I am relatively new to the New Girl fan base. I started watching weekly in the early part of season two, on a whim. Week by week, New Girl became the show I looked forward to watching the most. And it was all because of a kiss.
But a bit of background on the show, if you haven’t seen it. New Girl is a half-hour sitcom that stars Zooey Deschanel as the one woman who lives in a loft with three dudes. Think Friends but without the hallway separating everyone.
In that vein, a lot of comparisons could be made to other classic comedies — the gang often hangs out in one place, just like Friends; the gang is made up of 3 guys and 1 girl, just like Seinfeld or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; the main story lines often involve will-they-won’t-they love situations. Classic stuff. But New Girl cannot be compared one-to-one to any of these shows. Schmidt is no Kramer. Jess is no Monica. But in a good way! New Girl stands on its own due to the individuality and strength of its performers.
Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Lamorne Morris, Hannah Simone… The cast has great chemistry and the show is full of great physical comedy, small moments, little funny comments. The actors make an decently written episode good and a good script great. What else can you ask for in a sitcom? But I’m going to take a moment and single out the one character I didn’t much care for on first view. Schmidt. At first, I thought he was a d-bag, but he really grew on me over time.
Every week I am delighted and amazed by the physicality of Max Greenfield as Schmidt. Think Buster Keaton who likes to go clubbing and have open-minded, animalistic intercourse. “He’s like Ellis Island in the 1890’s. He accepts everyone.” My favourite running gag is Greenfield jumping off the wall or furniture and shouting “Parkour!” That sounds douche-y, but I assure you it’s very funny. Even if you think Schmidt is an over-the-top d-bag (which many of the other characters seem to do), Schmidt is grounded in his own reality. He genuinely loves the stupid things he loves. He truly cares about his friendships with Nick, Winston and Jess. When he falls in love, he falls hard. See Cece in season one, or Elizabeth, his college years ex-girlfriend in season two. At the end of season two, Cece and Elizabeth confront Schmidt and ask him to choose between them. This situation usually bothers me. I get it. He’s Archie and he has to pick between Betty and Veronica… But New Girl’s rendition of this classic scenario feels truthful. When Schmidt is asked to choose, he cannot. He loves them both in different ways. Instead, Schmidt runs away (in a bit of great physical comedy by Greenfield.)
Now back to the bestest best thing about season two of New Girl: that kiss between Nick and Jess in “Cooler.” Throughout season two, there has been an increasingly sexy and dynamic tension between Nick and Jess. They fight, they flirt, they both deny they might, maybe like each other. Looking back to season one, the chemistry between Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson has always been there, but the writers cranked up the tension between these two characters in season two. Every episode, Nick and Jess had moments that brought them close together; all the while they are fighting against that closeness. They both think dating each other would be stupid. Then during a game of True American during the episode “Cooler”, Nick and Jess are locked in a closet together. The rule is they can’t leave until they kiss. They put it off and put it off; they dare each other; they get really close. Then as Jess leans in for the kiss, Nick shouts “Not like this.” He tries to take it back but Jess knows that statement is important. It’s a game changer. At the end of “Cooler”, Nick pulls Jess into the bestest kiss I have ever seen on TV. It’s hot and what makes it hotter is the 20+ episodes of anticipation that leads up to it, but the performance of Deschanel and Johnson is what sells the moment. Waiting on that kiss is what really made Season 2 memorable for me. It took so long but it was worth the wait. Cuz it was awesome.
Even when the writing is typical sitcom stuff, the actors bring the show to a different level. New Girl had an amazing season. I can’t wait to see what the writers have cookin’ for season three.