How to Play True American From ‘New Girl’

Hannah Simone and Zooey Deschanel playing True American in an episode of 'New Girl'
Jess and Cece playing True American before Cece and Schmidt’s wedding | FOX via Getty Images

Have you ever seen New Girl? The show debuted on Fox on September 20, 2011, and continued to run strong up until 2018. During its seven-year run, Zooey Deschanel and her ragtag roomies captivated audiences worldwide. There was just something alluring about watching this particular groups of character live their lives.

Despite being off the air, the show has managed to stick with those who tuned in every week. Things like the songs and even the infamous drinking game are definitely ingrained into entertainment history. 

What is True American?

True American is a drinking game that makes its first appearance in the episode Normal. The game is a hybrid of your run-of-the-mill booze game and the kid’s classic, Candy Land. According to some of the beloved New Girl characters:

“So, it’s 50% drinking game, 50% life-size Candy Land.” – Jess

“Well, it’s more like 75 drinking, 20 Candy Land, and by the way, the floor is molten lava.” – Schmidt

“It’s actually 90% drinking, and then it’s got a loose Candy Land-like structure to it.” – Winston

All of these statements, while slightly conflicting, are still pretty accurate. If your interest has been piqued read on to learn how you can turn the hectic True American drinking game on the show into a real-world party game none of your friends will ever forget. You’ll need plenty of room just like the New Girl loft to get started.

Setting up True American from ‘New Girl’

So here’s how True American works. Players take turns attempting to gain moves. With these moves, they navigate around several zones utilizing only tables, chairs, and cushions to get around. Why? The floor is lava! In the middle of the play zone, you have the castle, which is made up of a bottle of alcohol (whiskey) and an ungodly amount of beers. This is known as the king and his pawns. As you make your way through the game, you remove beers and drink them. Once all the beers are gone the first player to reach the King and take a swig wins! The game has been tweaked a bit for playability but don’t worry; it’s retained the New Girl feel!

  1. Pick Teams: You don’t get the privilege of shouting out your besties’ names in True American. Instead, hold up a random number of fingers to your forehead. Anyone with fewer fingers than you becomes your teammate. Or anyone with the same number becomes your teammate. Although you probably don’t need teammates anyway.
  2. Set up your castle: You want a single bottle of alcohol with four lines of beers radiating from the “King” forming an “X.” The amount of beers you choose is up to you and is typically related to the number of players in the game. These beer/pawn lines also coincide with the divisions between the zones which we’ll get into next.
  3. Understanding zones: There are four zones. Each zone has five spaces with the center space being the only one where players can grab pawns. That means the center space is closest to the castle, and the first and last space of the zone are furthest away. 

Now you’re ready to play the game!

The game starts with a shotgun contest. The player who finishes their beer first wins. The winner shouts, “One, two three, JFK!” The other players yell “FDR,” before grabbing a pawn from the Castle and retreating to a space in one of the zones. The game goes clockwise. If it’s your turn, you can move once, but other players will need to win moves.

To win moves:

  • Forehead fingers: All players yell “One, two, three” and then hold their fingers up to their foreheads. Anyone with a number that no one else has wins and may move one spot. 
  • Quote competition: The player whose turn it is may speak a historical or pop culture quote. Those who chime in and complete it simultaneously may move two spots.
  • Commonground: The player whose turn it is can say two people, places, or things. Those who respond with what they have in common can move three spaces. 
  • Note: You must always have a beer in your hand. 

Winning & losing 

Remember, to win the game be the first to drink from the King after all of the pawns have been removed. 

You lose if you are caught without a beer, an empty beer can, or step on the lava. Have no fear though! You can get back into the game by polishing off one beer and standing where the other players put you.

Have fun, good luck, and prepare yourself for the worst hangover of your life. Don’t forget to play responsibly!