Watching anything on free-to-air isn’t an activity I succumb to all that often. Sometimes I’ll watch ABC news or SBS, but I rarely find myself soaking in the *ahem* programs on the other channels (reality TV is the mind-numbing bane of our generation). Like so many other cats with their heads screwed on tight, I stream US and UK shows online—Mad Men, Breaking Bad, True Blood, et al—because Oz TV hasn’t realised these shows are decent (Showtime doesn’t count; it costs money, money better spent on better things).

But this, dear readers, is all about to change. Sort of. This Sunday (January 22) Channel Ten is embarking on a potentially fruitful endeavour. It’ll be airing this at maybe 8pm…

First of all, this guy—me—loves Zooey Deschanel as much as anyone can love someone they’ve never met. Maybe. I’ve watched her movies (yes, even Failure to Launch; it was painful, but I got there in the end), and love them. In essence, she’s the same slightly odd, charming, purdy, eccentric, knockout babe in all of them. You could even say she has the ‘weird chick’ niche etched out like no one has before. Actually, think Molly Ringwald, only better and weirder. And her indie-ness makes me happy.

[Aside: Her and one Ben Gibbard broke up. Or so I’ve heard. REJOICE! He’s a good guy, but sometimes things just don’t work out. Too bad, big guy. Lucky you have all those other things going on. You think you got enough free time for a new Postal Service record? Thanks.]

OK, so. New Girl–the product of Elizabeth Meriwether’s loverly imagination–is fun. Fun in ways most comedies on TV are not. The premise, which you’ll gain/have gained from watching this weekend, is that Jess (Zooey Deschanel) finds her boyfriend cheating on her, so she moves in with three single guys. Cue hilarity!

In the first episode, the trio of housemates consists of Nick (Jake Johnson), the recently dumped, sort of emotional, mature, kind-hearted bartender, who is a bit of a geek; Schmidt (Max Greenfield), a frat boy, corporate worker, who constantly takes his shirt off and talks as if here were proper gangster ( what whaaaaa? Playa playaaaaaaa), which forces him to pay many a fine into the ‘douchebag jar’; Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.), a personal trainer with a tendency to yell really loudly at people. In the second episode, Coach leaves and is replaced by Winston (Lamorne Morris). Winston has just returned from Latvia after playing professional basketball for a couple of years. He’s jobless, has no idea about how life works in a first world country and it takes a while to warm to him. But he’s OK in the end. Oh, and then there’s CC (Hannah Simone), Jess’ best friend, who is a model and is hot and is a model and makes Winston and Schmidt her playthings in one episode. Mwahahahaha, point and laugh and the boys!

As a comedy, New Girl is kind of like most other comedies on TV. It has laughter, a bit of romance, really awkward situations, etc., etc. But what makes it like the sort of cooler, alternative cousin of the normal friend you have, is the presence of Deschanel. She stars in it, sings it and produces some of it, and the character of Jess was surely written for her. She brings naïve innocence to the role that makes you wish you were more naïvely innocent. And there’s something about her that makes me—and surely everyone else—swoon when she’s on-screen. Maybe it’s her eyes and her hair, or perhaps her voice, or maybe just her as a human? Who knows. Add it to the list of Dionysian mysteries.

Meriwether writes so damn well for her too. She takes regular sitcom situations and puts them in a blender and makes them into a tastier pâté. For example, Jess is going on a date with a guy and has overalls on with heels, wanting to go for the whole farmer’s daughter look. CC makes her change into a bangin’ black dress and when she comes out into the living room, all three guys are like ‘woah, she’s hot under all that weird’. Then, obviously because this isn’t a regular comedy, Jess shatters the façade by krumping the shit out of the next five seconds. If you don’t love her after that then you’re a soulless harbinger of evil! (She destroys another similar moment with fake buck teeth. It’s great).

New Girl makes you happy that someone has come up with a show to pull the population out of the vice-like grip of reality TV. And considering the big bad dramas on HBO and ACM never really see the light of day here, it’s nice that Channel Ten have their priorities in order and have secured at least one show worth watching.

Just be prepared to have two things happen after you watch New Girl:

1. You will fall in love with her;

2. You’ll find yourself wandering around your life singing:

Hey girl, whatcha’ doin’?

Hey girl, where ya goin’?

Who’s that girl?

(Who’s that girl?)

Who’s that girl?

(Who’s that girl?)

It’s Jess!

It’s Jess! I say that so often. It’s as if they were some kind of magical TV words that make Jess appear in my house, where adventures would ensue and we’d be merry together. Ugh. Wrap it up, Horne. OK. New Girl is worth your time and will make Sunday nights cool again, like back when they had Sunday night movies. This is the best decision Ten has made since showing The O.C. back in 2002.


New Girl screens on Network 10 at 8pm this Sunday, January 22, and every other Sunday after that forever, or something.