the writers' most common roadblock in season 3.[74]

Artist Prince, an admitted fan of the show and the Nick–Jess dynamic, appeared in the post-Super Bowl episode in 2014 and, according to producer Brett Baer, was "all about getting to Jess and trying to bring out this inner part of her that hadn't been brought to the forefront"[75] after Nick blurts out he loves her. The episode ends with Jess declaring her love as well. Meriwether summarized that season 3 was not only about Nick and Jess as a couple,[43] but "At the end of the day, this series is about the love story between them."[76] More "big things" are planned for them at the end of the season,[43] as their honeymoon phase ends and they have to face "real obstacles" in their maturing relationship. Complications arise when their exes turn up in "Exes", and later when Jess's sister Abby creates tension in the loft in the "Sister" arc.[73] In "Mars Landing", the season's twentieth episode, Nick and Jess break up mutually after realizing their differences. Jake Johnson explained that "they fight all the time. I think Nick and Jess have a real love for each other, they just can't get along."[77] The remainder of the season is about the roommates negotiating their way in the new living situation. The breakup deeply affects Schmidt, as it reminds him of his parents' divorce.[78] Nick and Jess will not get back together in the season finale.[79]

The breakup was a unanimous decision by the writers, although, like with the "Cooler" kiss, it was not part of the original table draft.[70] Meriwether explained that "it was time to do it" since "television is moving faster these days. People want kind of more plot."[70] In her capacity as a producer, Deschanel said she "knew sort of where I wanted [the relationship] to head and it did. This is obviously a relationship people are really invested in. And when they got us together last year, I knew that they had to break up."[80] Producer Dave Finkel said that "going into the relationship that those two were not perfectly ready for a complete relationship. So we knew there was probably going to rocky. We weren't sure what that meant certainly. It probably wasn't going to be a thing that was going to last the whole series of the show."[70]

Season 4[edit]

After season 3 got "a little heavy" with the emotional Nick–Jess arc, Meriwether was looking forward to season 4 being more lighthearted and funny as earlier seasons. There is still no far-reaching master plan for Nick and Jess, and surprises are possible.[81] As Nick and Jess are exes but also great friends, the writers saw new comedic opportunities in them trying to live together as roommates and dealing with potential jealousy as they date other people.[74] TV Guide hinted at them being unable to live together in season 4.[79] Deschanel said the duration of the relationship was long enough that "for evermore it will be the ghost that haunts these people. I think that makes for a really interesting fourth season and I'm really excited to get into that, because I think now is where it gets interesting."[80] Dave Finkel said the relationship "could come back. It might. We like to play it fast and lose with that kind of stuff and let it be organic and speak to us",[70] but also that "They've got a lot to learn about each other before they can sort of be in each other's life for the long term."[74]

Schmidt and Cece[edit]

Meriwether initially did not plan Schmidt and Cece to ever get together, mainly because she did not see Cece letting that happen.[22] Schmidt hits on Cece in the pilot episode, but she is unimpressed.[23] Noticing an unexpected "strength and a real sexiness [in] Schmidt",[22] and seeing the actors' chemistry together, the writers began writing towards that relationship so that their hook-up in season 1's "Valentine's Day" seemed believable. Meriwether saw Cece's need "for this weird, needy douchebag guy in her life" after her dating several douchey guys early in the season,[23] and Schmidt seized on her vulnerability at a lowpoint and made a move.[22] Meriwether wanted to explore a modern relationship without a will-they-won't-they, where the goal was to reaching that "emotional intimacy – trying to find out what's underneath it all."[39] Hannah Simone (Cece), whom Meriwether felt as "such a great deadpan foil to [Schmidt], and it allows him to go to even crazier places",[23] thought that "there are so many reasons to hide this man".[39] In a later season, Simone felt that "Cece and Schmidt have this incredible connection. They've almost had it right off the bat. [...] They have the foundation of friendship, they have the chemistry, smooth sailing... but Schmidt, as he is prone to do, screws it up."[82]

