Zooey Deschanel's 'New Girl' only made me miss 'My Boys'

Image credit: Fox

An impressive total of 10.1 million people watched Zooey Deschanel’s New Girl premiere last night. I was one of them. And an extraordinarily large number of people enjoyed the show. I was not one of them.

Admittedly, I was predisposed to not liking it. Though I enjoyed blonde Deschanel in Elf, I have disliked mostly everything brunette Deschanel has done in recent years. That is, besides The Happening, because it’s impossible to dislike a movie that awesomely awful. So while my love for The Happening led me to laugh at the sight of Deschanel falling over a plant in New Girl last night (she’s just there to use the bathroom, guys), I just couldn’t bring myself to crack a smile during any other hijinx during the premiere. Especially since New Girl only made me sad that My Boys is no longer on the air.

After all, there are plenty of similarities between New Girl and Betsy Thomas’ dearly departed TBS series. Both star quirky females. But whereas Jordana Spiro’s P.J. was spunky, confident, and smart, Deschanel’s Jess was — at least in last night’s premiere — desperate, sad, and unabashedly unbearable. In fact, almost every character in New Girl has a My Boys counterpoint: There’s Nick (Jake M. Johnson), the romantic nice guy who, like Kyle Howard’s Bobby, will likely end up romancing the show’s heroine; there’s Coach (Damon Wayans Jr., though not for long), who, like Michael Bunin’s Kenny, doesn’t know how to chat up the opposite sex; there’s Schmidt (Max Greenfield), who, like Jamie Kaler’s Mike, is over-confident in both his ability to attract women and his sense of humor; and then there’s Cece (Hannah), who, like Kellee Stewart’s Stephanie, is the heroine’s sole female friend who just can’t get into this dude stuff. Except, oh yeah, there’s one big difference between these folks: My Boys‘ characters were so multi-dimensional and funny, they felt like they were your own friends. New Girl‘s characters are so obvious and bland, you remember meeting them once at a SigEp frat party and never turning back. (Especially Greenfield’s Schmidt — holy hell, I haven’t seen anything that unfunny since last night’s Leno.)

But perhaps the most jarring difference between the two series was the way they chronicled their heroine’s friendship with the dudes in her life. Whereas My Boys gave us an accurate, sweet portrayal of male-female rapport, New Girl drew a picture of friendship in which irrational, unbalanced women could only be gawked at — and saved by — their male counterparts. Frankly, coming from someone with plenty of male friends in her life, this was downright offensive. Even though I can’t take Deschanel’s manic pixie dream girl act, I can respect the fact that Jess is an individual with a strong personality. But the fact that she simply was not strong enough to pull herself together without the help of three men who previously spent most of their time treating her like a pariah? P.J. would throw a drink at Crowley’s all over that upsetting concept. Actually, no, she would drink it, because why waste a perfectly good beer?

Now, I have to take into account that this was just a pilot. Plenty could change in New Girl‘s future, and, who knows? Perhaps I’ll even find myself liking the show after a few more views. (Hey, I disliked Cougar Town before its unorthodox storytelling won me over.) But, in the meantime, some advice for Jess: Take a page from P.J. and trade in the helpless desperation for robust — and, yes, quirky — confidence. And own your singledom as much as you own that horrible theme song.

How did you feel, PopWatchers? Did you also feel similarly taken aback? Oh, and, also, one more thing before I go: Why did Jess’ trio of boys only agree to take her in when they found out she was friends with models when they clearly have a woman with model looks sitting right in front of them? Oh, that Zooey Deschanel: She’s got glasses and a ponytail! Anybody but her!

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateWardEW

Read more:
Zooey Deschanel’s ‘New Girl’ opens big
‘New Girl’ series premiere recap: It’s Jess!
‘New Girl’ premiere review: Has Fox overdosed you on Zooey Deschanel already?

Comments (142 total) Add your comment
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  • JennieO

    I, too, miss My Boys desperately. Thank goodness, at least, that Kyle Howard has popped up on Royal Pains. I’m willing to give New Girl a try, though, because I actually like Zooey Deschanel. I missed the premiere, though, because my stupid cable crapped out on me. Boo.

    • why?

      I thought New Girl was pretty bad and a total ripoff of My Boys. The fact is if Jess was not good looking her annoying ‘quirks’ would not be tolerated for one second. Zooey Deschanel tries too hard to be out there and comes off as being phony. The best part about 500 Days of Summer was when the awesome Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character met someone else.

