English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Kathryn Earles

Quick, Quirky, Quintessential New Girl

In season 6 episodes 12 and 13, New Girl cinematography and direction is fast paced and filled with humor. While New Girl is a relatively short show, lasting about 20 minutes per episode, the jokes are plentiful, and the shots reflect this. The shortness of the show and its humorous nature means that quick cuts are most popular. While petty banter among the gang consists of many quick shots, the show does have its longer shots. In more serious scenes, there are more long takes, letting the viewer take in the character’s facial features and responses. For example, when Nick’s girlfriend admits to him that she is excited to read his book but worried that she’ll fall asleep, the camera zoned in on her face, letting the viewer see how genuine she is being.

Nick and Reagan share a heart to heart in a long take on the show

Long takes are not confined to serious moments, however. New Girl has a plethora of awkward moments, mostly but not always made possible by the star of the show Jessica Day. In episode 12, The Cubical, Winston got a long shot after he made a bad joke at the dinner table, pausing just long enough to let the awkward set in for the viewer and the other characters.

The show’s color scheme is quite colorful. Jess usually wears a colorful wardrobe consisting of bright reds, yellows and greens. The show’s bright and chipper color scheme is reflective of the show as a whole. New Girl is a comedic sit com. It’s not a drama. It’s not meant to be heavy, and the color scheme reflects that.

So much brightness. So much color. 

The Cubical and Cece’s Boys do not appear to stand out visually in some way from other episodes. The quickness of pace, bright colors, and quirky characters are plentiful. If anything, I would say that there are more longer, serious takes in these two episodes. Nearing the end of the season, the drama is amping up. Nick’s concerns with his girlfriend Reagan are apparent and reflected in close up, longer takes. The same can be said for Jess’s relationship with her boyfriend; though, their relationship is a little more lighthearted.

The Holiday Season and Meaningless Girlfriends

Jess knows what’s up in terms of when it is appropriate to get in the holiday spirit. Correct answer: November 1st. In this week’s episode of New Girl, Jess plans a Secret Santa exchange for the gang. When does she start planning this exchange? Halloween night. Really the morning of November 1st, but you get the point.

Jess getting excited for the holidays

In this blog post, I thought I’d talk about the holiday season. The characters in New Girl made very adult decisions by not focusing solely on the materialistic aspect of Christmas. Even Schmidt who “does not believe in the good Lord” as Cece put it, decided to downplay the gift giving. I think this is a concept that should be more widely accepted. The holidays are more than about spending money! I believe that the months of November and December should be spent drinking hot cocoa and listening to Micael Buble by the fire. None of those things involve sprinting around a mall in a layer of sweat and stress.

Although Jess was a huge advocate for gift giving, the real gift she received was one that could not be wrapped. At the end of season 6 episode 10, Christmas Eve Eve, Jess is surprised by the gang by fake snow and a serenading gospel choir.

Surprised Jess! The gang unveils their gift

This episode exuded the holiday spirit, not in its focus on the Secret Santa exchange but in the friendship evident among Jess, Cece, Schmidt, Nick, and Winston. The characters were thinking of each other in the kindest of ways, thinking of inside jokes they could use to think of funny gifts that the other person would appreciate.

In episode 11, Raisin’s Back, this element of friendship is visible but in a less sappy, lovey, holiday spirit way (which is okay). In this episode, Nick’s girlfriend moves in. This causes a lot of drama because she immediately lies to Nick in that she has a secret apartment. Nick lies to her as well in a lesser but equally painful way. This shows the viewer what has been apparent since episode 1: Jess and Nick are meant to be together, anyone else is meaningless to the plot-line of the show. Nick’s girlfriend is not a kindred spirit. She does not fit in with the effortless yet impeccable friendship of the gang, and therefore, she will not last.

Megan Fox makes an appearance as Nick’s girlfriend.

New Girl’s Nitty Gritty Witty Writing

What would television be without masterful writing? Each television show has a different style of writing that makes it unique, and it is ultimately up to the writers (along with the director) to create a show that resonates with viewers. New Girl does just that, through its witty writing and attention to nitty gritty details that ultimately add a relatable humor to the show.