The writers' plan for season 2 was to end the season with a wedding or an arranged marriage for Cece, and giving her fertility issues in "Eggs" was to accelerate her decision.[24] After Schmidt had dumped her in the season 1 finale, Cece begins dating a nice, loving man named Robby (Nelson Franklin), but she is unsure if she'd rather be with a man like Schmidt. Meanwhile, Schmidt tries to go back to his former self as a lady's man but eventually realizes he wants Cece back.[32] Greenfield expressed an interest that instead of prolonging Schmidt's pursuit of Cece in season 2, he would rather see them get together, possibly getting married and show them as a couple in casual everyday situations, not save it for the end of the series.[50][83] While discussing possible resolutions for Cece's arranged marriage arc at end of season 2, the writers had the idea of starting a love triangle by introducing Schmidt's college girlfriend Elizabeth (Merritt Wever), whom he had dated before he lost weight. By "challenging him to cut the bullshit" and bringing out different sides of his personality, she becomes "a real contender for Schmidt's heart" and, unlike Cece, may actually make him a better person.[65] The writers loved what Wever brought to the show,[52] and the audience responded positively to the new character.[68]

After discarding the idea of Cece actually getting married to Shivrang (Satya Bhabha),[68] the writers settled on Shivrang's undisclosed girlfriend rather than Schmidt to interrupt the wedding in a The Graduate fashion.[65] The writers wanted to end the season with a cliffhanger for one of the romantic pairings of the show, so when Elizabeth and Cece make Schmidt choose between them, Schmidt is unable to decide between the two women he has strong feelings for and runs away.[65] The writers did not work on a resolution before season 3, but acknowledged that they would not have two major couples on the show for an extended period of time unless they "can find two completely different ways that they are in relationships"; they would rather have the characters be single and meet new people.[31] In season 3, Schmidt secretly decides to date both of them because he is too scared of hurting either one of them. The writers wanted to establish this as a beloved character making questionable things "out of weakness, not malice", and it will have repercussions throughout season 3 and affect the loft dynamics once it comes out in the third episode, "Double Date".[47] Cece and Elizabeth both abruptly end their relationship with Schmidt, and Meriwether felt that "It allows you, as time goes on, to forgive the situation. He's on a journey this season; he's really searching."[84]

Cece goes out on a date with newly arrived Coach in "Longest Night Ever", as Meriwether felt "it was sort of interesting to have this new character come in and not really understand all the back story between Cece and Schmidt". There are no further plans for a Cece–Coach romance beyond this one date.[35] Meriwether said in the middle of season 3 that she wanted to delve into the Schmidt–Cece relationship later again, but she "honestly [doesn't] really know what the future is for them."[82] Max Greenfield said that at the end of season 3, Schmidt tries to respect Cece's space and let her be happy with her new boyfriend Buster, as difficult as it may be for him.[78] However, producer Brett Baer said Schmidt's feelings for her come to bear in the season 3 finale, and that he "has decided that he definitely has feelings for her and wants to continue pushing forward."[79]

Release[edit]

Broadcast and ratings[edit]

The New Girl pilot was released via on-demand, iTunes, and TiVO on September 6, 2011[85] before its September 20 premiere on Fox in the United States and on City in Canada.[86] Other international broadcasters include Channel 4 and E4 in the United Kingdom,[87] RTÉ Two in Ireland,[88] Network Ten and Eleven in Australia,[89] and Four in New Zealand.[90] The pilot episode drew 10.28 million U.S. viewers and a 4.8 adults 18–49 demo rating,[91] making it the highest-rated fall debut for a Fox scripted show since The Bernie Mac Show in 2001.[92] The second episode made New Girl the top-rated show on television in the marketing-important 18–49 demographic, improved the rating of its lead-in hit series Glee and beat the long-running hit series NCIS and Dancing with the Stars.[85][93] At this time, Fox ordered 11 additional episodes to the initial 13-episode order, bringing the first season to 24 episodes.[94]

The ratings dropped considerably when the show took a break for baseball, plunging almost 20 percent to a 2.1 rating in the 18–49 audience group.[95] During the 2011-2012 television season, New Girl averaged 8.22 million viewers and a 4.2 adults 18-49 demo rating. In 18-49 demo, it ranked as the fifth highest rated show on Fox and 13th overall.[96] On April 9, 2012, New Girl was officially renewed for a second season of 24 episodes;[97] Fox ordered one more episode during the second half of the season.[98]

On March 4, 2013, the series was renewed for a third season,[99] which premiered on September 17, 2013. New Girl's ratings were cited as an example for changed audience behavior: when including its Live+7 (days) results instead of just Live+SD (same day), the show's viewership almost doubled in the week of October 13–20, 2013 by jumping 89 percent, that week's the biggest percentage gain, to a 3.6 demo rating.[100][101] The total audience of the episode "Sister" grew by 112 percent over thirty days on multi platforms, compared to the Live+SD rating of 3.4.[102] The post-Super Bowl episode "Prince" holds the show's Live+SD viewership record of 26.30 viewers.[103] New Girl was renewed for a fourth season on March 7, 2014.[2]

