“New Girl:” The Ultimate Comfort Show


Even though “New Girl” finished airing in 2018, it remains one of the most popular sitcoms today (Courtesy of Twitter).

Everyone has that one television show that they consider a guaranteed mood-booster. A show that they can always rely on to lift their spirits, no matter how many times they have watched it. For me, that show is “New Girl.” 

The seventh and final season of “New Girl” aired on Fox nearly four years ago. Its Netflix presence and dedicated fanbase have worked to keep the series somewhat relevant, but the show has become less prevalent in today’s mainstream media. However, just last month, I was blessed with the news that three of the show’s main cast members, Zooey Deschanel, Hannah   Simone and Lamorne Morris, will be hosting a podcast in which they rewatch “New Girl” and share never before told stories from their time on the show. Therefore, I feel that now is as good a time as any to share my high praise for the series and why I believe it has all the qualities of a great comfort show.

For those who are unfamiliar with the series, the sitcom follows four roommates in their early thirties struggling to navigate the complex world of adulthood. Jess is a quirky, upbeat grade school teacher whose optimistic outlook is constantly challenged by the people and obstacles in her life. Nick is a bartender with big ideas but little determination to see them through. In contrast, Schmidt is an ambitious marketing associate and self-proclaimed ladies’ man who strives to reach the top of the social and corporate ladder. Last, but certainly not least, is Winston, a former professional athlete who has trouble adjusting to a new career after leaving his basketball team in Latvia. Though they often find themselves in ridiculous or stressful situations, these characters are always there to support each other with relationship troubles, career decisions and anything else life throws at them. 

This type of storytelling is a key element of comfort television. The characters may experience some obstacles, but the audience is secure in the fact that the conflict will be resolved. For example (warning: spoilers ahead), Jess and Nick break up, threatening the group dynamic as the two feel that they need some time apart. However, three episodes and one literal cruise ship disaster later, the friendship between the two characters is restored and the gang returns to its usual antics.  

The use of simplistic and formulaic narrative structure can be seen in almost every sitcom. Thus, its use in “New Girl” does not make the series stand out in any way. What does distinguish the show from its sitcom counterparts is its characters. Whether it’s their personality, their principles or how they treat others, each member of the ensemble cast possesses certain qualities that I either relate to or aspire to adopt. Even Jess, a character who is not a typical favorite among fans, has her moments of admirability. I’ll admit that her eccentric behavior can feel a little off-putting at times, but one aspect of Jess’ character that deserves praise is her unwavering self-confidence. One of the hardest obstacles many people face in life is learning how to feel secure in who they are and not letting other people dictate their actions and interests. Jess constantly interacts with people who reject her optimistic perspectives or unique style, yet she never lets that rejection affect her on a personal level, a skill that most, if not all, people are still trying to perfect.

As I adjust to adulthood myself, one element of the show that I have increasingly come to appreciate is the way that the writers depict the characters’ professional lives. Each character’s story covers a common struggle that people often face when entering the workforce. Jess and Schmidt represent those who heard their professional calling early in life, and while they may grapple with unfavorable work environments, they rarely doubt that they have found their passion. Nick’s story, on the other hand, speaks to those who choose to change career paths to pursue their passion, even if their new profession is not as socially respectable as the previous one. Winston’s character also recognizes the need for a career change, but must undergo several different professions before finding his match. No matter which character’s journey they relate to the most, audiences can take comfort in seeing that choosing a career is not always as simple as people make it out to be.

So what are you waiting for? Go watch “New Girl,” currently available to stream on Netflix, and experience its feel-good effects for yourself. If you have already completed and enjoyed all seven seasons, I suggest you give it a rewatch. It will only enhance your appreciation for the wonderful characters, wholesome relationships and ridiculous humor.