New Girl is one of the most popular shows on television today, with a huge fan following and almost as many critics. Starring Zooey Deschanel, the show is centred on her character, Jess, and her hilarious antics as she tries to adjust to a major change in her life. The series began after she breaks up with a long-time boyfriend and moves in with three men after finding their apartment on Craigslist.
The strongest aspect of the show is the character relationships and the quality of dialogue between them. New Girl is the kind of show where, if you’re watching it on your computer, headphones are a must. Witty muttered comments abound, and the characters commonly make both pop culture and more obscure references. The viewers watch Deschanel, queen of all things hipster, play Joni Mitchell’s “River” on repeat to get over a break up, and later do the same by listening to Taylor Swift.
This variety, which arguably all still adds to the “manic pixie dream girl” image of the quirky, cutesy girl that Deschanel personifies, is easy to overlook. Many critics view her image as anti-feminist, a position based off her love for all things feminine, ranging from knitting to cupcakes. Her career as a teacher is one that has also been knocked – instead of taking the view of her job to be one of the most important and influential positions in society, it has been said to add to her overall image. Apparently, she is not an empowering female, and can only deal with children, as she is unable to cope with other adults.
The writers have done a fantastic job of combating this view – as the show has developed, we have seen Jess stand up for her interests, allowing that baking cupcakes and loving ribbons do not make her any less of a feminist than a female lawyer who dresses up in business suits everyday. There is a weird expectation that “funny females” should be feminists, and must somehow assert that females can be as funny as males. New Girl tries to transcend that idea – females are funny, and so are males, and people’s personality traits, interests and preferences do not make up their political and worldviews. It allows adults to act as themselves, whether they act ‘childishly’ or in a more ‘mature’ manner, as perceived by society. It emphasizes that all things are relative and that it is a woman’s (and a man’s!) prerogative to change her mind. But most importantly, it shows the importance of human relationships: how strong ones can transform our identities.