New Girl: the modern sitcom

Why the sitcom isn’t actually “dead”


Promotional image featuring cast of The New Girl who are proof that the sit-com is not dead yet.

Many television elitists boldly declare the sitcom dead, seeing that any new attempt at the classic single-camera dramedy set-up to be a thing of the past, while the TV ceases to be the “idiot box” it once was. To these people, I say: get over yourself and watch New Girl.

New Girl is the seminal work of the modern sitcom. Running throughout the entire 2010’s, the show is a callback to the classic trope of a few thirty-something-year-olds living together and figuring out their lives, a la Friends or How I Met Your Mother. The center of this premise is Jess (Zooey Deschanel), a woman, who, after leaving her cheating boyfriend, moves into an apartment of three men.

Zooey Deschanel as Jessica Day, the show’s main character

As in all great sitcoms, hijinks ensue, and the at first awkward and distant apartment mates becomes as close as family, supporting each other while experiencing new adventures along the way.

In lieu of the sacred format laid out by sitcom purists, New Girl chooses to skip the laugh track and live studio audience, establishing itself as a truly modern show. Because of this, the show adapts itself and gives the comedic timing of a movie or more serious show rather than something like its predecessors. Along with this, the sitcom has a more relaxed style with its script compared to other shows, with star Lamorne Morris claiming, “I would say that 20 percent [of each episode] is improv,” in an interview with Splash.

Nick, Schmidt, and Winston: the boys of New Girl

Actress and musician Zooey Deschanel plays the titular star of the show, Jess, an often awkward yet lovable teacher who acts as the glue holding the show together. While not written specifically for her, the New Girl’s creators felt that Deschanel was perfect for the role, and barely considered any other actress, according to showrunner Liz Meriwether.

As for the other roommates, Jake Johnson plays Nick, an unmotivated bartender and love interest for Jess, starring alongside Max Greenfield as the over-confident Schmidt and Lamorne Morris as former basketball player, Winston. Also appearing later in the series is Coach, portrayed by Damon Wayans, Jr.

Airing Tuesday nights for seven years, New Girl did considerably well for a mid-2010s sitcom, peaking with over 10 million viewers in just its first season. Now, aside from its occasional syndicated re-runs on MTV or TBS, most watch the show on streaming services, specifically Netflix.

So, now two years after the shows finale, New Girl seems to prove itself as the great breath of life into the sitcom, that many felt it so desperately needed — with a great concept, pace, and most importantly, character chemistry. New Girl did it all to become the great sitcom of its time. However, in the wake of the show, some cast members have reunited to feature on a new series, an adult animated comedy called Hoops. While vastly different from the realm of New Girl, hopefully this proves to be something worthwhile.

A screen-cap from Hoops