Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The State of my TV watching March part I: New Girl

I'm starting a series where I update you on what I've been watching lately:

The Nick-Jess romance on "New Girl" turned me off the show last season but I was pleasantly surprised when I recently tuned into the show.

The Nick-Jess romance appeared to have derailed the show at first, but Liz Meriwether and her staff have navigated this potentially shark jumping storyline into a comfortable groove. The Nick and Jess pairing is heavily downplayed, it doesn't make the characters any less lovably imperfect, and there's still plenty of unresolved sexual tension to go around.

What's seeming to drive the show these days is the group dynamic. The show morphed from its original premise of a highly quirky girl being grounded by three roommates, to an ensemble comedy in the first season. A couple seasons later, the ensemble has gelled so well (both the characters and the actors), that there's a familiar shorthand to all their interactions.

The danger of this is that in shows like "The Cosby Show", "Everybody Loves Raymond", or "Community" that unique style of dialogue starts to feel insiderish. It's difficult to tune into a fourth season episode of any of those shows cold turkey and laugh at the distinct cadences of the show when you're unfamiliar with the joke.

I don't believe "New Girl" has entered this dangerous territory. In fact, the show reminds me of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" for the way in which the characters seem to exist in a subculture of their own that's slightly off-center of the world. In the case of "New Girl" there are plenty of people outside the realm of this Jess-Cece-Schmitt-Winston-Nick quintet that ground us in reality by reacting to these people and their idiosyncrasies.

And speaking of that quintet, the show has now reintegrated Coach into the cast after the cancellation of "Happy Endings" meant that Damon Wayans Jr. now needed a gig. I'm happy to see the gang expand and I am especially happy to see anyone in the Wayans family get a job, but it's somewhat problematic. Damon Wayans Jr. had the token black guy part in the pilot as Coach. I only say that because he was the least developed character. When he was cast in "Happy Endings", the part was recast with Lamorne Morris as a new character, Winston. The in-universe explanation that Coach moved out somewhere and Winston who is returning from a failed basketball career in Lithuania is taking over his fourth of the rent. From what I've seen so far (about five 3rd season episodes), it seems both characters occupy the same niche so I'm hoping for some more differentiation. 

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