It might seem a big call, but I think it might be true: most weeks, you can sit down for an episode of New Girl and laugh for the entire half hour (well, 25-ish minutes, if you're fast-forwarding the adverts on MySky). It's easily better than any of the comedy offerings on the other channels, and much funnier than anything else on Four.*
And yes, I know that I often claim that Parks & Recreation is the best comedy on television. I really do think that it is a better show overall, with more range in terms of swinging between the comedic and dramatic (dramatic for a comedy show anyway). But for all-out hilarity, I don't think you can go past Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield and the rest.
In fact, here are five moments from last night's New Girl that prove my point.
Nick: "Just update your resume, ya ninny."
Jess: "Did you just call me a ninny?"
Nick: "Yeah, I called ya a ninny, because you're acting like a ninny, ya ninny."
Somehow, New Girl has avoided one of the most common pitfalls for shows with a male-female lead duo: turning them into a hot mess of sexual tension and annoying will-they-won't-they scenes. Not only have Nick (Jake Johnson) and Jess avoided turning into an annoying pseudo-couple, but the scenes between them - like the back and forth quoted above, and a later scene in the episode where Nick tries to give Jess a water massage - are often the highlights of the episode.**
Schmidt: "There's a fine line between sexual harassment and something awesome."
Okay, this exact line isn't an example of the brilliance that is Schmidt, but Greenfield does a fantastic job with the role. The way he delivers his lines, turning even the douchiest one-liners into charming wordplay, is a work of near-genius - and frankly, I think Greenfield was robbed of the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series at the Emmy Awards. Schmidt is one of the best characters on television right now.
Winston: "I think I'm getting my period. Somehow I got on that woman's cycle of menstruation ... and I got that menstruation inside of me."
Winston often has very little to do in an episode, usually tagging along behind the rest of the gang or taking part in one of their story lines. But actor Lamorne Morris does a great job in the role, especially when he gets something fun to do like in last night's episode (well, until that sad tag scene where he admitted he didn't have a period and was just sad about breaking up Shelby in the previous episode, poor guy).
Schmidt: "Ladies and gentlemen, drum roll please."
Nick: "Bah-bah-bah-bah-bah-bah ..."
Jess: "Tsss-ts-ts-tsss ..."
Schmidt: "Cut! Cut! Nick, snare drum! I shouldn't have to specify! Jess, that was a cymbal."
Jess: "Cymbals are part of the drumkit!"
If nothing else, the writers on New Girl have turned scripting an argument into an art form - but they just seem so ludicrous, yet so natural, that I wonder how much is improvised by the cast. While I haven't read anything to that effect in regard to New Girl, I've read that the cast on Parks & Recreation do the scene as scripted then do several takes of improvisation, and sometimes those takes are what end up in the episode. I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case here, too.
Emma: "After we do what we do, you're gonna wanna talk. I can't allow that. The less risk I incur, the more I can focus on creating a viable sexual experience for both of us."
Schmidt: "[reading] Party A absolves Party B of any psychological trauma whether temporary, permanent, future or imagined ... possible exposure to lead paint ... do I have a latex allergy? ... guaranteed exposure to mercury poisoning? Is this real?"
Let me say this: Season 2 is a major improvement on Season 1 - it's funnier, the cast have settled into their roles, and it's a vastly more entertaining show. A lot of the credit for that goes to the twisted, and often surprising, sense of humour the show has, like in this scene between Schmidt and the North American vice-president of the company he works for, Emma (played wonderfully by Carla Gugino). Emma also delivered another brilliant line earlier in the episode:
Schmidt: "Emma Sharpe. Divisional VP of all North America. What are you doing in the break room?"
Emma: "This break room is in North America, isn't it? That means I'm the vice-president of it."
An obvious joke, sure. But in the context of the scene, it was perfectly scripted, perfectly delivered - and a perfect example of the brilliance that is New Girl's second season.
Are you enjoying the new season of New Girl as much as me? If not, what do you think is the funniest show on television (right now)?
(**) I agree with Nick about doors, though - especially doors that have a "pull" sign, even though they can swing both ways. Why are you forcing me to operate the door in a particular way? Let me make my own decisions, door!
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