NEW GIRL: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
Zooey Deschanel as JESS
Jake Johnson as NICK
Max Greenfield as SCHMIDT
Lamorne Morris as WINSTON
Hannah Simone as CECE
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Created by: Elizabeth Merriwether
BY KEVIN CARR
I only reluctantly started watching “New Girl” when it premiered in 2011, bracing myself for what I was sure would be a terrible series. After all, I had grown so weary of the manic pixie dreamgirl that Zooey Deschanel often played in films like “(500) Days of Summer.”
However, I fell in love with the series in its first season for its fun quirkiness and honesty about adulthood and the longing to stay young at heart. By the time we entered the second season, things had continued looking up for the series.
The show follows four roommates in a Los Angeles loft apartment. Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Winston (Lamorne Morris) have been friends for years, and needing a fourth roommate, they bring in Jess (Deschanel). Everyone in the loft has his or her own strange quirks and trouble dealing with realities of life, which often results in some pretty funny moments.
Rather than having Deschanel play the put-upon nutjob, or on the opposite side of the coin play the magical quirky girl who always manages to fix things, Jess comes across a real person with a real personality. There’s also the inevitable sexual tension that Jess has with Nick. However, rather than spinning the entire series around the “will they or won’t they” storyline, the show lets this relationship develop to the logical end.
Still, Nick and Jess’s storylines are not only about each other. We see Jess navigating (often unsuccessfully) the dating world and juggling her career as a teacher (which isn’t always very accurate, my teacher wife informs me, but we can’t all be perfect). Nick deals with his own personal problems including family issues with the late Dennis Farina as his father.
Schmidt often plays the fool, and his sexually-charged yet socially awkward relationship with Cece (Hannah Simone) has plenty of challenges. Cece represents the now-trendy use of an Indian character, which we see on many shows now presumably to increase global audience. Dealing with the Indian culture gets sloppy at times, trying to juggle the issue of arranged marriage in a strictly American show, though “New Girl” handles this much better than something like “Royal Pains.”
Not to be left in the dust, Winston has finally started to find his own voice. His was the hardest character to assimilate, mostly because he was a replacement for Damon Wayans Jr. as Coach, who left the show after the pilot to star in the similarly-toned show “Happy Endings,” which has since been canceled. (Poor Wayans. Looks like Morris got the better deal on this one.)
Winston has drifted from the original Coach character to be a bit of an outsider but to also be the wild card. It took some time for the series to allow him to shoulder some of the screwball comedy, too often relying on him as the straight man. However, when he is given a chance to be as silly and awkward as the rest of the loft-mates, Morris really works in the role.
“New Girl” is one of the more surprising and charming series on television today. Along with shows like “The Mindy Project” and “Parks and Recreation,” it is helping usher in a renaissance of single-camera situation comedy that could rival the glory days of four-camera series in the 70s and 80s.
The season 2 DVD set includes three discs with 25 episodes. While not loaded with special features, there are some nice options, including an extended version of an episode, audio commentary on another, deleted scenes, a gag reel and a featurette called “Full of Schmidt” which highlights some of the character’s best moments from the season.