English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: New Girl Page 1 of 3

Who/What is normal?

For the fifth and the last Blog Entry, I am focusing on the writing of the “Normal”, the twentieth episode of season 1 of New Girl. It was written by Luvh Rakhe. He also wrote It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005) and A.P Bio (2018).

In this episode Jess brings her boyfriend Russell to the loft to meet her roommates. Her roommates and her boyfriend were awkward at first but then after talking for a while, they started bonding while playing True American, a drinking game. The next morning, Nick accidentally hurts Russell with the prototype of his idea for real apps. Russell leaves the house and Jess becomes disappointed.

The dialogue here is mainly the conversations between the characters. There is not much of a self-talk. This is important because it allows the viewers to make interpretation on the feelings of each characters and analyze it by themselves.

There were external references when Jess says act cool to her roommates. They think of what cool means to each of them and what they would do when Russell is in their house. After a couple of minutes, Jess says to them to act normal. The silences in this episode is to move from one scene to another. It is also used right before they started True American. This increased the tension of the game.

Jess, her roommates, and Russell playing True American.

I believe this episode stands out because it has a good sequence of introduction, development, turn and conclusion. At first there is a new person introduced in the relationship between Jess and her roommates. And then they get to know each other by playing True American. There is a turn when Nick accidentally hurts Russell, leading to Jess and Russell fighting and lastly, the conclusion where Jess and Russell make up. I think it is an intriguing way to engage the viewers by increasing the tension between the characters.

New Girl, Old Family Ties

The episode “San Diego” in New Girl’s sixth season deals with a lot of family relations and how they shape character.

Image result for schmidt saying his name new girl

Schmidt telling Winston about his first name

The episode begins with Schmidt upset because he can not name his charity after his nickname, “Schmidt,” which also happens to be his last name. He must start using the first name that his parents gave him, “Winston”. This is an relevant dilemma because it represents him leaving his family ties and naming something after himself. It is a transition into him becoming an individual- he reveals his true identity at the same time he creates something for himself. However, it creates a conflict because his best friend’s name is also Winston. At the end, friendship and normalcy prevails, and Schmidt goes back to being called “Schmidt”. However, the main deciding factor is that his wife, Cece, feels weird calling him “Winston,” and that is what is most important to him- the new family he will create with her.

Image result for schmidt and cece new girl

Schmidt realizes what matters most

Jess has also entered an interesting family situation when she moves back in with her father for a few days to avoid seeing Nick. She somewhat sinks back into to her childhood role- she is bickering with her father, not listening, and saying she doesn’t want ice cream. However, by the end of the episode, Jess and her father stop bickering because they form a new mature adult family relationship. Jess helps her father get out of his lonely single life by getting him a date, and he does the same for her. He still fills his father role, though, by asking Nick a question to test his character before he gives his approval.

Image result for jess dad new girl

Jess’ dad- full of good advice

Winston is also facing a new family dilemma. Ally has found his father, who isn’t in his life. She has his phone number and encourages Winston to call him. Initially, he does not, but with time and bravery, he finds the courage to call his father in attempt to form a new family relationship. He tells his father about his upcoming marriage, so Winston is, in fact, getting two new family members.

 

Friends: To Change Them or not to Change Them?

     Over all of my past blog posts, I’ve mentioned the way in which a given element of New Girl, whether it be cinematography, writing, or thematic explorations, change the way in which the main characters of the show are developed. For this last post, I’d like to dive deeper into how Jess, the focus of the show, is portrayed and how her relationship with the other characters is vital in bridging the gap between the absurd hi-jinks in which they find themselves and the grounded, relatable reality of their friendships.

     In the episode “Control” (S1E16), Jess compromises the very structure of the friends’ dynamics when she attempts to, and successfully convinces, Schmidt to stop his borderline germaphobe habits just so he stops nagging her over the cleanliness of the loft. However, by bringing Schmidt’s personality into question, Jess throw both the apartment itself and her friend group into disarray, and she has to spend the rest of the episode undoing her mistake.

