From the second Zooey Deschanel’s face appeared on screen in the pilot for New Girl (which happens to be second 0.000001, in tight close-up), it was clear this show was not meant to be your grandma’s sitcom — despite Jess’s fondness for granny panties (more on that later). Telling her humiliating break-up story within the framework of horror clichés, she gave a nod to the hyper-referential hipster characters on which she has made her name. So, the rules were set: If you like Zooey Deschanel, you’d like New Girl. But did the pilot play out that way?
In the show’s opening scene, Jess looked directly through the camera at us, as if to say, “Like me! Get me!” as she offered details of her fresh heartbreak. Let’s just say it started with a risqué, trench coat-clad, surprise drop-in on her boyfriend and quickly devolved into Bridget Jones’ discovery of Daniel Cleaver’s philandering, only without the benefit of a bunny suit and if Bridget endured the added embarrassment of launching into an off-key, self-penned musical number. Like many a comedy heroine before her, Jess tried to bust out of her own shell, and it blew up in her face. It couldn’t have helped that Jess’s first instinct was to name her scandalous sex persona Rebecca Johnson (she ultimately settled on Charlie Sheen-influenced Tiger Boobs).
Cut back to the present, where Jess was no longer talking to us, but to her prospective roommates. She concluded, “So… that happened. I’m sorry, what was the question?” Potential roomie: “Do you have any pets?” Clearly the pay-off in this show will never be the yuk-yuks. There were a few ongoing gags worth noting, such as Jess’s tendency to sing spontaneous theme songs about herself or the events unfolding before her. Also, the Guy-iest of Jess’s new roommates (which is not to say “manliest” since all three are stuck in that first-apartment state of transition between boy and man) is a fellow named Schmidt. He errs on the side of tool so often that his housemates have designated a Douchebag Jar for him.
NEXT: Meet the guys who created the Douchebar Jar