English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Matthias Heyrman

New Girl: Seriously Awkward Silence

New Girl is a show that thrives on awkwardness (as anyone who has read my previous posts knows I love). The show will often build up to dramatic moments of silence where the air becomes stiff and viewers are left thinking how they would respond in such a situation. The genius of New Girl is how this awkward silence is broken by the ridiculousness of the characters’ actions. This is used perfectly in the finale of New Girl, Elaine’s Big Day, during [Spoiler] Cece’s failed marriage, while Jess and Nick’s dysfunctional relationship is falling apart.

Silence can be used in a comedy as a way of changing the mood of the scene to be serious and awkward. This focuses the audience on the careful words or actions of the characters, allowing for the crafting of serious moments in an otherwise light-hearted show. In Se2Ep25, Jess and Nick are in conflict due to their relationship. In a mere 20 minutes, the two begin by having an adorable relationship, which quickly falls right apart and is built immediately back up in 5 minutes without any unbelievable leaps of logic: all thanks to the writer’s use of silence in a particular scene.

Specifically, Jess and Nick are discussing how their relationship is clearly not functioning, and Nick decides to break it off, informing Jess that it was never going to be anything serious anyway and that they should just end it. This strong emotional shock to an otherwise fun show is left in several seconds of silence, where the audience is recoiling from the shock that Jess must be going through. The silence is used to display the thoughts going through Jess’ head as she is being broken up with, being told that her relationship was never meant to be serious in the first place.

Se2Ep25 Some awkward silence

This episode uses silence perfectly at this moment to display a serious moment, where Jess’ emotional struggles are in plain view as there is no comedy to cover it. It then does nothing to break the tension of this silence. Rather than saying something, Jess just awkwardly nods and walks away, leaving Nick in silence as he and the audience must think about the consequences of the episode.

New Girl usually uses silence to indicate a more serious moment, but ultimately breaks it with some awkward comedic moment, such as later in the episode when Schmidt is presented with two girls who love him and ask him to choose, he just stands in silence and after a moment starts running off, breaking silence with comedy. However, in the case of Jess and Nick, the silence is never broken. It is left perpetually as Jess just walks away from Nick. In a comedic show, the silence was written in to create a serious moment that leaves the audience in a real feeling of tension and regret for Nick.

New Girl: Ruining Relationships

New Girl is a show that revolves around the concept of one woman living with 3 men without anything sexual between them, creating an awkward (but hilarious) relationship in which quirks of each sex gets compared mockingly to the other. There was a healthy dynamic between the characters that worked.  However, the writers of New Girl had Jess and Nick kiss in Season 2 Episode 15, Cooler. This may seem romantic, and in the short-term, it adds to the awkward dynamic of New Girl as Nick and Jess try to hide it and move on. Unfortunately, longer-term messes with the dynamic of the characters.

The Kiss that ruined it all Se2Ep15

In a show, movie, cartoon… Whatever… adding a romantic interest between the emotional centre and the more unconventional and independent but favoured character is common. In a classic 5-man band seen in most modern media, this is especially common. Creating a passion between 2 characters that have a spark adds a narrative as their relationship is expanded and explored. However, this does not work as well in New Girl since the entirety of Season and most of Season 2 (yes, even after the kiss) is centred around the tribulations of the relationships of the loft-mates. This does not work as well if two of the loft mates are in a relationship with each other by the end of Season 2.

While I’m waiting for a gif to process, here’s an opinionated description of this plot development. There’s a plot issue. Jess originally joined the loft because she left her ex-boyfriend’s house when he cheated on her. While Jess and Nick as characters are describable as being rather irrational, there’s no logic in the two characters beginning a relationship when they already live together, as this should only lead to Jess having another break-up and having to find another place to live (poor… poor Cece).

Continuing the relationship conundrum: while I watched the show, my favourite part was guessing the characters’ next blunder in relationships. When it seemed that Winston had a stable relationship in season 2, it fell apart. I thought it was a good relationship arc that returned Winston to his original state of Single. Another example of a relationship that completes itself is Cece getting married to… Not Schmidt. The antics in Schmidt’s and Cece’s relationship drove an entire hilarious subplot for much of season 2, and watching Schmidt strive and fail to get Cece back later was hilarious. However, New Girl ended this when Cece was to get married, ending the entire, funny exchange.

Completing a relationship in a show can create an interesting new dynamic. In many cases, the show was teasing the relationship during most of its run, in which case the audience may be excited for the sudden appeasement of their shipping. But in a show like New Girl, which relies on the fact that the characters are individually facing problems that they need each other to solve, putting main characters like Jess and Nick together just bothers the dynamic.