 

Schmidt trades in his business casuals for a drug rug. What has Jess done…

 

     Beyond just creating an entertaining plot, this episode demonstrates the significance each characters’ personality has on the functionality of the show. By directly questioning a core trait of Schmidt’s personality, “Control” acts as a nod to the way in which writers craft a character to fill a particular niche in the show: though pretentious and arrogant, Schmidt’s cleanliness and housekeeping rules balance out the much looser habits and general dispositions of Winston and Nick while also grounding the optimism and spontaneity of Jess. The show works because each character fills a particular archetype, and the interaction between these archetypes contributes to the appeal of the show. Thus, when Jess tries to change the personality of her friend, she is also affecting the very fabric of her friend group and the fundamental appeal each character has to the show’s viewers.

     While there are many facets to New Girl that can be analyzed to explain how the show functions, it is ultimately the relationships between the unique and carefully planned characters which lends a special charm to the series.

 

Netflix. “New Girl S1:E16 ‘Control’.” Online Video Clip. Netflix. Netflix, 2018. Web.                

13 Nov. 2018.

Talk the talk

Let me start by saying I can’t believe this is my last blog post.  This semester has flown by quicker than I could have ever imagined.

In today’s blog I’m going to discuss something that always interests me in television (and all types of writing): the manipulation of dialogue/dialect.  I’m going to look at the different ways the characters on the show talk and how that impacts what the writers are trying to say about each character.  Let’s start with Schmidt.

One thing I have noticed about Schmidt’s dialogue is that when he talks to talks continuously.  In the most recent episode, when he is running from the shower to his room he stammers “Nobody look.  Nobody look, yo.  Nobody look.  Seriously, no body is looking?”  This line makes it very obvious that Schmidt is super needy and always looking for attention.  I believe that’s why the authors always have him talking and yelling, ALOT, they’re making his (attention hungry) personality evident.

Nick is actually very different from Schmidt in this regard.  When Nick talks he somewhat rambles and trails off in his sentences.  What he says is usually pretty witty but it happens just fast enough for the audience to recognize it as funny but not long enough to gain attention.  For example, when Julia wants to go to his room he quickly says “Julia is about to be very disappointed.”  This line is witty and funny but the other characters brush it off and so does the audience.  I think this is done by the authors to shape Nick’s persona, funny but unnoticed.

Finally, let’s talk about Jess.  Anyone who has watched the show for more than 5 minutes will know that Jess speaks in a very high pitched voice and often does her own weird sing songy voices.  For example, when sitting in court Jess starts saying random lawyer jargon in her sophisticated voice.  I think the reason the author sets Jess up with this high pitched soft voice is because Jess really is a nice person but also because her voice can sound child like and a lot of the time in the show she comes across and innocent and naive, like a child.  The reason she uses so many impersonations is because most of the time she has a hard time expressing her emotions, like the awkward courtroom scene, so she resorts to her own humor.

I love how these different dialogues all fit together so seamlessly to create a well flowing show but they also have specific purposes to guide the audience to a specific idea.

Clever writing and great characters, ingredients for an amazing show.

 

 

Quick, Quirky, Quintessential New Girl

In season 6 episodes 12 and 13, New Girl cinematography and direction is fast paced and filled with humor. While New Girl is a relatively short show, lasting about 20 minutes per episode, the jokes are plentiful, and the shots reflect this. The shortness of the show and its humorous nature means that quick cuts are most popular. While petty banter among the gang consists of many quick shots, the show does have its longer shots. In more serious scenes, there are more long takes, letting the viewer take in the character’s facial features and responses. For example, when Nick’s girlfriend admits to him that she is excited to read his book but worried that she’ll fall asleep, the camera zoned in on her face, letting the viewer see how genuine she is being.

Nick and Reagan share a heart to heart in a long take on the show

Long takes are not confined to serious moments, however. New Girl has a plethora of awkward moments, mostly but not always made possible by the star of the show Jessica Day. In episode 12, The Cubical, Winston got a long shot after he made a bad joke at the dinner table, pausing just long enough to let the awkward set in for the viewer and the other characters.

The show’s color scheme is quite colorful. Jess usually wears a colorful wardrobe consisting of bright reds, yellows and greens. The show’s bright and chipper color scheme is reflective of the show as a whole. New Girl is a comedic sit com. It’s not a drama. It’s not meant to be heavy, and the color scheme reflects that.

So much brightness. So much color. 

