Been rewatching New Girl, which I love. It's about a geeky girl who moves in with three guys. Some have called her a "manic pixie dream girl"* but she's not. Her weirdness isn't "ooh I'm a bird flying free listening to emo music." It's...
I brake for birds, I rock a lot of polka dots, I have touched glitter in the last 24 hours, ...and I find it fundamentally strange that you’re not a dessert person. That’s just weird, and it freaks me out. And I’m sorry I don’t talk like Murphy Brown, and I hate your pantsuit. I wish it had ribbons on it, or something to make it just slightly cuter. I’m about to go pay this $800 fine, and my checks have baby farm animals on them, bitch!
Some of my fave things...
1. There's no straight man. In the first couple episodes the only really weird characters are Jess and roommate Schmidt (he's the fan fave.)
But eventually everyone has a chance to be fucked up. I like stories full of weird people. Cause I think most people are weird. Even when I meet someone really straight, their straightness is just weird.
Cliff: So how did you get that far into law school and then drop out?
Nick: Well, I got my heart broken, and then everything got weird. I started playing guitar in an alt-country ska band, gambling a lot. There was a really weird week where I wore a long, blond wig and made everybody call me “Sandy Ferguson.”
Cliff: I have never loved anyone that much.
2. A lot of the humor comes from the real-life-a-tude. They don't have amazing jobs, their apartment's half broken down, they drive crap cars--they're all struggling with what life is often like in your 30s. (In other words, not Sex in the City.)
Yes. This happens. Seen it many times.
My best friend Gilby is actually... I have to admit... a bit Schmidt. It's what I lurv about him. I lurv dandies.
Guys do think about you while "self completing." ...But you can still be friends with them.
3. They avoid stereotypes well. Though the African-American character is a basketball player, it was for Latvia. And now he's back in the US with no job. Ends up nannying.
And Schmidt is Jewish, and Jess's best friend is of Indian descent, but they don't play this out in stereotypes the way they do in The Big Bang Theory. And when there is ethnic humor, it's still attached to the real world. That is to say, to racism, or violence. Like Schmidt telling a kissing couple, who's black:
“You know what, if this was my grandmother’s building, she’d be outside on the patio and she’d be yelling down on you and she’d be saying, ‘You look BEAUTY-FUL! The two of you are a BEAUTY-FUL couple! I’m glad you found one another!’ But she wouldn’t invite you up because she’s a horrible racist.”
4. These are good friendships. They take care of each other. Like in episode 2 when Jess is fighting with her ex-boyfriend and the boys put on her weird hats to back her up.
I may have to write another post about why I find Big Bang Theory funny in some parts, and blehhh in others.
* I should go on record as saying I don't mind this term when used in a limited sense. When applied too broadly, like to Annie Hall, Bringing Up Baby, and What's Up Doc, then I think it's sexist. I've never seen a cutesie term made up for a male character who's chaotic.