I probably would have loved New Girl regardless – I mean it’s Zooey Deschanel and a good plot and cute, funny co-stars, what’s not to love? But the refreshing lack of obvious, cheap shot fat jokes has earned this sitcom a double thumbs up in my book.
Perhaps it’s because the character of Schmidt – sort of a poor man’s Barney Stinson, but with a dash of humility – used to be chubby. He explains that he will “…just always be the fat kid with big dreams” (season 1, episode 5 “Cece Crashes”)
In two other episodes, we see a bit of restraint in the snark department, even though there were easy opportunities to fit them in. Example:
Schmidt: Jess, you know what? I’ll let you check my lost and found. It’s where I put all the stuff that girls leave behind in my room after we fornicate. I’ve got sizes 0-10.
-New Girl, season 1 episode 2 “Kryptonite”
Let’s be clear – I’m not at all suggesting that a size 10 = plus size. I feel quite to the contrary, and delved into the topic in another recent post: Tim Gunn’s Comments On Plus Size Fashions – Helping Or Hurting? That being said, there are two things that I liked about this quote. One, I appreciate that Schmidt’s range of acceptable sizes even extends up to a double digit. Many people seem to think that anything above a size 6 is huge and plus size. The fashion industry might define size 10 as plus size, but most of us see that as a normal girl size. The second thing that I liked was the lack of a fat joke immediately afterwards. They could have tossed in a Barney-esque “no fatties” line, but they let it be. I appreciate that!
The third quote comes along a few episodes later, when Schmidt goes to visit Cece at work. Cece and Jess are BFFs, and Schmidt has been enamored with her since the pilot. He brings her a custom perfume, and the following conversation ensues:
Schmidt: You look awesome.
Cece: It’s a ‘before’ and ‘after’ for a Bolivian diet pill.
Schmidt: Elgatrax? Yeah, I’ve taken that.
Model: I’m ‘before’.
Schmidt: Su-sure you are, look at that.
-New Girl, season 1 episode 9 “Cece Crashes”
Aside from Schmidt’s slight akwardness – which I suspect has very little to do with her weight – there was no fat joke here. There was ample (no pun intended) room for the writers to throw in a disparaging remark about the plus size model, but they chose not to go that route. I give credit to the writers for letting that one stand.
As a writer (though not the same kind, of course), I can appreciate that it’s often more difficult to be funny saying less than it is to be funny saying more. You can add in jokes to guarantee a laugh, but concise, witty dialogue is hard to do. I did some research, and per IMDB/Wikipedia, the author and producer of New Girl is a woman named Elizabeth Meriwether. She is joining Tina Fey on my list of funny female writers to emulate!