Young women around my age, what I assume to be the target audience for this show, love it because we all feel like we can relate to Jess. Assumed thought process: SHE'S WEIRD! -->AND I'M WEIRD! -->SHE'S JUST LIKE ME! -->AND SHE'S ADORABLE! -->SO I MUST BE ADORABLE!--> YAAAAY! I'M ADORABLE! Hold it right there, sister. That's where things get dicey. See, Jess is adorable because she is played by Zooey Deschanel, who, by her very nature is darling. What you get when you take her out of the equation is an unstable young woman with a very loose grip on reality. It's bad news for girls to start idolizing a character like this. She's naive to the point that it's dangerous. In the pilot episode, Jess excitedly tells her new roommates about a date she'd just made: "You know what? You guys were totally right. I talked in short sentences. I didn't sing. I laughed, I smiled, I said I needed rebound sex and it totally worked! He asked me out! Dinner. With food." Now, I can't deny that that is some charming writing, and don't get me wrong, Deschanel's delivery of the line was flawless, but the content? Not good.
As the season progresses, I'm starting to feel that Jess is less than just a cute and quirky schoolteacher and more of a helpless, naive girl who needs to be taken care of by her manly roommates. Although she does take on a motherly role emotionally for the boys, and babysits a drunken CeCe in the fifth episode, she's awkward to the point of being nonfunctioning in most social situations and even, at times, puts her safety at risk (jumping out of the car to avoid talking to Nick about why she's being weird... telling a random stranger she needs rebound sex...)
I know from the personal experience of being a one-time sixteen-year-old girl that it is easy and even expected to pick TV and book and movie characters that you admire and attempt to emulate them. I just hope that young girls realize as they're watching this show that yes, Zooey Deschanel is a great actress with unfairly good hair, and yes, the writers of The New Girl are clever and refreshing, and yes, it's good to see a lovable female weirdo carry a primetime network series, but that we should appreciate her for what she is: a comedic CHARACTER, not someone after whom to model our behavior. I think it's great that Jess (and the show in general) is all about embracing your weirdness, which is something I think everyone should probably do a little more. I just worry that people will mistake that message for the message of "Be more weird... Like this!"
Anyway, that's my two cents. I'm off to try to get that damn catchy theme song out of my head... Who's that girl?... Who's that girl?... It's Jess!