Makin’ Babies: A New Girl Story

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a little Schmidt in a baby carriage. Have I scared you New Girl watchers off yet? No? Good, New Girl‘s S1E21 “Kids” addresses the reality of the relationships of the characters on the show, following the Theme of the complications in love, pregnancy, and the general relationships in the show.

Cece being asked if she used birth control after missing her period S1E21

This episode runs through some relationship issues of the characters of the show. Jess has to babysit her older boyfriend’s preteen daughter, Sarah, who happens to be her student in school as well. Meanwhile, Nick is figuring out his insecurity with having a long-lasting relationship with a mature adult, and Cece must deal with the troubling thought of whether or not she is pregnant with Schmidt’s child. Of course, there is plenty of cringy drama through the episode to ruin every character’s plans, as it also serves to further the topic of the episode.

While at the beginning of the episode everything seems to be working straightforward, as Nick’s current fling girlfriend seems smarter than he is, Jess’ boyfriend’s daughter is the average curious and rude preteen, Cece is the normal rambling mess when it regards her relationship with Schmidt, and Schmidt is his average douchy self. However, this quickly changes as the complicated nature of relationships is revealed. Nick’s girlfriend is 19 and just graduated highschool, as Jess was once even her teacher. The girl that Jess is babysitting has a confusing crush on Nick. And Cece has a total emotional breakdown about possibly being pregnant with a mini-Schmidt.

Cece got her period! Yay!

The episode as a whole serves to explain the fact that relationships are beautiful but confusing by nature. Love is not simple, and it is an emotion that needs processing. Sarah thinks that she is immediately in love with Nick, while despite having a several month long relationship, Schmidt and Cece still will not acknowledge their feelings for each other, while Nick, in general, does not understand his own feelings about what he is seeking in his life in a relationship. The show is arguing throughout this entire chapter of episodes, but specifically, in S1E21 that relationships are difficult, and knowing what someone wants in life regarding love is confusing.

However, at the end of the episode, every character understands themselves and what they want better, as Sarah stops heavily crushing on Nick, Nick realises that he cannot date a 19-year-old out of highschool, and Cece is content with not being pregnant. Though even in the conclusion, Cece and Schmidt’s relationship is not secured, demonstrating again that relationships are never logical or straight, as they depend on the emotions of two people who need to work through what they want themselves. This episode is arguing that no one ever truly knows what they want, but by making mistakes, they can work through and figure out at least what they may want.

New Girl: Are Men Too Competitive?

New Girl is a show based on the experience of an awkward girl moving into an apartment with 3 guys. As a result, we the audience get to see exaggerations of the amazing (-ly awkward and hilarious) differences between the boys and the girls. This is especially emphasised in Season 1 Episode 7 of New Girl “Bells” when the writers show off the more petty and competitive sides of Nick, Schmidt, and Winston, contrasting this to the more gentle and accepting femininity of Jess.

The episode starts off normal and progresses until the main conflicts happen in two different plot lines between Nick and Schmidt, and Winston and Jess, allowing us to look at just how male competition plays out. This begins with Schmidt and Nick arguing over fixing a completely broken toilet, as Schmidt complains about Nick’s jerry-rigged solution involving a water bottle and needing to turn the faucet on before flushing. Schmidt just hires a plumber. Schmidt’s display of wealth over Nick’s handyman attitude bothers Nick, and the two begin a war that involves Nick refusing to use anything that Schmidt bought, while also breaking everything that he fixed for Schmidt (a basketball hoop that Schmidt tries to dunk on comes to mind). Schmidt in response does not let Nick use any of the objects that he bought such as the freezer, couch, conditioner, or carpet. This leaves them into something of a class dispute of how wealth allows people to ignore their problems with money.


Dead Shmidt

Nick Unfixed the Basketball Hoop Se1Ep7

This strange competition is compared then to Jess who has to deal with Winston, to whom competition comes naturally to the point that even Schmidt and Nick ignore their disputes to tell Jess of how competitive Winston gets, specifically with his natural talent at… Everything (man I wish I had that at GT). Unlike the competition between Nick and Schmidt, which escalates until they start a physical fight and have a bro-moment with some beers and agree that they were being stupid, Jess simply confronts Winston about his competitive attitude, rather than trying to out-do him at every turn. This difference points out a clear distinction that the show makes between how men and women deal with competition.


Jess is showed to be rational (despite her goofy character) and simply addresses the problem. She determines that it would be better to just confront Winston about his competitive attitude and ask him to relax, solving the issue. On the other hand, Nick and Schmidt seem to do everything in their power to keep the competition going until one gives up (which would never happen), pointing out the irrational and ridiculous nature of arguments and competition that men seem to have for no other reason than because. In the end, this episode criticises a stereotype of male competitiveness taken to the extreme, and uses Jess, the outlier of the group in the apartment, to remind the audience that sometimes the rational approach is also the best one.