      • jong

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      • richk

        Zooey was brilliant in 500 Days of Summer, as was Levitt. Just watched it last night as a matter of fact. We all knew girls like Summer, at least I did. She played the part so well you couldn’t help but to feel so sorry for Levitt’s character.

      • Nee Nee

        It was nothing like My Boys. Completely different premise.

    • beautylover

      I am beautiful woman and I love good man…..inter racial romance is my dream… so I joined —-βlαckwhitеHub.СòM—–it’s where to- connect with beautiful and excellent people! Maybe you wanna ch’eck it out or tell your friends.

      • seattlejohn

        I’m a white guy who enjoys sucking clocks but not during NEW GIRL cause she’s all manic and annoying

    • Lisapeth

      Why are you making me sad My Boys ended again? I largely like Zooey and I understand it was just the pilot, but if they do not tone down the “weird and zany” and give the girl an actual personality I am done. Also, if you are going to do physical comedy you better make darn sure you are good at it (more HIMYM, less awkward tree dancing).

      Plus, I saw the cliche hair burning thing coming that entire scene (shocker, bet nobody else did) and it really pissed me off for some reason. Maybe because it epitomized the whole show, unoriginal and unfunny?

    • Shannon

      I’m sorry… you only liked Zooey in Elf? Did you SEE Yes Man – “I’m not your late night booty call.” – or (500) Days of Summer or ANYTHING?!?!? I LOVE Zooey.

      • Coyote

        She was fantastic on Weeds.

      • PH43

        What about her awesome drug store make up artist side kick in The Good Girl or as the runaway flight attendant big sister in Almost Famous? Zooey is great!

  • Heather

    She was really good as D.G. in Tin Man.

  • Kate

    I miss My Boys too! I didn’t hate the pilot, but I’m not a huge fan of them needing to rescue her. Hopefully the dynamics change in the upcoming episodes.

    • jones

      I agree, but to be fair it was only the first episode and she just broke up with someone.

      • I Liked New Girl

        DITTO. It was only the pilot. Zoey is charming and I laughed at most of the right places. Of course it could use some work frankly who doesn’t need to work to improve themselves. For what its worth I LOVED Cougar Town from the first episode.

      • Viv

        I know! I really liked My Boys and am sad it’s gone BUT this could be a good replacement. Sheesh, it was one episode! I don’t think I’ve ever watched a pilot and thought,. “Wow what great 3 dimensional characters those were” In fact if I did think that after one episode I probably wouldn’t watch the show because it spent too much time telling you everything you need to know about the character in one episode.

    • Lola

      Funny you should mention “My Boys” as I ordered seasons 2 and 3 on DVD yesterday. I must have been thinking about “My Boys” after watching “New Girl” and not realized it. I miss PJ and her boys so much!

  • Monty

    You point out the flaw in your own argument. It’s a pilot. There isn’t enough time to flesh out several 3 dimensional characters. Most characters in pilots have to exist as archetypes, only becoming 3 dimensional after further storytelling. I know we live in the twitter age of the instant reaction, but lets call off the dogs until a few more episodes air. Now, if the true point of this article is to mourn the loss of My Boys, that is one thing, but don’t blast another show with a vaugly similar theme on a compeltely different network out of spite.

    • Betty

      Exactly!

      • why?

        Vaguely similar? Try ripoff, its like Doc Hollywood and Cars – its the same story but different window dressing

      • craftylime

        @Why? Off topic, but I love the movie Doc Hollywood! I’ve never seen Cars, or understood the hype, and now you’ve saved me the trouble of watching it!

    • Samantha

      My thoughts exactly!

    • jj

      sure you can’t show EVERYthing in a pilot, but this was so glossed over as to show NOTHING. i didn’t believe one sentence or relationship of this show. each scene was disconnected with the other. the scene where coach asked her how to talk to a girl? it was an obvious attempt at showing how she was bonding with her flat mates and why they would grow to care about her, but it was rushed, out of nowhere and fell completely flat. they should have not tried so hard to be cutesy and spent at least three episodes showing how she slowly worms her way into the group. (and any girl with straight guy friends knows this takes time. and if you’re at all attractive, you have to deal with the sexual innuendo as well.) there’s a huge well of stories in this concept and they skipped the most interesting thing about the premise! Agreed that My Boys did a much better job mining this concept. I was highly disappointed in New Girl.