In the writers’ room for New Girl

In season 6’s “Last Thanksgiving” episode, the gang gets together for a holiday (because they are ~family~). However, chaos ensues as Jess tries to tell Robby, her handicapped friend, that he needs to stay in the friend zone. Schmidt’s father’s cheating scandals make matters worse, and Nick’s girlfriend bales at the last minute. In “James Wonder”, Winston takes on the alias ‘James Wonder’ for no apparent reason other than that he was bored. So while lying about his personal and professional life to Jess’ coworkers, Winston finds himself in a bit of a pickle, but he manages to get himself out of it and help Jess gain the trust and respect of the parents at the elementary school she works at. Are these plot lines ridiculous? Definitely. But, they are written in such a raw, witty way that the viewer can’t help but look past the absurdity and empathize with the characters.

“Last Thanksgiving” was written by Elizabeth Meriwether and Joni Lefkowitz. Meriwether is most well known for her writing for New Girl, No Strings Attached, and The Squid and the Whale. Lefkowitz is best known for Saw, Chasing Life, and Life Partners. Writer Ethan Sandler wrote season 6 episode 8, “James Wonder”. Sandler is known for his writing in Meet the Robinsons, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Princess Diaries. The dialogue is fast paced; jokes are quick, so the viewer either gets it or doesn’t. There is no voice-over, the viewer is intended to be a part of the gang. The writing reflects how the plot is heavily based upon the relationships between the main five characters.

Liz Meriwether, creator, writer and executive producer of new comedy series ‘The New Girl’, takes questions during a panel session at the FOX Summer TCA Press Tour.

Silence is used in many meaningful ways in these two episodes. In “James Wonder”, silence is used to show anticipation and the unknown after Jess made her ‘running for principal’ speech. She clearly thought the audience would not like her speech, and the silence included served to emphasize that point. However, what is most prominent about the writing is its wittiness. The writing in these episodes had a quick and inventive humor that is distinct to the show and its aesthetic. In “Last Thanksgiving”, Schmidt acted very similarly to Buddy the Elf, wanting to spend a ridiculous amount of time with his father participating in holiday festivities. The spats of dialogue and spars between father and son exemplify this wittiness in the writing.

Friendship is what ties this show together! They love each other!

New Girl is its writing. The viewer quickly realizes that friendship is what ties this show together. The viewer wants to be a member of the gang with Cece, Schmidt, Winston, Nick, and, of course, Jess. But it is the writers that make that occur.

Adorkable, Love-Sick, Clueless Jess

Jessica Day has not gotten over her breakup. Despite making a singles-only club in season 6 episode 3 Single and Sufficient, she is still absolutely, irrevocably in love with longtime roommate and best friend Nick Miller. How she decides to deal with this fact, however, is beyond my understanding, and her sad attempts to get over him compose the themes of the beginning of season 6: Jess is adorkable, love-sick, and clueless what to do about it.

Jess does not know what to do about Nick and her one-sided infatuation with him

In episode 5 Jaipur Aviv, Schmidt and Cece start work on their fixer-upper, and naturally everyone else in the gang helps out. While Cece decides what color to paint the bathroom and Winston ponders whether the house was used as the set in an old pornographic film, Nick announces that he wants his new girlfriend to move in. Jess, rather than address the situation like an adult, confronting Nick and telling him about her feelings, decides to spearhead the goal, confronting everyone and pleading with them to let his girlfriend move in. This is central to the theme. Jess loves Nick, and although she cannot love him like she could when they were together, she can show her love by making him happy, allowing and advocating for his new girlfriend to become her new roommate.

You may think: Why would you do this to yourself Jess? Can’t you see this will only make you miserable? Who wants to see their ex-boyfriend that they’re still in love with cozying up to their new girlfriend in the living room?!? Jess’s mind does not work this way, and that’s what makes her adorkable, love-sick, and clueless about how do fix her problems.

This theme continues in episode 6 Ready where Jess announces to the gang that she is “ready” to date other men. It is clear however, that Jess is NOT ready to date other men. Her first date with her singles club friend went so horribly that he ended up in the hospital with missing teeth and stitches.

In episode 6, Jess decides to kiss her new date at the gym, where he ends up knocking 2 teeth out.

The themes of Jess being adorkable, love-sick, and clueless about how to fix her problems are central to the show. Without any of these themes, New Girl would not be nearly as popular, and it would not have Jess and Nick’s relationship be so central to the show and its plot. The premise of the show is that Jess relies on her friends for help and is adorable, clumsy, and makes a massive fool out of herself. The show argues these themes by Jess hiding from Nick physically and emotionally. When will Jess ever be honest with herself and others? Possibly never if these tropes remain true.

New Girl < New Woman

Jessica “Jess” Day is the definition of adorkable, which, according to Urban Dictionary means a person who has an intelligent, quirky, and random personality and combines it with being adorable, cute, or beautiful. This is a very girlish trait (hence the name of the show, New Girl). But after 6 seasons, is Jess owning her womanhood?

