Why New Girl is the perfect quarantine comfort binge
Like many people around the globe, I recently found myself self-quarantined at home and doing what we do best: binging television shows. Now, I've seen essentially every series that I have any interest in. And that's not a brag, it's actually a bummer, because I wish I could dive in to Friday Night Lights, The Office, The Wire, or many of the other classics for the first time. So I was forced to decide what rewatch I would embark on in the weeks and months to come. Considering the joy that the recently-wrapped 10th season of Curb Your Enthusiasm was bringing me, I settled on the HBO comedy and the ridiculous situations that Larry David puts himself in. I turned on the pilot episode, which is somehow 20 years old, and I very much enjoyed it, while also finding that its cynicism — which I usually can't get enough of — wasn't the right fit for these weird times. Instead, inspired by my colleague Jessica Derschowitz's own rewatch (going at roughly the same pace has only added to the experience), I sought out my old friends at New Girl, whom I only just said goodbye to less than two years ago, and it proved to the perfect comfort food.
It's been two weeks since I started the Fox sitcom that popularized (and then killed) the term "adorkable," and I've already run through almost 100 episodes. I've become so immersed in the world of New Girl that I practically feel like I live in that loft, which is maybe exactly what I needed, since I'd absolutely trade my current sequestered living situation for being stuck in that unrealistic-sized apartment with those five lovable weirdos (with it already so crowded, we'll just have Coach join on Zoom). Hell, it also doesn't hurt that they have their own quarantine experience.
But why else New Girl over other popular comedy binges like The Office, Parks and Recreation, or Scrubs? Well, here's a few reasons: Prank Sinatra, Tran, Julius Pepperwood, "Gave me cookie got you cookie," Furguson, Winston's obsession with Furguson, True American, and a loaded guest roster featuring the likes of Justin Long, Dermot Mulroney, Jamie Lee Curtis, Rob Reiner, Megan Fox, Lizzy Caplan, Prince, Margo Martindale, Olivia Munn, Adam Brody, did I mention Prince?!, Jessica Biel, Nick Kroll, Carla Gugino, Merritt Weaver, and Taylor Swift. Just to name a few.
And despite all of those big names and funny bits, the core group is what makes New Girl special. Zooey Deschanel was always the face of the series, being the titular New Girl, but credit goes to her for slipping in and helping it feel like a true ensemble, something that not all leads would do. While some may disagree, to me, Jess was just the right amount of quirky, letting her be wacky enough to hang with the others and still sane enough to be the rational one. Her model best friend, Cece, might be the most impressive character arc on the show — it would have been easy for Cece to stay judgmental of this new group, thinking herself superior, and then feeling shoehorned in. And yet, thanks to Hannah Simone, Cece evolved — or maybe, considering who her longtime BFF was, just became who she was all along, making for a believable pairing with Schmidt and providing some memorable Winston and Cece mess-arounds.
Speaking of the guys, one of the best things about New Girl is that all three proved to be breakouts at different times. If you asked me my favorite character between Schmidt, Winston, and Nick, my answer would depend on the season. Upon the show's debut, Max Greenfield's neurotic Schmidt was the initial standout, between his fondness for taking off his shirt, trying too hard to woo Cece, or filling up the douchebag jar. Thankfully, he'd add more layers, but that Schmidt was always there. Then, towards the end of season 1, Nick/Jake Johnson would take up the mantle of scene-stealer, with his inability to function as anything other than a hermit, lack of knowledge about how money works, and relationship with Jess (breaking them up in season 3 to delay the inevitable was one of the show's few missteps). Finally, in the most shocking turn, Winston became a guaranteed laugh through the last few seasons. Lamorne Morris and Winston were at a disadvantage from the start, as the character was added in the second episode after Damon Wayans Jr. couldn't continue as Coach past the pilot, and the writers struggled to figure out who this guy was. They made him a former pro basketball player, but he never felt like a jock, and it was only when they fully embraced him as a cat-obsessed eccentric who incorrectly thinks he's a prankmaster that he became the Winnie the Bish we've come to love. (I would have easily watched a Turner & Hooch like spin-off of Winston & Furguson).
For now, some of you may feel like your TV schedule is full, with many shows still airing like business as usual. But, unfortunately, that well will start to run dry in the coming months (even if we're no longer stuck at home, production on every series and film has been delayed). So, when Better Call Saul, Modern Family, Grey's Anatomy, and others wrap up their current run, grab a beer, set up your castle, stand on a chair, and hang with the roommates you wish you had right now.
Zooey Deschanel plays lovable Jess, who is plodding through life with a good group of friends.