The Cubical and Cece’s Boys do not appear to stand out visually in some way from other episodes. The quickness of pace, bright colors, and quirky characters are plentiful. If anything, I would say that there are more longer, serious takes in these two episodes. Nearing the end of the season, the drama is amping up. Nick’s concerns with his girlfriend Reagan are apparent and reflected in close up, longer takes. The same can be said for Jess’s relationship with her boyfriend; though, their relationship is a little more lighthearted.

What’s That I Spy? Character Growth

In this final blog post, I’d like to cover how New Girl flips the script on tropes regarding masculinity and femininity.  While Jess at first appears to be the epitome of the manic pixie dream girl trope, she is much more than a tool to get broody males to have more fun in their lives.  While the guys seem macho and aggressive at the beginning of the season, they have their own fears and insecurities that are not often portrayed on television.  Schmidt’s characterization in particular undergoes changes as viewers learn more about him and his flaws, from his douchebag jar to his body image issues.

Jess at her core: prepared to help

Admittedly Jess is quirky and childish, which somewhat fulfills the manic pixie dream girl trope, yet she is much more than that as a main character.  She is often the cause for more excitement and drama in the shared apartment, but she doesn’t solely exist for that purpose.  Jess has her own professional hopes and dreams as a schoolteacher and romantic goals in her search for a stable relationship so that her life doesn’t only revolve around her roommates.  In addition, Jess has her flaws with her eagerness to be helpful and is often seen as a pushover but grows as a person through becoming more tactful and willing to stand up for herself as the season goes on.  She goes from reluctant to confront Spencer, her ex-boyfriend, to standing up to Julia, Nick’s girlfriend, who puts Jess down for her bubbly demeanor and bright outfits.

When we first met Schmidt, he was arrogant and aggressively flirty to the point where he had his own douchebag jar for his inappropriate comments.  However, he soon reveals a softer side when he gives up his costume party to help a stood-up Jess.  Schmidt also ends up being the one who cooks and cleans, as revealed in episode 16, which are traditionally feminine roles that contradict his façade of traditional masculinity.  While Schmidt is often seen pursuing women, his actual relationships consists of him being in a more submissive role, as seen with his turbulent relationship with Gretchen and his later relationship with Cece.  In his relationship with Cece, Cece is the one with control, especially over the secrecy of their relationship.  While Schmidt acts affronted for having to be available whenever Cece calls, he bends to her demands and continues to stay in the relationship.  Their relationship dynamic differs from those often portrayed on television that have a power imbalance in which the woman lacks or has less control and influence in the relationship because of a difference in status or role.

Watching New Girl has been a highlight in my week with Jess’s quirks and the shenanigans that the characters get up to.  The show really succeeded in having characters that are genuine and unique in their relationships and flaws while inverting common tropes related to gender representation.

New Girl: Seriously Awkward Silence

New Girl is a show that thrives on awkwardness (as anyone who has read my previous posts knows I love). The show will often build up to dramatic moments of silence where the air becomes stiff and viewers are left thinking how they would respond in such a situation. The genius of New Girl is how this awkward silence is broken by the ridiculousness of the characters’ actions. This is used perfectly in the finale of New Girl, Elaine’s Big Day, during [Spoiler] Cece’s failed marriage, while Jess and Nick’s dysfunctional relationship is falling apart.

Silence can be used in a comedy as a way of changing the mood of the scene to be serious and awkward. This focuses the audience on the careful words or actions of the characters, allowing for the crafting of serious moments in an otherwise light-hearted show. In Se2Ep25, Jess and Nick are in conflict due to their relationship. In a mere 20 minutes, the two begin by having an adorable relationship, which quickly falls right apart and is built immediately back up in 5 minutes without any unbelievable leaps of logic: all thanks to the writer’s use of silence in a particular scene.

Specifically, Jess and Nick are discussing how their relationship is clearly not functioning, and Nick decides to break it off, informing Jess that it was never going to be anything serious anyway and that they should just end it. This strong emotional shock to an otherwise fun show is left in several seconds of silence, where the audience is recoiling from the shock that Jess must be going through. The silence is used to display the thoughts going through Jess’ head as she is being broken up with, being told that her relationship was never meant to be serious in the first place.

