Is Zooey Deschanel adorkable enough to heal America's fractured soul? She's done it for TV, according to Brett Baer, so why not?
In an interview with WGA magazine Written By, executive producer Baer said that, "We were all surprised by how connected people felt [to the pilot]. I was thinking long and hard about it, and I said to Dave [Finkel, another executive producer on the show], 'What we've done here is created maybe the first post-post-9/11 show. The comedy in the past 10 years prior to our show had an edge to it," he said. "It was satirical. There was a cynicism about the comedy. What our show came along at the right time for — this weird alchemy that happened — is that we were willing for the first time to go, It's okay to feel again."*
*Thanks to Vulture for these quotes.
He's not wrong in one respect. Quality television has become practically synonymous over the last decade with cynical, untrusting protagonists, and with painting the world in shades of grey instead of the blacks and whites of good and evil, happy and sad. If you're looking for examples, they're almost endless, but just to name a few: "The Sopranos," "The Wire," "Battlestar Galactica," "Lost," "Deadwood," "House," "Breaking Bad," and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." And on the comedy front, we've got "30 Rock," "Arrested Development," "The Office," and "Louie." Hell, it's not just "quality" television that's been bathing in cynicism, the popular stuff has been affected, too. Even fluffy ABC show "Castle" has a cynical undercurrent running through it, and you can't turn a corner on CBS without running into some sort of murder or government conspiracy. Don't even get me started on reality shows, which often feed off of our worst desires: to gain enjoyment out of the greed, pain, or suffering of others (see "The Real Housewives," "The Bachelor/ette," "Hoarders," etc.).
Baer does acknowledge that he "might be completely boneheaded and wrong" about his theory, but he is insistent on the idea that "New Girl" is "the first show that actually tries to emotionally connect on that level."
If the idea of "post-post-9/11 TV shows" is going to be taken seriously, then I think we all have to agree that Baer's statement that "New Girl" is the first of its kind is simply wrong. "Parks and Recreation" started giving us doses of cheerful optimism and heaping spoonfuls of sugary feelings way back in 2009. Amy Poehler's Leslie Knope is the most un-cynical character on network television, and she's a politician no less. "New Girl" may have the ratings, but if we're talking firsts, then "Parks and Rec" might take the crown.