New Girl: Shooting The Funny, The Awkward, and The Normal

Cinematography is one of the primary ways that an idea or feeling is expressed in a video without the use of dialogue or music. The angle of the camera, the length of the scene before a cut, the lighting, positioning of actors, colour scheme, and even additional filler footage are all used to set the stage and set the mood in a TV show. And New Girl uses all of these to their full extent, specifically with shots to contrasting the different characters and create comedic effect.

Examining the episode “Cece Crashes” (Se1Ep5), the cinematography is used to describe different characters and their personalities. For example, cutting to several short shots of Nick, the show’s Everyman, alone on the couch sarcastically commenting on how he wanted to be alone on Friday, and alternating this with shots of his friends and Cece dancing to LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It,” demonstrating his relatable normality as he just wants to relax after a long week and his weird friends are bothering him (I’m writing this despite usually being the weird friend). This is also used with Jess in the opening of the episode when she’s at a nightclub, alternating short shots of Jess awkwardly dancing her way through club-goers and Cece in a row with her current fling, showing her awkwardness, or with Schmidt on the roof alone waiting for Cece (who forgot about him), sunburnt, and hiding from a cat in a bird’s nest, because… Schmidt.

Another way that these short shots are used is for comedic or dramatic effect. This is best used at the way beginning of the episode after Schmidt is “Sheepdogging” Cece to his room. After a series of very confusing shots that build up the awkwardness that New Girl thrives off of, it breaks the slight tension with a short shot of just Cece falling into Schmidt’s bed as Schmidt says “Goodnight, Cece,” to continue this awkwardness by bragging to the other guys that he now has to sleep on the uncomfortable couch. This is also seen relieving the awkward tension between Schmidt and Cece again when she has just woken up and he is blacking out because he is hanging on a pull-up bar doing crunches, and Cece pushes him out of the way and runs off and we’re left with Schmidt asking for a coffee while  comedically blacking out as his attempt at getting attention has failed.

Cece fainting into Schmidt’s bed after a night of drunken… Cece, Se1Ep5

These short shots of the characters reactions and actions through the shenanigans of New Girl demonstrate their individual personalities and quirks in a way that cannot just be done through dialogue or acting. By contrasting things like the awkward dancing with Cece and the normal calmness of Nick, or seeing Cece simply fall into bed alone, New Girl is using cinematography to display the comedic aspects of the show and its characters.

Schmidt cornered by a cat on the roof. Se1Ep5


My First and Hopefully Worst Blog Post

My name is Matthias Heyrman, I’m a Biomedical Engineer (Business Major Eventually) hailing from the hills of Fairfield, CT, hoping to graduate in 2022 but expecting to graduate in 2023. English is by far my worst subject in school. Though I am a self-proclaimed expert in oral communication, and my friends believe that I practice a bit too often. My worst subject though (besides writing) is visual communication. I can neither produce nor understand visual communication, and in trying to improve this fault am practicing to create videos, gifs, and drawings whenever I have spare time (if I have spare time, this IS Georgia Tech).

I generally don’t watch much Television. TV is usually a background noise for when friends are over and I need something to avoid the inevitable awkward silence of life, and the majority of TV that I watch and pay attention to is old but gold BBC content (any Yes, Minister! or Monty Python fans here?) and some more recent British content, since it is not possible to convince my parents to watch more silly American media. I do have the fault of binging shows on Netflix (and via other means) whenever a friend recommends a show that I get caught on, which has occurred with Parks and Rec, Brooklyn 99, Disenchantment, and various other funny but ridiculous shows. But these are largely exceptions in my usual media consumption habits, and taking a class that requires large amounts of TV consumption is going to be a somewhat daunting challenge.

How I usually feel when forced to watch TV

Despite this, my primary means of media consumption are YouTube and Reddit, the dumping ground and front page of the internet respectively. I watch endless amounts of videos ranging from channels like TierZoo, to Kurtzgesagt, to Casey Neistat, to Daily Dose of Internet (recommended for people who wanna see happy 2-3 minute videos every few days).  Unfortunately, due to the nature of the Internet I also get stuck watching endless amounts of content that isn’t very interesting.

None of us like spam but it’s a fact of life when browsing Reddit

I am going to be watching and reviewing the show New Girl, a show about a girl, Jess, moving into an apartment with 3 men in Los Angeles, and the dramatic and ridiculous events that ensue as they must in a Sitcom. I have already seen the first episode of the show and have been resisting binge-watching it in order to get work done in my first year of college, but now I have a school-related excuse to watch a show that I have been interested in for a few weeks, and I hope that studying it will give me greater insight into how Sitcoms use Visual and Circumstantial comedy. All that’s left now is to start binging!

New Girl is for new girls right?

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