Se2Ep25 Some awkward silence

This episode uses silence perfectly at this moment to display a serious moment, where Jess’ emotional struggles are in plain view as there is no comedy to cover it. It then does nothing to break the tension of this silence. Rather than saying something, Jess just awkwardly nods and walks away, leaving Nick in silence as he and the audience must think about the consequences of the episode.

New Girl usually uses silence to indicate a more serious moment, but ultimately breaks it with some awkward comedic moment, such as later in the episode when Schmidt is presented with two girls who love him and ask him to choose, he just stands in silence and after a moment starts running off, breaking silence with comedy. However, in the case of Jess and Nick, the silence is never broken. It is left perpetually as Jess just walks away from Nick. In a comedic show, the silence was written in to create a serious moment that leaves the audience in a real feeling of tension and regret for Nick.

Plot Twists and New Cousins: Between the Lines of New Girl

Sarah Tapscott is credited with writing the episode “The Hike” in season 6 of New Girl. She has written 41 episodes of New Girl, including the entire 6th season.

The show begins with Jess and Robby being very cute and couple-y and doing things such as saying the same words at the same time, telling inside jokes, and finishing each other’s sentences while getting ready for their hike. Because they are so similar, it sets a very suspicious mood and foreshadows their discovery at the end of the hike. The dialogue was planned this way to show how close and similar they are.

Schmidt and Cece are planning a house party, and they are quite stressed about it. Schmidt makes external references to Groudhog day, calling himself Andie MacDowell because he feels like he has been through this before. They then have flashbacks and begin reflecting on what the “cool” parties were like when they were a kid. These memories were a great use of writing to further characterize Schmidt and Cece and how they handle problems.

When the party begins, dialogue is very important to Winston. Each word he says and story he tells is pretty strange, and this dialogue was chosen to show his nervousness for meeting Ally’s parents. When Ally arrives, there is a large silence that builds apprehension for the surprise. However, there is situational irony because Ally is actually not excited to see her family at all. Ally gets into a fight with her sister because she tells Ally that Winston is “good for her,” which is offensive because it makes it seem as though she needs a man.

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A fun cousin hike

Now back to Jess and Robby. They are hiking and realizing just how similar they are. Then, they come to the conclusion that they are actually 3rd cousins. This is a huge plot twist and dramatic turn, as they are dating. I believe it was the writer’s way of breaking them up so that Jess and Nick can be together. Shortly after in the episode Jess comes to the party with a bag of raisins because she doesn’t like them in the Trail Mix. And it just so happens that Nick loves raisins and wants to eat them. This clever writing trick of bringing them together shows that sometimes opposites attract and foreshadows their future.

Gender Representation in New Girl

For the fourth Blog Entry, I am focusing on the gender representation within the show. In New Girl, there is a balanced gender spread. Even though there are slightly more male characters than the female characters, the main character is Jess and the show plot is always related to her. Therefore, it balances out the gender representation. However, only two genders, male and female, are represented in this show whereas there are many other genders that could have been represented.

In this show, the two main couples are Jess and Nick, and Cece and Schmidt. In the relationship between Jess and Nick, Jess is dramatic, and Nick hides his feelings. However, this was contrasted in one episode where Nick accidentally says he loves Jess and Jess goes away after giving an awkward reaction. In the relationship with Cece and Schmidt, Cece makes the logical decision and Schmidt follows her decision or runs away from his responsibility. In conclusion, I believe the agency is equally assigned because the characters that makes significant decisions are both males and females.

Jess and Nick

Cece and Schmidt

There are not much of class, disability, and mental illness issues discussed in this show. Since the genre of New Girl is sitcom (situation comedy), the show is mostly in the light mood. Due to this fact, the serious issues in the society are not usually addressed. As I mentioned preciously, there are only two genders represented throughout the show. There is no diversity in sexual orientation. There are only heterosexuals. Lastly, there are characters with different races. However, the race is not really associated with gender in this show, which means that there is no noticeable correlation between gender and race.

In conclusion, although it lacks many different genders, the males and females are balanced in the show New Girl. There are characters which are gender stereotypes but there are also characters which are far opposite of these stereotypes.

