I think New Girl’s second season might have been the funniest sitcom season I’ve seen since How I Met Your Mother’s heyday. It bumped New Girl onto this list.
New Girl has been heavily marketed throughout its life, so you probably know that it was originally a Zooey Deschanel vehicle, showcasing her distinct brand of “adorkable” that has made her a popular comedic actress.
Since then, the show has expanded into a true ensemble comedy. Schmidt is a lovable douche bag, Cece is the straight woman who occasionally steals a scene, (recently added) Coach is super intense and masculine — and every one of them feels essential.
There’s one other character. Just as most great comedies have a character they absolutely nail — e.g. Ron Swanson, Barney Stinson — New Girl has Nick Miller.
Nick, played by Jake Johnson, is hilarious. He started as a sort of plain straight man, but evolved into a really distinct character: crotchety, lazy, and easily flustered. But, in spite of those, he ends up relatable and lovable.
So many of my favorite plots from the show have revolved around Nick — Nick having a “conversation” with a silent old guy, Nick writing a zombie novel, Nick trying to grow tomatoes.
Even moreso, it’s the individual moments and lines that Nick knocks out of the park (see the video at the top of the post). Whenever Nick loses his shit, it’s the funniest thing in the world. His “I am the decider!” and “Gave me cookie, got you cookie” rants are some of my most rewound TV moments of the past few years.
Most impressively of all, the show managed to turn Nick and Jess into an enjoyable TV couple, largely by making their relationship a complete, hysterical disaster. It’s always refreshing to see sitcoms nailing their stories.
The third season has had a rocky start so far. The plotting has been frustrating (Schmidt’s woman-juggling) and the jokes have slowed to a trickle. In two years’ time, if the show never reverts to second season-form, I may regret ever giving a spot to Fox’s show on my list of 100. But for now, the big laughs outweigh the misfires. And, to paraphrase Casablanca, we’ll always have cookie.