Let’s talk about New Girl and feminist analysis

I’m in a slump. General life slump; general lack of interest in doing anything. WAS TUN?

Well. You get your Netflix back and binge watch all the shows and while you wait it out.

I was on my couch mindlessly staring at episode 75847 of New Girl, and it suddenly dawned on me that this show, it’s kinda gender stereotypical. Kinda like a lot. Kind of feels like the driving force of the show is gender stereotypes and general gender prejudice. I would not hesitate to call New Girl anti-feminist. And I never noticed?

Or is there something I’m missing? Maybe I’m not reading it right?

Had to search for a proper feminist analysis of New Girl. Found a thesis on the subject aaand…well it was really very interesting so I didn’t get any further.

According to this thesis on New Girl vs. Girls, I am so wrong. Could not be more wrong. Let’s discuss!

This is the conclusion of the thesis: “Jess on New Girl represents a much more promising feminist icon than Hannah on Girls.”

Effectively making me doubly wrong, in a way. I am completely reading Girls as a feminist work. But admittedly, never did a study. It’s just a feeling.

The thesis explains “This is mainly because Jess is driven by self-love and self-confidence while Hannah is so defined by her self-hatred that she becomes difficult for viewers to relate.”

Wait what? Because all people in the world love themselves and are filled with confidence…? Because all characters and situations in New Girl are so realistic, i.e. relatable…?

Isn’t one of the main reasons for Girls’ success the fact that it is relatable? Yes, Hannah is an unpleasant sort of character, but that’s exactly it, it is the very thing that makes her relatable. Princess percentage = 0, making her relatable to I would say a fair number of people. In addition to which we need female characters that are allowed to exist with all of their flaws. The fact that female characters generally aren’t allowed to exist if they don’t meet the patriarchal definition of female makes any cultural expression that does allow it automatically feminist.

I can relate to Girls in general to a far greater extent than New Girl. In fact I can’t relate to New Girl at all. Are you telling me I’m completely abnormal? (I wouldn’t mind, but it seems unlikely. I’m not that special.)

In addition. I don’t think Hannah as a character was intended to be a feminist icon, as in all hail Hannah let’s all go out and copy her looks and behavior. I don’t even understand how you could possibly be reading it that way.

The author goes on at length about female comediennes. “Audiences do not respond well to female comics. They typically like comediennes who stick to prescribed gender norms and categories.” You mean like the character of Jess..? Which would explain your defense of this character…?

I have more questions.

This thesis is an analysis from a third-wave feminist perspective. To be honest. I don’t know what this would mean. Sounds very vague. Is there an official definition of the concept that can be used for analysis? I mean is it a theory? I’m only asking because this question remains unanswered in the thesis. The writer explains first-wave feminist, criticizes second-wave feminism, and then never explains third-wave. Not sure how you’re meant to follow the reasoning when a definition is missing. I mean, I don’t know how you interpret feminist, nor feminism. I think there might be some disagreement within the ism as to what it is, which kinda makes a definition necessary.

Whereas. Whereas this here, seems random and unnecessary:

Girls, on the other hand, was less commercially successful than New Girl, but more critically beloved. Despite its critical acclaim, Girls has received a lot of backlash from viewers and even actor James Franco, who call the show overrated, unfunny, and whiny.”

I see. So James Franco is an authority on the subject and his opinion matters to a point where it must be randomly included? Speaking of which, not sure whether or not it is a good thing that a thesis where feminism is used as theory completely lacks any reference what so ever to Simone de Beauvoir. But I guess, the James Franco reference makes up for it…?

In my world. If you’re a feminist, Simone is the icon, and you will want to randomly mention her, regardless of it being relevant. But maybe that’s just me…

This thesis, though, basically argues that Jess is a feminist icon (or role model which is apparently a synonym??) because she is asexual, childlike, open to talking about sex (while at the same time struggling with being able to use proper grown-up names for the reproductive organs), extremely feminine (expressed through clothing), not meeting the heterosexual standards (???), and, because she fills several typical female roles, because Jess, as a teacher, stops a bully in her school (apparently stopping bullies is a job for a man, not a teacher, thus breaking gender boundaries).

