I’m not sure how the rest of you feel, but when I think of cinematography I think of CGI explosions and huge blockbuster movies like Star Wars or The Avengers.
This means when looking at the cinematography of a show like New Girl my mindset required an adjustment. But since then, I’ve realized the importance of direction in all forms of media, including television shows. These shows are filled with purposeful decisions made by the director that alter the way in which the show is delivered. And today I’m going to go more into depth on how these nuances guide the production of a New Girl episode!
The most recent episode of New Girl, Naked, was by far my favorite. The concept of this episode is that Jess walks in on a singing and very naked Nick before a big date which results in him losing all self confidence. At the same time Winston is having a hard time finding a job due to his love of basketball. The clever aspects of direction I will focus on are the juxtaposition of setting and action, and the running of parallel story lines.
While watching this episode I had to pause it multiple times because the image on the screen was hilarious. For evidence of this: Please look below.
What makes each of these funny is the fact that the actions being preformed don’t make sense in the given setting. Examples: Dancing naked… in front of a (semi-close) friend, discussing embarrassing moments… in an elevator with a stranger, checking your friend out… while he’s using the urinal. These images all host a contrast between conventional setting and unconventional actions. This is purposefully done by the directing team to make the character’s seem every more ridiculous and hilarious. I think this is a common tactic by the crew for New Girl because of the contrasting nature of the show based in the stark differences between Jess and the guys.
The second aspect of the show which was cleverly directed was the running of similar plot lines. Both Nick and Winston are having confidence issues (Nick with dating life and Winston with his career). Jess and Schmidt respectively work to boost Nick and Winston’s confidence. And as the similar story progress the show quickly pans back and forth between the two parties at play. This move by the director is done to show both the similarities and differences of our characters.
Through this rapid back and forth from scene to scene the audience see’s how Nick and Winston both are doubting themselves and their decisions. The director uses this to create sympathy for the characters. The director also shows the different ways in which characters deal with their doubts (dancing to Jamaican music and crying over one’s wikipedia page). This hilarious contrast is used to get laughs, successfully so I might add.
New Girl certainly isn’t a blockbuster action movie but it’s cinematography and direction should not be ignored.