• ‘New Girl’ comes to SBS On Demand on 1 October. (SBS)Source: SBS
It’s one of the funniest American sitcoms of the last decade. Now ‘New Girl’ is coming to SBS – and here’s why you’re going to fall in love.
Anthony Morris

30 Sep 2019 - 12:14 PM  UPDATED 1 Oct 2019 - 1:24 PM

It’s really funny

New Girl is a finely tuned comedy machine from a time when American sitcoms were at their peak. An angst-free relationship comedy about people who don’t quite have the rest of their lives sorted out, it begins with bubbly thirty-ish teacher Jess (Zooey Deschanel) moving in with three guys after her bad breakup: shiftless bartender and would-be writer Nick (Jake Johnson), seemingly sleazy Entourage-style man on the make Schmidt (Max Greenfield), and Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) who left after one single solitary episode to be replaced by former Latvian basketball star Winston (Lamorne Morris).

It’s the kind of sitcom set-up where you might expect a lot of Jess acting offbeat while the guys supply the comedy reactions, but here everyone rapidly turns out to be weird, including Jess’s best friend (and initially, voice of reason) Cece (Hannah Simone). They’re a fun bunch that audiences want to spend time with – the goal of every American sitcom since Friends.

(Also, New Girl is funnier than Friends.)

It’s also got heart

Originally the show was largely sold on Deschanel’s “adorkable” (actual word used in the promotions) charm. Fortunately, it quickly became clear that this was an ensemble show where the chemistry between the cast was just as important (and just as big a part of the show’s success) as her quirky charm.

It’s a relationship comedy, so it’s no surprise that there’s a will-they-or-won’t-they subplot between Jess and Nick. But it somehow manages to develop naturally and never feel forced – even when later in the run they actually get together then fall apart. And even that isn’t enough to totally dampen the chemistry between them… though when Megan Fox’s character Reagan turns up later in the run (brought in during a stretch when Deschanel was pregnant) it’s a serious speed bump.

There are some great guest stars

Fox’s role was originally a fill-in, but it worked out so well that she returns later on as a semi-regular guest star. She’s not the only character who makes a comeback; remember Coach from the very first episode? He’s back as a regular in season 4 (Damon Wayans Jr. left the show when another sitcom pilot he was in, Happy Endings, was picked up. When that show was cancelled, he was available to return).

There are plenty of other memorable guest stars lurking around during the show’s seven-season run: Adam Brody as Jess’s rubbish ex! Linda Cardellini as Jess’s sister! Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner as Jess’s parents! But the biggest guest star of all is also the most unexpected: Prince.

Supposedly the musical superstar was such a big fan of New Girl he asked Zooey Deschanel personally if he could be on the show, and his appearance as himself – it’s season 3, episode 14 if you want to check it out – is a comedy highlight both for his charming strangeness, and for the way the cast freak out in his presence.

The main cast is even better

Often the lead character in a sitcom is fairly one-note. Think Jerry on Seinfeld: their job is to be the eye in the comedy storm, the sensible one reacting to the craziness around them. But one of the things that makes New Girl so much fun to watch is that everyone’s in on the fun. Jess might be sweet and funny (and often musical; in real life Deschanel is one half of band She & Him), but she can be kind of intense, and that quirkiness can go to some strange places at times.

On the other hand, fiercely determined underachiever Nick is scarred by a bad breakup, a bad attitude towards money, a bad approach to household repairs (he does them himself to save money; he also has no idea what he’s doing) and a string of bad decisions; otherwise, he’s a great guy.

On yet another hand, marketing manager Schmidt initially doesn’t seem like much of a great guy at all; an overly confident ladies’ man who isn’t afraid to throw his money around (and be kind of controlling with it), he’s so consistently awful his flatmates have set up a “douchebag jar” that he has to pay into every time he does something typically douchey. But he’s a childhood friend of Nick’s, his swaggering manner is clearly an over-reaction to his childhood obesity, and – most importantly – he’s really a softie at heart.

And Winston? He’s a bit all over the place, being a former basketball player-turned-nanny-turned-radio-host-turned-scared-of-the-dark-guy-turned-prankster-turned-cop. He’s not great at doing puzzles, he’s even worse at pranks (despite loving them) and he once brought a badger as his guest to a wedding. The one consistent element with him is that he’s intense; when he gets into something, he gives it his all… even when he has no idea what he’s doing.

'True American'

The show’s standout running gag is a mix of a drinking game and that game you play when you’re a kid where you have to cross the room without touching the floor (“the floor is lava”). Initially it seemed to largely involve the cast shouting out Presidents’ names while jumping on furniture. Somehow it’s hilarious to watch: it became the big breakout sensation of the show, even leading to a promotional bus tour hitting 19 US cities in 2012. And though an official set of rules were eventually released, the main rule remains the same: “there are no real rules”.


Follow the author here: Twitter @morrbeat

More from The Guide
Hit the mean streets of Paris with ‘Spiral’
Now in its seventh season, the most compelling crime series going around takes an unblinking look at the coalface of French law enforcement.
'The Hunting' becomes SBS's most successful home-grown drama
From New Zealand to Russia, viewers overseas will soon be watching original Australian SBS drama 'The Hunting'. If you haven't yet seen it, here's your chance locally.
Top 10 new series in October
October offers up a diverse selection of comedy, drama and documentary series that you’ll love, with a dash of trans-Atlantic Nordic Noir thrown in.
Here’s what’s coming to SBS On Demand in October
October abounds with exciting programs. Arriving are bizarre Canadian comedy ‘Letterkenny’, the glorious Italian film ‘Call Me By Your Name’, brand-new Norwegian crime series ‘Wisting’, which also stars Carrie-Anne Moss in a cross-cultural twist on Nordic noir, and the much anticipated third season of ‘Struggle Street’, and so much more.
Here’s what’s leaving SBS On Demand in October
Before they leave SBS On Demand, make sure to catch the always entertaining ‘No Passport Required’, season 6 of French crime series ‘Spiral’ and movies including Julie Delpy’s ‘Two Days in Paris’, Australian horror film ‘100 Bloody Acres’ starring Damon Herriman and for music lovers, ‘Buena Vista Social Club’, as well as plenty more.
What kind of person volunteers to go to prison?
Most of us try to avoid going to gaol… not these plucky volunteers. They've all signed up for '60 Days In' (SBS Viceland, Fri)
French crime series ‘The Crimson Rivers’ runs with sinister twists on murder
Grim and gruesome ritual murders in rural France? Detectives Pierre and Camille are on the (creepy) case.
They went from being Freaks & Geeks to Hollywood's cool kids
Discover how a failed one-season show changed Hollywood forever by making superstars of its completely unknown cast, in 'Freaks & Geeks: The Documentary' (Now streaming).
Eyes on Gilead - 'The Testaments' Book Club

Margaret Atwood has returned to the story of 'The Handmaid's Tale' with her new book, 'The Testaments', and the team from Eyes on Gilead is reuniting for a book club edition of the podcast. Join Fiona, Natalie, Haidee, Sana (and yes, Baby Greta), as they examine: How does the story wrap up? Is it a fitting fall for Gilead? Can we ever look at certain characters in the same way, as we watch future seasons of 'The Handmaid's Tale'?  THIS EPISODE CONTAINS MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS FOR 'THE TESTAMENTS'. 

‘Instinctive Desires’ is the erotic thriller you didn’t know you needed
Follow your instincts to this erotic thriller about passion, intimacy, sex, and trust. Now streaming at SBS On Demand.