      • Stacey

        Agree! It tries way too hard.

    • freak

      i agree with you and my thoughts exactly, well not exactlly maybe they would be worded different, but not exactly cause that would just be weird like two people that dont know each other having the identical thought at the same time about the same show wow, that would be great.
      Dang it where are those pesky pills i need to be taking.
      yeah I agree though, give the show a chance and we will then be able to see if it should stick around.

    • jones

      Agree completely.

    • bruno

      i dunno about that. a lot of pilots have and can succeeded in flushing out their characters so their not at the eye rolling cliche level of these guys. the “jess posse” isn’t even just archetypically standard, they’re boring. already. not a big fan of this show. give me a pilot like raising hope and i’ll want to watch. this rip off? not so much.

    • Jewel

      Agree completely! The author obviously doesn’t like Zooey and has let it seep into her review of the show. Also, I wasn’t a My Boys devotee, but wasn’t the P.J. character kind of a sports loving tomboy? Jess seems to be way more indie-quirky/girly. Anyway, I may be a bit biased myself because I am a Zooey fan and find her completely charming. Admittedly, the pilot wasn’t the best, but I’m willing to stick around. And as another commentator pointed out she was going through a break-up so I bet the sad sack stuff will go by the wayside.

    • hammertime

      Amen.

  • MhM

    ehh..not so much

    • tvfan

      Finally, a comment I can agree with. I did not laugh ONCE for the entire episode. They are going to have to win me over next week or I am gone.

  • Templar

    She was great in Tin Man, too. I liked her, but felt the guys were pale imitations of the posses in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Failure to Launch. An Adam Lamberg or Justin Bartha would have helped immensely.

  • kate

    Well now I do. I will let it have some breathing room because it is both a pilot and our main character was introduced while dealing with a horrible breakup & we met PJ on just another day & it was brando`s breakup that was a jumping off point & she saved him. As we set up some tragically flawed guys I am guessing we see a happier & more confident Jess who starts to help them grow. I hope because I cannot figure out what else to do between glee & raising hope which is my favorite show.

    • dave

      You don’t have kids do you? I don’t know anyone who likes Raising Hope who has kids.

      • jj

        why? do the people you know have kids and suddenly lose their sense of humor?

      • pdxstomp

        I have two kids and love Raising Hope. It is ridiculously irreverant, but hilarious.

      • sara

        I have a daughter and my husband and I love raising hope and have since the first episode aired

      • Jen

        I have a kid and I love Raising Hope!

      • Anonymous

        Your argument makes no sense.

      • Priya

        We have 4 kids and LOVE Raising Hope. I actually think a lot of our friends love it too.

    • Taisei

      Yeah I know her she’s my favoraite acrtess (i also love her singing I have the album she him) I 1st saw her in almost famous i guess you just recently discovered her since you’re mentioning the happening. here’s a list of some movies she’s in:-mumford-all the real girls-elf-bridge to terabitha-the go-getter-tin man(actually is a mini-series that was on the sci-fi channel)-winter passing-failure to launch-manic-the good girlshe was in some episodes of weeds though i don’t know what season it was in(not the 1st one)

  • Lucy

    Jess’s character came off as a little too strong for me, but I really like Zooey Deschanel and I laughed a lot at the pilot last night so I’m hoping Jess’s character will maybe change a little bit. After 45 minutes, she’s a little too strong.

  • Kaiulani

    Thanks for making miss My Boys all over again. Sniff, sniff, a single tear rolling down my cheek. The New Girl has nothing on PJ and the boys!

  • Erin

    Ok, now I don’t feel so crazy, because I had strong thoughts of “My Boys” while watching the pilot last night. Man, I miss that show.

  • Tim

    WORST

  • K. Harker

    What an absurd complaint. Really, does the ONE EPISODE not live up to 4 seasons of character development and narrative? How about giving it half a chance before you decide it’s a pale imitation. That’s some crack entertainment journalism there. Was the My Boys pilot that vastly superior?

  • Betty

    I like the fact that Jess doesn’t have to be a strong capable women at that point in her life. She was just cheated on, and can’t be expected to be “punky, confident, and smart.” Sometimes television needs women that resemble actual people and not these impossibly well put together women that make us feel like crap.

  • RustySh

    Also miss My Boys

  • Andi

    me too, i missed pj and her boys.

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