If we're judging a sitcom on its first episode, then Fox's New Girl has a lot of promise.
New Girl stars Zooey Deschanel as Jess, a dorky, adorable (Fox is using the term - adorkable - to describe her), optimistic woman in her late 20s who recently discovered that her boyfriend cheated on her. As a result of the breakup, she charms her way in with three guys, all with distinct personalities.
There's Nick (Jake Johnson), who works as a bartender and can't get over his ex-girlfriend, Schmidt (Max Greenfield), a wannabe ladies man/social climber and Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.)*, who loves sports but can't talk to women. Jess also gets help from her savvy, beautiful model friend Cece (Hannah Simone).
*It should be noted that Wayans Jr. couldn't stay on with this show because his ABC single-cam sitcom Happy Endings got picked up for a second season. The third male roommate got re-casted as Winston (Lemorne Morris), who will play a role that's similar to Wayans Jr.'s Coach. This review is based on the Pilot only so there's a chance that the substitution could change things.
The cast melds together perfectly as the first episode develops. At first, the guys are put off by Jess' awkward, depressed behavior. She spends her days watching Dirty Dancing and breaks out into song at every chance possible.
Jess is supposed to go on a date with one of Schmidt's social climber, arrogant friends. However, the guy ditches her at the last minute because she was too aggressive, sending out 7 texts before the date even began. Even though they weren't too into her as a friend at the beginning, her new roommates not only save Jess from the embarrassment of getting stood up at a restaurant but while there they break out into song together. It's a nice little moment for sure.
New Girl is definitely unpolished. The co-stars need to be developed better than they were in the pilot. This is especially true of the guys, who barely possess any traits beyond the realm of predictable one dimensional machismo. It's hard to see how they will fit with Jess (and vice versa) over a long haul.
However, with Deschanel as the lead, there's a lot of room for potential. Combined with showrunner Liz Meriwether's (No Strings Attached) specialized writing, this sitcom is definitely the role the wide-eyed, 31-year old actress was born to play. You could almost call it The Zooey Deschanel Show.
A show with a strong, established lead has a huge leg up on other first-year shows, such as CBS' 2 Broke Girls or NBC's Whitney. If Meriwether can build strong relationships with each of the leads, thus rounding out their characters, this show is destined to be a hit.