Tag Archives: Zooey Deschanel

In Defence of Feminine Strength (Re: In Defense of the Warrior-Princess)

When I initially read Gordon’s response to the post I wrote last week, I asked myself, should I be offended?

You see, my original post was one of my more personal pieces, where I touched on my struggle with self-acceptance (as a rather sensitive person) in a culture highly influenced by what I described as the warrior-princess/damsel binary.

As a child, I believed that I needed to become emotionless in order to be strong, and masculine in order to be taken seriously. That’s why I find characters who are feminine and strong, like those often played by Zooey Deschanel, an encouraging presence in films and TV shows.

So, you can probably see why, being the sensitive person that I am, Gordon’s closing statement came off as a wee bit hurtful:

Deschanel states that “we can be powerful in our own way, our own feminine way” [emphasis added].

No you ****ing can’t.

From what I know of Gordon, he seems like a pretty good guy, so I’m going to act under the assumption that he was not writing an attack on my personal character, but rather a critique of the concept of feminine strength as represented by Deschanel. That critique is what I will be responding to in the points below. If you don’t watch New Girl, then be aware, there are spoilers below.

1. The Critique Begins with Flawed Logic

I have to thank one of our most faithful commenters, Rosie, for pointing out the “strawman argument” made in Gordon’s critique. In “In Defense of the Warrior-Princess” Gordon describes traditionally feminine characteristics using words like “submissive” and “weak”, words that neither I, nor Deschanel used to describe femininity. Using these sort of terms creates a false dichotomy between my argument and his.

He also claims that Deschanel plays “ditzy, emotional, pathologically neurotic” characters “who don’t need no man to help them”. He includes a crying gif of Jessica Day, the character Deschanel plays in New Girl as evidence.

This isolated gif ignores the wider context of the show, where every single character deals with their day-to-day life in a “ditzy, emotional, pathologically neurotic” sort of way.

It also ignores how New Girl is not at all about being the kind of person “who don’t need no man”. Instead, this show demonstrates how relationships lead to personal growth. It also shows how every person sits somewhere on a spectrum between sensitive and stoic, and how both of these traits are essential to becoming a healthy individual. Continue reading

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Girls: 2 Broke and One New [Pt. 2] – Humour

This is the second part of a three-part series on CBS’ 2 Broke Girls and Fox’s New Girl, both shows that premiered in the fall of 2011. In yesterday’s post I went into some detail about the cast of both shows, and this time I’m going to address the element of both that, hopefully, helps them put the “com” in sitcom.

HUMOUR

2 Broke Girls was created by Michael Patrick King, the openly gay writer whose claim to fame is HBO’s Sex and the City [he wrote all of the season premieres and finales, and was responsible for its adaptation to the big screen], and Whitney Cummings, comedian and star of her own NBC sitcom, Whitney.

Cummings has, for the most part, been preoccupied with her show, and because of that it’s King who takes the onus for much of the show’s writing. Now I do want to save a lot of potential content for tomorrow and the final part of this series, so what I’m going to share are a few of his words about where the show is coming from:

I think our show is a big, ballsy comedy, but it has a bigger heart than it has balls.

I feel that it is broad and brash and very current.

I consider our jokes really “classy-dirty.” They’re high low-brow. I think they’re fun and sophisticated and naughty and I think everybody likes a good naughty joke.

“Ballsy” is a pretty accurate statement for a show on a broadcast network that has, by my count, averaged nearly two rape jokes per episode. It also describes well the decision to include in this week’s episode, “And The Kosher Cupcakes,” a 13-year-old Jewish boy implying he’d soon be receiving oral sex from one of the show’s female leads.

Edginess aside, do I think it’s funny? As evidenced by the video proceeding this paragraph Kat Dennings has her tone down when it comes to delivering dry, deadpan lines. Beth Behrs’ Caroline has a knack for visual humour [see last week’s: “And The Broken Hearts”] and even Oleg, the lascivious fry cook, has his moments where you can’t help but grin at his audacity. Whether it’s funny throughout, however, is a different story.


Continuity and pacing aside, a lot of the times lines fall flat. “And The Broken Hearts” featured a joke between Jennifer Coolidge’s Sophie and Jonathan Kite’s Oleg where the two riffed on the variations on the word “come,” a scene so horrid that I’m cringing as I rewatch it. The show may not shy away from dealing with topics like masturbation and drug abuse, but “shock and awe” doesn’t always equal “amuse” or even “entertain.”

New Girl was and is created, produced, and written by Elizabeth Meriwether; her largest claim to fame is the 2011 Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher-driven comedy No Strings Attached.

Now I don’t have the public uproar that surrounds 2 Broke Girls available to create articles about New Girl, so I’m going to have to address its humour with largely my own words. Though the show began with the passable premise that a quirky female teacher moving in with three men was going to create conflict, the show has since moved beyond that in leaps and bounds.

Zooey Deschanel was, without question, the reason many tuned in, but I don’t believe it’s why they return. Jake Johnson’s Nick and Max Greenfield’s Schmidt both own their roles, and are arguably even funnier when clashing with each other. Case in point:


Where King’s show relies on a lot of wordplay and snarky jabs, courtesy of Kat Dennings, Meriwether’s is one that puts the “domestic” and the “comedic” in “dom com.” In addition, the characters all bring their own brand of humour to the table, with Schmidt’s douchiness, Nick’s freakouts [see above], or Jess’, well, Zooey-ness.

It’s not even that the show shies away from sex and the like. An entire episode revolved around Jess seeing Nick’s penis [much to Schmidt’s curiosity], and her willingness to have a threesome is strangely adorable. The difference is that it’s not overly-raunchy or in-your-face; for the show sex is another part of life, and one that’s plainly funny as opposed to darkly so.

I realize that there are significantly more clips from New Girl, but the fact is that I think the show is funnier overall, and you can always look for more stuff from 2 Broke Girls on YouTube if you’d like. As the head writer, King has a pretty decent cast of characters [again, see last post] available to him, and if he wants to give them lots of sarcasm and whatnot that’s entirely up to him. It’s fine to be “ballsy” or “classy-dirty” but the intention should be to have your audience laughing, not shaking their heads and saying “I can’t believe they just said that.”