The Not-So ‘New Girl’ Shows Staying Power
The Zooey Deschanel-starring sitcom New Girl has just been picked up for a fifth season by Fox, meaning the show will reach its milestone 100th episode next year. While the series has never been a ratings juggernaut, it has been moderately popular for its entire run and is set to go into syndication on both TBS and MTV.
The show has managed to balance being a hangout sitcom and a romantic comedy throughout its run, weathering ups and downs in ratings and reviews while cultivating one of the best ensemble casts on television.
New Girl is the only comedy aside from Brooklyn Nine-nine that Fox has picked back up for the 2015-2016 season thus far. “Four seasons in, New Girl continues to be one of the smartest and most relatable comedies on television,” said Fox Broadcasting Company Entertainment President David Madden in a statement seen by The Hollywood Reporter. “The writing is razor-sharp, the ensemble is consistently hilarious, and we couldn’t be more proud of Liz Meriwether, Brett Baer, Dave Finkel and the entire New Girl team.”
There have been plenty of puns abounding about how New Girl really isn’t new anymore now that it’s heading into its fifth year. The show was developed to give indie actress Zooey Deschanel, who was mostly known for her quirky supporting roles on film, a way to show that she is capable of carrying a project in the starring role. The show’s creator, Liz Meriwether, ended up cultivating one of the funniest ensembles on television and made new stars out of Jake Johnson and Max Greenfield.
After a third season that received lukewarm reviews for its handling of the long-predicted romantic pairing between the main characters Jess and Nick, played by Deschanel and Johnson, respectively, the show swung back into stride in the fourth season. “[S]eason four (to date) has been New Girl’s new standard for funny,” said The AV Club.
Part of the show’s staying power can certainly be attributed to the fact that there aren’t many other friendship-based romantic comedy sitcoms on TV right now. How I Met Your Mother disappointingly ended after its ninth season a year ago. Parks and Recreation, though it had more friendship and less romance, just wrapped up.
With New Girl, Fox has an established sitcom that people return to for comfort and laughs and the warm, fuzzy feelings of watching friendship. The series has shown that it can handle making its main characters get together and breakup repeatedly while remaining friends and engaging in new relationships and sharing a Los Angeles loft, which is key to maintaining this type of sitcom (OK, except the loft bit). There need to be romantic story lines without losing any of the characters viewers care about nor the dynamic of the group as a whole.
New Girl will have plenty of stuff going on to keep it fresh in Season 5. While it seems like Damon Wayans Jr. only just came back to reprise the character of Coach, the actor announced this season that he would be leaving the show at the end of Season 4. TVLine recently reported that Saturday Night Live actor Taran Killam will guest star on the upcoming season as one of Jess’s new boyfriends, with Henry Winkler and Julie Haggerty playing his parents that turn out to be cooler than him. With Nasim Pedrad developing her own show for Fox, her recurring character likely isn’t long for the show’s world.
New Girl has proven its longevity in the cutthroat landscape of network TV. As the show approaches its centennial episode, it will be interesting to see how it develops to fill the void left by other recently gone established sitcoms.
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