"New Girl" vs. "Happy Endings"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We're a few weeks into the fall television season and I've pretty much dropped all the shows I thought I'd be watching and instead, I'm watching shows I hadn't even heard of. Like "Happy Endings."

Unbeknownst (or mostly just completely forgotten) to me, I'd seen an episode of "Happy Endings" last season, its first. And when I was watching the pilot of "New Girl," I actually thought it was reminiscent of another show I had seen before, but couldn't place. "Happy Endings" is that show.

(Not to mention that there has been some major cast member sharing between the two shows ... Damon Wayans Jr. was one of the roommates in the pilot episode of "New Girl" and a main cast member of "Happy Endings" while the actor who plays one of the main roommates in "New Girl," Max Greenfield, guest-starred as the romantic interest of one of the main "Happy Endings" characters. Phew.)

The premise isn't exactly the same, but it's about a group of 3 girls and 3 guys who have bonded through either old fashioned friendship, romance or, in one case, shared genes. They live in Chicago and they seem to be in their late 20s and early 30s.

source: FOX.com

"New Girl" centers around Jess, who is a cutesy, kitschy girl with pretty much zero social awareness. She's just been dumped by her boyfriend, so she's moved in with 3 guys who try -- pretty aimlessly -- to "fix" her. Naturally, in the process of trying to "fix" Jess, Jess unloads heartwarming lessons on them through her grandma sweater-ed ways.

I'm ready to give up on "New Girl" while I'm almost all caught up on all that I missed last season on "Happy Endings." "New Girl" is 3 episodes in and I just can't see where it's all going ... or rather, that it's going. There's no story, there's just Zooey Deschanel and her cutesy ways, which will inevitably get old ... which, in fact, has already gotten old. How many more awkward dances can she do, how many more social cues can she miss before it's just not funny anymore? Even Zooey Deschanel can't pull Jess off.

source: ABC.com

"Happy Endings" has the advantage of no singular focus ... and much better writing. I think I love each and every one of the characters already, even Max (Adam Pally), the self-absorbed non-gay gay guy and uptight Jane (Eliza Coupe). The dynamics between the characters are so natural that it's hard to believe the cast didn't actually grow up together. It's lighthearted comedy that I don't feel is a chore to sit down to every Wednesday night, and the type I can't bear to stay away from for too long. In a way, it reminds me of an old favorite show of mine, "My Boys," which told the story of tomboy P.J. and her relationship with her 4 close guy friends.

Though "New Girl" strives to set itself apart with its quirkiness and awkward central character, I think it could stand to take a few tips from "Happy Endings" and "My Boys," which feature funny but strong female characters who aren't emotionally feeble or constantly needing to be "saved" by their male counterparts. "New Girl" is heavy-handed in its pro-individualism, but at the end of the day, it just comes across like an after school special.

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