One-Night Stands and Messed-Up Plans

Even before watching episode thirteen of New Girl, I had planned to write a blog post about this episode because I was expecting changes in color schemes to match Valentine’s Day as described in the title of the episode.  While I was disappointed by the lack of festivity, there is still plenty to talk about regarding the visual design of the episode and the show as a whole.

When your night isn’t going as planned

New Girl continues to stay upbeat while keeping viewers up-to-date with the daily lives of the main characters.  The color scheme of the show generally matches the tone with warm hues that are comfortable and cheery and is usually shot with quick cuts, often shifting camera angles in line with changes in speakers.  For instance, there’s soft lighting and brown tones in the furniture and decorations when the camera is focused on Nick and his girlfriend Julia.  During Schmidt’s and Jess’s conversation about their Valentine’s Day plans, the camera angle switches to focus on who is talking in the conversation.  After the initial warm, earthy tones set in the shared apartment, the color scheme of the episode takes a darker turn to match the time of day and later, Schmidt’s dark mood at being forced to be the third wheel and driver for Jess’s one-night stand.

The darkness makes the abrupt transition to bright office lighting even more jarring as the episode transitions to focus on Nick and intern Cliff (and Julia, in between her phone calls with Ming).  While the surroundings are now better lit, the mood doesn’t change much as the lighting lacks warmth and hominess.  The only person somewhat enjoying Valentine’s Day in the group of four is Winston who has unwittingly joined Shelby and her girlfriends for a relaxing night in.  While Winston is initially disgruntled, he fits in seamlessly with the girls, which the visual design of the episode demonstrates through cheerful, festive lighting and colorful reds.  Before the cut to Oliver and Jess, the camera zooms in on Shelby’s face to show how impressed and touched she is with how well Winston has integrated with her girl group.

In this episode of New Girl, the color scheme and lighting match well with the plot of the show and the mood that the show is trying to convey.  The visual design provides hints for the audience regarding when things are going well or poorly for the main characters and various experiences with romantic relationships during the evening of a day focused on romance and love.  As almost always with New Girl, the episode ends optimistically, though with suspense, showing a scene of the morning after when Cece has hooked up with Schmidt while Jess had narrowly dodged that bullet (and awkwardness) the night before.  The audience is left wondering what will happen next as it appears to be the calm before the storm.

The Silence of the Friends

     In season 1 episode 15 of New Girl titled “Injured” written by Nick Adams, Berkeley Johnson, and Josh Malmuth, Jess’ friend Nick goes through a crisis of identity when he finds a possible cancerous lump on his neck. While the lump is ultimately harmless at the very end of the episode, the framing of this particularly thematically heavy episode exemplifies the way in which the writing and dialogue of the show as a whole drives both the development of the small circle of friends as well as the juxtaposition of real-world problems with the series’ distinct brand of humor.

The gang shares a tender moment with Nick

     The general delivery of jokes and one-liners remains consistent with other episodes, where a character starts a seemingly ordinary thought and concludes their sentence with the punchline. However, it is oddly the few-second pauses in the characters’ speech that act as the most poignant moments out of the 20-minute episode. As the plot and humor are dialogue-driven, these pauses allow the audience to shift their attention away from the progression of events to the details of the characters’ behavior, thus providing an insight into how these friends deal with such a high stress situation: the respites from the friendly teasing and jokes quickly reveals the underlying sadness, worry, and anxiety all 5 of them have for the well-being of Nick. Even after the lump is proven to be benign, the episode continues with intermittent pauses in the dialogue, thus further solidifying how the gang is still in the process of internalizing Nick’s near-death experience.

     While the writing, pacing, and humor of “Injured” are all the trademark quality of the rest of the show, the moments of silence in this episode provide the central moments from which the characters are able to develop. When it comes to the writing and dialogue, Adams, Johnson, and Malmuth ultimately demonstrate the potency of writing nothing at all.

Netflix. “New Girl S1:E15 ‘Injured’.” Online Video Clip. Netflix. Netflix, 2018. Web.                6 Nov. 2018.

New Girl: Ruining Relationships

New Girl is a show that revolves around the concept of one woman living with 3 men without anything sexual between them, creating an awkward (but hilarious) relationship in which quirks of each sex gets compared mockingly to the other. There was a healthy dynamic between the characters that worked.  However, the writers of New Girl had Jess and Nick kiss in Season 2 Episode 15, Cooler. This may seem romantic, and in the short-term, it adds to the awkward dynamic of New Girl as Nick and Jess try to hide it and move on. Unfortunately, longer-term messes with the dynamic of the characters.

