Friday, February 28, 2014

Is the New Girl not so new?


Years ago, sixty-three to be exact, Lucy from I Love Lucy came on the television and showed viewers’ a different glimpse of what a women can be portrayed as in society. Lucille Ball, the actress who played Lucy, was a hilarious, pretty naive woman who kept you laughing throughout each episode. Back in the day, this show was the most watched show in the United States from four out of six seasons.
I Love Lucy was a show about an ambitious woman searching for stardom while being married to the up-and-coming singer and bandleader, Ricardo. Ricardo was famous for being in a band and had an amazing voice. You could say that opposites attract for the saying of Lucy and Ricardo’s marriage. He was more level headed and went by the rules while Lucy was always getting into trouble and trying to find her way into the spotlight in Ricardo’s shows. Lucy was temped by becoming famous and appearing on Ricardo’s shows by doing some silly skit with her best friend Ethel. Throughout the seasons, Lucy was trying to become a performer while stealing the laugher from the audience. She was almost like the woman next door and people either loved her or hated her for that. The audience also enjoyed how Lucy was able to be herself and not pretend to be the typical housewife that you see on other sitcoms. Lucy had her own personality, and that’s what people liked about her.
In today’s society, we are used to seeing very pretty, skinny, sexual women who are portrayed as being popular and used to the limelife. Especially in today’s television realm we are seeing more and more reality television shows that have women illustrated as being catty, mouthy, and usually mean. Many of these females are the stars of the show and either have little or no attribution to feel like they’re superior or better than men. It’s refreshing to watch the New Girl and realize the main character, Jess, is someone who is beautiful, humorous, comfortable in her own skin, not afraid of show emotion, and confidence. Jess is not really the “new girl” but a person who is confident in herself without trying to be someone she isn’t. Jess reminds me of the iconic actress Lucy, from I Love Lucy.
            This clip from I Love Lucy is when she and her best friend Ethel are trying to get a job in a Chocolate factory. This is showing just how funny these two women are by acting like themselves and not really caring what others think. Lucy and Ethel played such important roles in the 1950’s that women all over felt it’s okay to be funny and laugh at yourself sometimes.
            Now, flash forward to the New Girl, which first started airing in 2011. The main character in this show is Jess Day who is played by Zooey Deschanel. It’s almost funny when watching the New Girl and not think of Lucy. When I was little I always adored the show I Love Lucy for its ability to make people laugh. Despite being a female, Lucy comes off as a person who isn’t afraid to make people laugh and have a good time while doing it. Same goes with Jess Day, who is played by Zooey Deschanel on the hit show called the New Girl. This show is outwardly hilarious and is about Jess and her three roommates that she finds on Craigslist. Jess was recently broken up with by her ex-boyfriend and needed a new place to live. She found these three guys who needed a fourth roommate so she jumped the gun. Jess is a fun-loving woman who isn’t shy around guys or thinks she needs to act a certain way to be liked by them. On the show she acts as “one of the guys” and never feels the need to act overly girly or grab their attention. I couldn’t pick just one clip to show how funny the New Girl is, but I thought it was good to see the trailer so you could get a glimpse of how funny the actual characters all are, too. The here’s a clip of the trailer:
             The representations that are reinforced both in I Love Lucy and the New Girl play a significant importance on women in television. It’s refreshing seeing women who are not afraid to be funny or care what people will say about them. Many women are seen as not having much confidence or always looking towards males to be more dominant. Lucy and Jess remind me of how strong-independent women are important for the younger audience to see and understand that there’s nothing wrong with acting that way. I think it’s incredible how many popular television shows have characters that young women look up to. Like, the Jersey Shore. Why would anyone want to look up to a person on this show who is known to be binge-drinking, smoking, acting rowdy, and having a potty mouth? Our generation has been targeted for seeing crappy reality television and it’s great that there are shows out there that still stand for being funny and doing it in a polished way.
             In an article by Amanda Hess, In defense of Zooey Deschanel: The girly girl everyone loves to hate is a feminist, she says “But today, I come to you as a convert to the cult of Zooey Deschanel. I used to think that I couldn’t stand to watch Deschanel’s infantilized archetype traipse through another quirky romantic scenario. As it turns out, I just hadn’t yet seen enough of her.” Everyone loves to hate the ones who are great. Rhymes, doesn’t it? But it’s so true. Even in high school you always hated the most popular, pretty, athletic girl, but did they ever do anything to you? Nope. We hate them because we love them. Zooey is an extremely hilarious and out-there female and that is just her personally on the New Girl. You can’t hate her just because she’s that good.
            Many of the same critics went after Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy. There are many feminists critics out there that like to articulate and go in-depth of the way Lucy was played in the 1950’s hit show. In the blog I found by Christine Gharibian, she says, “The classic 1950’s sitcom I Love Lucy exemplifies theories of feminism, most dominantly of which are from the feminist theorist Simone de Beauvior who examines how women’s identities and roles in society are created not autonomously, but through their male counterpart.” I feel that this is why it’s so hard to make an exact comparison from the show I Love Lucy to the New Girl but in actuality, compare the two lead actresses of each show. Lucy was a dominant woman in her time and the same goes with Zooey. Both women are there to encourage others to set outside of your comfort box and be the person you want to be. If we didn’t have these powerful women to look up to we would be focusing our attention on reality television and other representations that are unclear or give negative impact to the younger female audience.

Works Cited


  1. I could not pinpoint your thesis, but I believe the argument you were making is that Jess's character stands out from the norm, and is overall a positive role model for women. Although I agree, I feel that her character is almost too extreme of a case to relate to. The amount of confidence she has to be herself in every situation is sometimes unrealistic, and ultimately the effect might be that of fantasy shows- an escape. When I watch New Girl it is mindless watching to escape reality. Although I truly look up to Jess's character, I feel that I can escape to it as a fantasy more than aspire to follow in her footsteps. If other viewers watch New Girl and see Jess how I do, they may not be achieving the same results from her character that your article hopes for.

  2. Great comparison - however I too was unsure what the entire point of your essay was as well. Jess Day is definitely someone outside the norm of reality TV, however she isn't necessarily a new archetype for comedy/dramedy shows. For instance, what about Rachel Berry or Marley Rose from Glee? Both of their characters embody 'cutesy,' yet head-strong, comfortable in their own skin lead female characters who don't ever waver in their beliefs. Though they are opposites to the 'mean girls' you mentioned, they still have their own legion of haters who hate them simply because they are talented.
    Overall a great idea to write about, I just wished I had more comparison between Jess and Lucy, and textual analysis to bolster your argument.

  3. This was a great comparison. I'm always interested at how people see New Girl as this revolutionary show about an awkward yet lovable leading lady. So many shows have had the same concept as this one, but for some reason (maybe the hipster glasses) Jess is often viewed as the first of her kind. That being said, I'm not quite sure what the argument was regarding hating her because she is talented, because I'm not sure that's what critics are critiquing her for.


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