Since the beginning of time - well, primetime, anyway - women in comedy have been sorted into two categories: sarcastic-funny and quirky-funny. The sarcastic-funny women are the Roseanne Barrs and Chelsea Handlers, the ones who both intimidate and fascinate with their dry, acerbic wit and vulgarity-laced one-liners. You laugh at their humor because it is unexpected; you never quite know what these girls are thinking, and you certainly don't know what they're going to say next.
The quirky female comics, on the other hand, make us laugh because of how relatable and transparent they are. They take the weirdness in all of us and exaggerate it to ridiculous and hilarious proportions. We see pieces of ourselves in them, which makes it OK that we are laughing at them more than with them. They're your Lucille Balls, your Amy Poehlers and, now, your Zooey Deschanels.
Deschanel stars in Fox's new comedy New Girl, a half-hour show about a socially awkward (read: quirky) but lovable 20-something named Jessica "Jess" Day. Jess is reeling from her latest breakup and needs a new apartment because of it, so she moves in with three guys who think she'd offer great insight into the female psyche - and are pretty pumped that her best friend is a model.
The pilot episode, which premiered Sept. 20, revolves around introducing viewers to Jess, who is endearingly weird at best and a steaming heap of crazy at worst. She makes up theme songs for herself, breaks into awkward dances at awkward times and thinks that saying, "Hey there, sailor" is an acceptable way to pick up a guy at a bar. On top of her natural oddities, Jess's breakup has her watching Dirty Dancing and bawling into pints of ice cream at all hours of the night.
As they grow sick of hearing "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" around the clock, the boys attempt to get Jess out of her funk. Personal trainer Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) tries tough love, clever bartender Nick (Jake M. Johnson) babies her and aspiring Lothario Schmidt (Max Greenfield) takes her out on the town. In the end, a rough night for Jess ends with the boys sacrificing their big night out to come to her rescue.
Sweet as it was, the ending of the episode seemed forced, mainly because I didn't understand why the guys grew so fond of Jess so quickly - I certainly hadn't warmed up to her yet. Although Deschanel holds nothing back and scores some laughs for her ridiculous antics, Jess is not as "adorkable" as the Fox promo department wants us to think - quite frankly, the shtick grew tired about halfway through the episode, and I just wanted to see more of the guys. The chemistry and banter between the three male roommates drives the show and is much more believable than just about every aspect of Jess's character.
Still, the show and its titular heroine definitely have potential and could easily follow the path of NBC's Parks and Recreation, which improved dramatically as it matured and found its footing. And if it's not for you, there are plenty more funny small-screen girls to choose from; this fall TV season has a disproportionate amount of female-driven comedies, from CBS's 2 Broke Girls to NBC's Whitney. It's safe to say that comedy is no longer a man's world.