The Kiss that ruined it all Se2Ep15

In a show, movie, cartoon… Whatever… adding a romantic interest between the emotional centre and the more unconventional and independent but favoured character is common. In a classic 5-man band seen in most modern media, this is especially common. Creating a passion between 2 characters that have a spark adds a narrative as their relationship is expanded and explored. However, this does not work as well in New Girl since the entirety of Season and most of Season 2 (yes, even after the kiss) is centred around the tribulations of the relationships of the loft-mates. This does not work as well if two of the loft mates are in a relationship with each other by the end of Season 2.

While I’m waiting for a gif to process, here’s an opinionated description of this plot development. There’s a plot issue. Jess originally joined the loft because she left her ex-boyfriend’s house when he cheated on her. While Jess and Nick as characters are describable as being rather irrational, there’s no logic in the two characters beginning a relationship when they already live together, as this should only lead to Jess having another break-up and having to find another place to live (poor… poor Cece).

Continuing the relationship conundrum: while I watched the show, my favourite part was guessing the characters’ next blunder in relationships. When it seemed that Winston had a stable relationship in season 2, it fell apart. I thought it was a good relationship arc that returned Winston to his original state of Single. Another example of a relationship that completes itself is Cece getting married to… Not Schmidt. The antics in Schmidt’s and Cece’s relationship drove an entire hilarious subplot for much of season 2, and watching Schmidt strive and fail to get Cece back later was hilarious. However, New Girl ended this when Cece was to get married, ending the entire, funny exchange.

Completing a relationship in a show can create an interesting new dynamic. In many cases, the show was teasing the relationship during most of its run, in which case the audience may be excited for the sudden appeasement of their shipping. But in a show like New Girl, which relies on the fact that the characters are individually facing problems that they need each other to solve, putting main characters like Jess and Nick together just bothers the dynamic.

The Holiday Season and Meaningless Girlfriends

Jess knows what’s up in terms of when it is appropriate to get in the holiday spirit. Correct answer: November 1st. In this week’s episode of New Girl, Jess plans a Secret Santa exchange for the gang. When does she start planning this exchange? Halloween night. Really the morning of November 1st, but you get the point.

Jess getting excited for the holidays

In this blog post, I thought I’d talk about the holiday season. The characters in New Girl made very adult decisions by not focusing solely on the materialistic aspect of Christmas. Even Schmidt who “does not believe in the good Lord” as Cece put it, decided to downplay the gift giving. I think this is a concept that should be more widely accepted. The holidays are more than about spending money! I believe that the months of November and December should be spent drinking hot cocoa and listening to Micael Buble by the fire. None of those things involve sprinting around a mall in a layer of sweat and stress.

Although Jess was a huge advocate for gift giving, the real gift she received was one that could not be wrapped. At the end of season 6 episode 10, Christmas Eve Eve, Jess is surprised by the gang by fake snow and a serenading gospel choir.

Surprised Jess! The gang unveils their gift

This episode exuded the holiday spirit, not in its focus on the Secret Santa exchange but in the friendship evident among Jess, Cece, Schmidt, Nick, and Winston. The characters were thinking of each other in the kindest of ways, thinking of inside jokes they could use to think of funny gifts that the other person would appreciate.

In episode 11, Raisin’s Back, this element of friendship is visible but in a less sappy, lovey, holiday spirit way (which is okay). In this episode, Nick’s girlfriend moves in. This causes a lot of drama because she immediately lies to Nick in that she has a secret apartment. Nick lies to her as well in a lesser but equally painful way. This shows the viewer what has been apparent since episode 1: Jess and Nick are meant to be together, anyone else is meaningless to the plot-line of the show. Nick’s girlfriend is not a kindred spirit. She does not fit in with the effortless yet impeccable friendship of the gang, and therefore, she will not last.

Megan Fox makes an appearance as Nick’s girlfriend.