Season Timeslot (ET) # Ep. Premiered Ended TV season Rank Viewers
(in millions)
18–49
rating
(average)
Date Premiere
viewers
(in millions)
Date Finale
viewers
(in millions)
1st
Tuesday 9:00 p.m.
24
September 20, 2011
10.28[104]
May 8, 2012
5.61[105] 2011–12 #61 8.22[106] 4.2/11[96]
2nd 25
September 25, 2012
5.35[107]
May 14, 2013
4.06[108] 2012–13 #77 5.85[109] 3.2/9[109]
3rd 23
September 17, 2013
5.53[110]
May 6, 2014
TBA 2013–14

DVD releases[edit]

Season Episodes DVD release date
Region 1 Region 2 Region 3 Region 4
Season 1 (2011–12) 24 October 2, 2012 (2012-10-02) December 3, 2012 (2012-12-03) November 2, 2012 (2012-11-02) October 10, 2012 (2012-10-10)
Season 2 (2012–13) 25 October 1, 2013 (2013-10-01) September 27, 2013 (2013-09-27) TBA November 9, 2013 (2013-11-09)
Season 3 (2013–14) 23 TBA TBA TBA TBA

Tie-ins[edit]

  • The Douche Journals: The Definitive Account of One Man's Genius, compiled of the many Schmidtisms from The Douchebag Jar, before Jess moved into the apartment. Released in 2012.[111]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

In June 2011, New Girl was one of eight honorees in the "most exciting new series" category at the 1st Critics' Choice Television Awards, voted by journalists who had seen the pilots.[112] Robert Bianco of USA Today considered New Girl "fall's most promising new series" and praised how Deschanel and Meriwether "have shaped Jess into something we haven't quite seen before – a woman who is sweet yet crass, innocent yet sexy, beautiful yet clumsy, and brash yet irresistibly adorable." However, he noted how "Some people will be resistant to Deschanel's doe-eyed charm; others have a congenital need to insult anyone who most everyone else is praising, particularly if doing so gets them attention."[113] The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman saw the show as a "mostly romantic comedy", and although Jess's adorability "might seem like a thin premise, [...] Meriwether manages to make the situations funny and lets Deschanel channel her charm – a winning combination."[114] David Wiegand of San Francisco Chronicle would rather see the show tone down. He felt "the show's fundamental setup isn't all that inspired, but it could work with smarter writing and better direction, especially with regard to Deschanel", who, in his opinion, overplayed Jess's weird habits "to the point of overkill within the first 10 minutes of the show".[115]

Alan Sepinwall of HitFix considered New Girl "the best new comedy of the fall season, and the only new show I genuinely enjoyed from start to finish" because it was so well developed from the start. He praised Deschanel's "wonderful comic performance" and said that while the supporting actors "all bounce nicely off of Deschanel", the scenes without Deschanel around them fell flat for him.[116] Writing for the Daily News, David Hinckley lauded how none of the characters "settle in as the stereotypes they could easily become", and presumed that all of them would evolve and get smarter as the show progresses.[117] Lori Rack of the Chicago Sun-Times praised the actors' comedic timing and playing off each other. Despite the guys sounding "like nightmares" on paper, "they have endearing, vulnerable cores that make them likable, and occasionally, lovable. [...] New Girl didn't give me as many laugh-out-loud moments as some comedies", but instead made her "feel warm and fuzzy".[118] Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said the show's pilot was "more charming than hilarious" and "cuter than it is funny, but when it does conjure laughs, its style of humor is reminiscent of ABC's Happy Endings".[119]

Critics questioned the portrayal of Jess's girlishness early on.[7] Phillip Maciak of Slant Magazine initially expected New Girl as one of 2011's many new female-centric shows to "be an exemplar of this new age of empowerment, but found instead that "New Girl presents us with a narratively scattered, male fantasy of a show about a cooing woman-child in a polka-dot skirt who literally can't say the word 'penis' without giggling."[120] Meriwether stated it was not the show's goal to create a symbol and, pointing to gender double-standards, rejected opinions that Jess was emblematic of all women.[22] She "was really just writing about myself, and so my main goal is just to give Zooey, really fun, interesting things to do every week, and then just be really honest with myself about the character and present an interesting, funny female character on television."[19] Critics felt the first-season episode "Jess & Julia" was a meta reference to Jess's girliness and the initial "adorkable" ad campaign for New Girl,[9][121] but Meriwether stated the episode was more a response to a controversial New York magazine cover story about Deschanel's personality and her views on women's issues.[9]

