UPDATE: ‘The New Girl’ Is TV’s Newest Hit

by | September 21, 2011 at 1:02 PM | Fall TV Preview 2011, TV News

Zooey Deschanel is the 'New Girl' (Photo: Fox)

Zooey Deschanel is the 'New Girl' (Photo: Fox)


UPDATE: Looks like the “New Girl” is indeed the “It” girl of the fall TV season. Zooey Deschanel’s new Fox sitcom scored big in the ratings Tuesday night, debuting as the highest-rated show of the night. It pulled in 10.1 million viewers in the 9 p.m. hour, with an impressive 4.7 rating in the coveted adults 18-49 demo. That makes it the highest-rated Fox sitcom premiere since “Bernie Mac” 10 years ago, according to EW. What’s more, “New Girl” built on its lead-in, the third season premiere of “Glee,” which was down 32% from its premiere last fall, with 8.9 million and a 3.8 rating.

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There’s something about Zooey…

Her wide eyes. Her squeaky voice. Her “adorkable” charm. Zooey Deschanel brings her quirky self to television this fall in the Fox sitcom the “New Girl,” which debuts tonight.

The show centers around Jess, a cute but awkward “Dirty Dancing”-loving young woman going through a humiliating break-up who moves in with three guys, as they help her transition to the next phase of her life (and discover they need a little help themselves).

The pilot episode shows a lot of potential, and although TV critics have been split on the show itself, they almost universally have been charmed by its leading lady, and there’s a good chance viewers won’t be able to resist her either.

While making the reporter rounds promoting the buzz-heavy show, Deschanel chatted about being the “New Girl” on the TV block, even if she’s been called an “It” girl for years.

“I always think of myself as an underdog type,” Deschanel says. “But I’ve been called ‘it’ girl so many times, at different points in my career. So, I guess ‘it’ girl is sort of a flexible term. I just like working and having a job.”

Deschanel, who’s known mostly for her films (“500 Days of Summer,” “Elf”), doesn’t have reservations about joining the notorious grind of television.

“I just love this material,” she says. “Liz [Meriwether, the series creator] is amazing, and this is a character I could feel good about doing for a long time. From page one of the script, I knew this was really special.”

After reading that initial script, she knew this show was the one. “I was so blown away by how perfect it was for me and how funny it was, and sweet, and smart,” Deschanel explains. “I just fell in love with this project. I guess I hadn’t seriously considered any television shows before, but this was just too great to pass up.”

Meet the “New Girl”:

Deschanel confesses that her “adorkability” is exactly what she loves about her character Jess: “I really love that she’s totally herself, even though she’s awkward at times and kind of nerdy at times. She’s a real true modern woman.”

And if you guessed that there’s a little bit of Zooey shining through in Jess, you’d be right.

“This character, in a way, feels like my 13 year old self,” Deschanel says. “I was very open, loved to sing, was very kind of dorky … I really felt like I was in a musical all the time even though I wasn’t. There’s a lot of Jess that is very much like me.”

And, yes, sharp-eyed viewers may notice that we’ve seen a Deschanel playing a socially awkward character on Fox before; Zooey’s sister Emily Deschanel plays brilliant forensics expert Temperance Brennan on the procedural drama, “Bones.” But Zooey says there’s no competition between the sisters, whether they’re sharing an outfit or a network.

“I am just so lucky that I have the best older sister in the world who will give me advice and be so supportive,” Zooey says of Emily. “And you know, our shows are so different. She’s been working on that show for so long, and she has it down, but I look to her…she’s been giving me really practical advice.”

“New Girl” airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Fox.

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