Writes and Wrongs on New Girl

I’ve been looking forward to writing this one.  Today let’s discuss the writing style of New Girl following the 9th episode of season one: “The 23rd”.  Episode 9 having a plot line centered around Christmas proves to be the most emotionally provocative episode yet.  While at an office Christmas party, the gang finds themselves confronting their internal/external conflicts.  This results in an emotional rollercoaster that is powered by subtle but powerful dialogue which we will dive into now!  (Prepare for all the feels)

Throughout episode 9 there are 4 main struggles going on.

  1. Jess isn’t in love with Paul and he is (news that is revealed to Paul by a clumsy Nick)
  2. Schmidt is sick of being used around the office for his body
  3. Winston does not feel a sense of belonging in the world of conventional jobs
  4. Cece is dating a jerk

Each of these struggles are relatable but still difficult making them more impactful on the audience.  In order to capitalize on these pressing issues the writers of the show use certain tactics to amplify the emotional connection between audience and character.  For example, almost all dialogue in this show is shared in an intimate setting between two characters. (3 in the case of Jess, Paul, and Nick)

The writers leave lots of silences between dialogue to let the words resonate with the viewer.  There is also no narrator, which is expected with New Girl, but this leaves the watcher without a specific point from which to view these conflicts.  A lack of narrator decreases biased viewpoints on the issues and increases the reality of the situation.

The episode concludes with the gang coming together to make, a now single, Jess feel better.  They all run around a fancy street early in the morning yelling to get them to turn their Christmas lights on.  One by one the lights come on and Jess, along with the gang, are filled with joy.  A honestly heart warming scene that brought me pre holiday joy.

One of the writers of this episode, Nick Adams, is also the writer of “How to make friends with Black People” a book on bridging racial gaps in society.  Through this process I’m sure he wrote about many interpersonal connections and struggles, similar to the ones portrayed on this episode of New Girl.

In conclusion, the writers of New Girl, like their writing, are subtly good, aspects such as silence, lack of narrator and setting contribute to sympathy of the viewer, and I am now in the Christmas spirit!

Juxtaposition of an Awkward Position

I’m not sure how the rest of you feel, but when I think of cinematography I think of CGI explosions and huge blockbuster movies like Star Wars or The Avengers.

This means when looking at the cinematography of a show like New Girl my mindset required an adjustment.  But since then, I’ve realized the importance of direction in all forms of media, including television shows.  These shows are filled with purposeful decisions made by the director that alter the way in which the show is delivered.  And today I’m going to go more into depth on how these nuances guide the production of a New Girl episode!

The most recent episode of New Girl, Naked, was by far my favorite.  The concept of this episode is that Jess walks in on a singing and very naked Nick before a big date which results in him losing all self confidence.  At the same time Winston is having a hard time finding a job due to his love of basketball.  The clever aspects of direction I will focus on are the juxtaposition of setting and action, and the running of parallel story lines.

While watching this episode I had to pause it multiple times because the image on the screen was hilarious.  For evidence of this:  Please look below.

  What makes each of these funny is the fact that the actions being preformed don’t make sense in the given setting.  Examples:  Dancing naked… in front of a (semi-close) friend, discussing embarrassing moments… in an elevator with a stranger, checking your friend out… while he’s using the urinal.  These images all host a contrast between conventional setting and unconventional actions.  This is purposefully done by the directing team to make the character’s seem every more ridiculous and hilarious.  I think this is a common tactic by the crew for New Girl because of the contrasting nature of the show based in the stark differences between Jess and the guys.

The second aspect of the show which was cleverly directed was the running of similar plot lines.  Both Nick and Winston are having confidence issues (Nick with dating life and Winston with his career).  Jess and Schmidt respectively work to boost Nick and Winston’s confidence.  And as the similar story progress the show quickly pans back and forth between the two parties at play.  This move by the director is done to show both the similarities and differences of our characters.

Through this rapid back and forth from scene to scene the audience see’s how Nick and Winston both are doubting themselves and their decisions.  The director uses this to create sympathy for the characters.  The director also shows the different ways in which characters deal with their doubts (dancing to Jamaican music and crying over one’s wikipedia page).  This hilarious contrast is used to get laughs, successfully so I might add.

New Girl certainly isn’t a blockbuster action movie but it’s cinematography and direction should not be ignored.

 

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