How ‘New Girl’ Let Me Down

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Photo Source: The Amherst Student

Disclaimer: I won’t pretend that I’m an authority on feminism. I am not trained in socially conscious language and I am often being educated by my more socially involved friends. What I am an authority on is my own personal life experiences as a woman and a geek and that is the place that I am coming from.

That being said, ‘New Girl’ has become such a disappointment for me.

When the show started I was so excited to see a more accurate portrayal of female geeks. Not only that, but the female geek was the lead character. The first episode alone had three references to LOTR and an abundance of crafting jokes. Obviously, she didn’t represent geeky women as a whole. She was a representation of one type of woman in the world and whether you liked that representation or not I personally identified with a lot of her character traits.

It was in the middle of the first season when I started to really notice a change. Jess wasn’t really geeky anymore. She was klutzy and weird but the pop culture references had stopped. She liked knitting, making jam and making up weird songs. To me those are just common interests with nothing inherently geeky about them. Soon she swapped roles with the men. She was no longer the socially clueless woman who was watched over by her dysfunctional roommates. She became the mother figure, constantly trying to wrangle three rowdy, idiot boys. She still does weird things but they aren’t geeky. Just weird. She became what every female character on TV becomes: the mom.

This trope is insulting to both men and women alike. We are almost all in the same place in our mid-twenties and early thirties. We are trying to find our place in there world, figuring out who we are and what we stand for. Shows like this turn men into bumbling idiots who need the women in their lives to guide them through every obstacle with a wink and a sigh of defeat.

In the third season they did the one thing that always kills a show for me. They made one of the characters, Schmidt, into a cheater. As if his cheating weren’t bad enough he was also really terrible at it. The writers tried so hard to make him empathetic despite the cheating because ‘he is too dumb to know better’ or ‘his friend wasn’t there to guide him’ and all of that is total, utter bullishit. Now we are back to every other stupid, insipid television trope where men are stupid and we should feel bad for them and women are there to solve all of their problems.

This is coming from a show that had so much promise. The cast ranges in income, race and background. (I’ll talk about how much I love Cece in another blog update that I have planned.) The comedy is often spot on and the actors are all extremely talented. Winston is one of my all time favorite characters and the reason I still watch the show at all. In the end though, Jess is no longer the amazing character that she once was and I find that every time I watch an episode that she doesn’t mean nearly as much to me as she once did.

I miss you, Jessica Day. Maybe some day the world will be ready to watch you are you were originally intended. For now I’ll stick to Youtube scripted series like Squaresville and The Guild for some genuinely cool female geeks.

Want to watch and identify with actual geeky women? Here are some geeky feminists you should be following:

Stand-up comedian @NadiaKamil who has a feminist burlesque dance and a pap smear rap that are not to be missed.

Emily V. Gordon @thegynomite who co-hosts a video game podcast and her Tumblr provides positive body image advice.

Sandra Daugherty (@SexNerdSandra) offers sex-positive advice on her podcast Sex Nerd Sandra.

Mindy Kaling (@MindyKaling) WHY AREN’T YOU WATCHING ‘THE MINDY PROJECT’!?!

And last, but definitely not least, Yvette Nicole Brown (@YvetteNBrown) of Community fame (who is from Cleveland, near where I grew up) and is frequently on The Talking Dead.

I could go on and on with this list and I would be more than happy to upon request. Fear not friends, our female geeky idols are out there! We just need to spread the word!

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