Summarizing the first two seasons, Jon Caramanica of The New York Times said "Jess fit into no known mode, sitcom or interpersonal. For much of the [first] season, she remained a cipher. Her interactions with the rest of the crew were unfailingly odd — there was no common language, and that was the root of the show's comedic alchemy, or lack thereof. By the end of that first season, Jess's sharp angles had been sandpapered down a bit, but the show's second season [...] represented a change in approach that has rescued New Girl from its whimsy and turned it into one of the most reliable and reliably affecting sitcoms on television. At root, these changes sprang from the recognition that Ms. Deschanel's charms lie not in her quirk but in her empathy and warmth."[122] Variety's Cynthia Littleton summarized that "The show has drawn praise from critics for its deft mix of offbeat humor that captures the voice of contempo 20-somethings and laugh-out-loud moments, aided by Deschanel's flair for physical comedy."[123] The Huffington Post's Maureen Ryan said New Girl's second season was "doing an ace job of mixing sharp comedic moments and goofball weirdness with excellent character-building."[124]

Many critics considered Max Greenfield the show's breakout star in season 1;[8][13][22][125] The A.V. Club even named Greenfield's Schmidt "the year's breakout TV character" as a "douchebag with a heart of gold".[9] Salon described Schmidt as "a sort of self-created alpha male and a collection of beta male qualities [... which] are performed with such conviction they congeal into a sort of deranged machismo, one slathered in sandalwood-scented lotion. As part of this transition, Schmidt has gone from being a douchebag in the classic model — a guy who, in the pilot, constantly wanted to show off his pecs and scam girls, and seemed capable of doing so — to a douche of a more unique variety."[125] The Huffington Post's Maureen Ryan said how "Schmidt could have easily been 'the dumb guy', or the show could have exploited his status as an eminently mockable douche. But thanks to Max Greenfield's endearing depiction of the would-be ladykiller, there's a lot more the writers have been able to do with the character."[13] Caramanica lamented how Winston as the lone black character "is still an outlier, though far less so than in the first season. He's a sharp foil when other characters, especially Schmidt, get too racially comfortable."[122]

After the teasing of the Nick–Jess relationship in the first season, critics named Jake Johnson the breakout star of season 2 as the characters' romance unfolded.[51][126] Saying that "Not since Ross and Rachel's tango on Friends has watching a comedy romance been so satisfying", The Hollywood Reporter said the producers "did the impossible by engaging their leads in a love story, which only strengthened the artistry of the single-cam comedy".[127] The New York Times said season 2 "erupted in fantastic and bizarre fits and starts" because of the characters' unmatched personalities, and lauded the writers for not playing up the will-they-or-won't-they dynamic. By emphasing how the characters got together, the show "made for hilarious setups [that occasionally led] to high-level Abbott and Costello slapstick. They have a modern love. [...] Together, they are fully functional. They make each other human."[122] The Huffington Post's Maureen Ryan was unconcerned about getting Jess and Nick together, as because of immaturity "they're bound to keep on making a lot of amusing and painful mistakes, sometimes with each other. Those choices can be both hilarious and sad, and New Girl has gotten a lot of mileage out of both those areas."[124] The continued Nick–Jess relationship was criticized in season 3 for dropping the characters' personalities, lack of tension,[128] and for neglecting the show's female friendship between Jess and Cece.[129] TV Guide's Natalie Abrams felt that during the first half of season 3 that "bringing them together caused that [former] spark [between them] to diminish",[73] while Hitfix's Alan Sepinwall and The A.V. Club's David Sims found that the show's perceived decline in quality had less to with the Nick–Jess relationship but with the handling of Schmidt's cheating arc and the re-introduction of Coach.[130][131]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The show has been nominated for several awards, including five Golden Globe Awards and five Primetime Emmy Awards.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]


Preceded by
Elementary
2013
Super Bowl lead-out program (with Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
New Girl
2014
Succeeded by
TBA
2015