Jess trying to be cool but just being weirdThe pilot begins with Jess, still recovering from a recent breakup, moving in with three single guys in the city. I remembered ‘season 1 Jess’ as being clingy, frequently confused, and a hot mess. So, for these blog entries, I decided to see where Jess was 5 seasons later. Starting with season 6 episode 1, I was surprised and a little saddened to see just how little Jess had developed as a character and how similar this episode was to the pilot of the show. The show begins with Jess grieving a breakup with another guy, Nick Miller, her long-time friend and one of the 3 dudes she moved in with in the pilot of the show.

Despite now being well into her 30s, Jess is very much still her old self, and not in a positive way. She’s still clingy, frequently confused, and a hot mess. She’s still trying to be a girl, rather than a woman. Do viewers expect Jess to maintain this girlish, needy character trait? I don’t think so. In fact, I bet viewers are waiting for Jess to woman up.

Jess needs to be a New Woman!!!

Cece, Jess’s best friend and the only other female character on the show, displays a level of confidence and composure that truly exemplifies womanhood. In this episode, Cece and her husband Schmidt buy a house- a major adult move. This shows how Cece has truly settled in and embraced her adulthood while Jess has not. Rather than supporting from afar, Jess chooses to spearhead the house hunt, acting as if she wishes she could go along and continue living with them.

In the second episode of season 6, Jess and Cece attempt to recruit voters for the presidential election. Instead, they end up getting wasted and scammed at a sorority house, not recruiting a single voter. This plot sequence is not abnormal in New Girl; Jess sets out on a goal with noble intentions, ends up screwing up ridiculously, hilarity ensues, and one of the three guys she lives with has to pick up the pieces.

Jess, surrounded by her male roommates (and Cece!) who have to take care of her and all her quirky ways

New Girl could do a much better job addressing gender. While Cece provides a nice foil for Jess in her confidence and street-smarts, both women are constantly being taken care of by the other characters in the show, all of whom are men. The male characters are far from perfect; however, from a ‘who is saving the day’ perspective, the men are holding all the cards.

 

“New Girl.” New Girl Wiki, newgirl.wikia.com/wiki/New_Girl.

“New Girl (TV Series 2011–2018).” IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/title/tt1826940/.

“Adorkable.” Urban Dictionary, www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Adorkable.

 

Buzzing and Blogging

Hello everyone! I’m Katie Earles. My plan is to double major in Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC) and Public Policy and to graduate in spring of 2022 (though I’m not opposed to taking a victory lap and ending up in 2023).

My roommate and I at #TargetNight with Buzz?

If you can’t tell from my majors, I love English. In fact, I probably would’ve majored in it if I had ended up at a liberal arts college. But, because I also love science, and Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts is beyond amazing, I ended up as a Yellow Jacket and couldn’t be happier.

I’ve loved reading and writing ever since I was little. I keep a running list of books I’ve read and books I want to read, so looking at the list I can remember what was going on in my life when I read specific books. Here are a few recommendations if you’re looking for a good book: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Middlesex, Pride and Prejudice, The Glass Castle, Water for Elephants, A Brave New World, My Sister’s Keeper, Americanah, and When Breath Becomes Air.

This is me trying to read in the car and being distracted by how cute my dog is.

In high school, I was an attorney on our mock trial team, and editor on the newspaper, and an actress in many theater productions. I love storytelling, whether that be in an article concerning marijuana use on campus, a song about heartbreak, or a closing argument on behalf of the defense. What I am not so great at, however, is the ability to communicate electronically.

I’m one of those people who always prefers a call rather than a text. If I text someone asking them how their day went and they reply “Fine,” how am I supposed to know if they really mean it? Verbal cues are so so helpful; when talking to someone you instantly know how they’re really feeling, even if their words don’t say so. In this class, I hope to feel like a stronger, more confident electronic communicator.

Frankly, I signed up for this class because I saw we would be watching The Good Place, which is a show I love. I wouldn’t say I watch TV on a regular basis, but I definitely have phases where I’ll watch a show almost religiously. Stranger Things, Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Gilmore Girls, and Psych are a few shows that I’ve watched all the way through. For the following blog posts, I’ve chosen to watch and write about New Girl. I’ve watched a few episodes before, and the characters seem funny and somewhat relatable. Of course, watching any TV show seems like a pretty enjoyable way to do homework.

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