I don’t feel convinced.

To me this only reads as “OK, fine, you can be on the show and you can be funny, but you have to be pleasing to the eye and you need to fit into the feminine box”. If New Girl actually was challenging, in any type way, it would create as much division as Girls. James Franco would be whining about it.

The thesis seems to argue “oh but she’s feminine and empowered” and that is what’s challenging current world order.

I’m not quite following. That’s like this constant talk about strong women. As if there’s a contradiction there, as if strong women are a rarity. I don’t know where you come from, but where I’m from, it’s not and it’s not.

Then there’s the father argument. The thesis argues that Jess “embodies the characteristics of the father”. Because she provides advice and coaching for her friends and students (yes, that’s very father-specific), guides and protects the people and her life (again, so exclusive for the father), encourages friends to do more with their life (uh-huh, no mother ever did that, nope…).

Is this a joke?

I want to argue that the following supports the idea that it is in fact a joke: “Interestingly, he does not want to have sex with Jess alone, implying that Jess is not sexual enough to attract the landlord by herself. Once again, Jess is asexual. She needs something as extreme as another person to make her sexually appealing.” Oh. I did not know that was why people had threesomes. Because one of the persons is unattractive and a third person is needed to compensate. Had no idea.

Remember Lizzy Caplan played a lawyer on the show? I love Lizzy Caplan, because of her frequent micro fringe. It is my fringe ideal. Anyway. Her character’s called Julia; she’s slightly less feminine in her appearance and actions than Jess. “Julia seems to represent a stereotypical second-wave feminist. […] This suggests that to truly be empowered and happy, women need to be feminine. […] New Girl implies that all women need to be at least a little feminine.”

Said no feminist worthy of the name ever. OK, let me try and figure this out. I guess, (a) the second-wave feminist our enemy, and (b) the idea that women need to be feminine to be empowered and happy, is not problematic. This is feminism? Yes? I’ve literally no book on feminism that would agree, but sure, there are many types of feminism.

To be clear, I just want to add that I’m not saying that women shouldn’t want to be feminine, I’m also not saying that being or doing feminine (if you can do gender I’m sure you can do feminine too) has no value. It is far more valuable than we give it credit for. What I am saying that it is currently serving as a way to limit women, and it is a social construct, not innate. Saying that women need to be feminine is like saying we need patriarchy. Not only that we need patriarchy, but that we need patriarchy to define us. I resent that.

Here’s a radical idea: maybe it’s possible that people are different, and some people relate to Lena, and some to Zooey. But whether or not they’re relatable isn’t what makes a feminist icon/role model. It’s whether or not it challenges gender stereotypes. Something which this thesis has not convinced me New Girl does. You still need to be pretty and feminine to even be allowed on the show, neither of which is true in Girls. If we have to compare.

A more relevant comparison, which was briefly mentioned in the thesis was Roseanne, you know the 90s sitcom? In part because it is in fact a sitcom which would make for a fairer comparison, because they’re working with the same type of humor. It would also illustrate how we’ve regressed. Also I ♥ Roseanne.

But I guess Roseanne, the character, isn’t sufficiently relatable nor feminine, and thusly not a feminist icon by default. According to the logic of this thesis.

I’m starting to think I’m that evil second-wave feminist, a.k.a. the enemy of third-wave feminism (whatever that is). Yay finally proper villain status? Would also explain why my interpretation of New Girl is different. The world makes sense again?

2 thoughts on “Let’s talk about New Girl and feminist analysis”

  1. Hahaha. I want to read it now, but work won’t allow. I did start and was annoyed already at this: ” several studies released in 2011-2012 that indicated women are not as funny as their male counterparts”. NO SOURCES. Dude, if that is allowed in a master’s thesis I’d totally have been able to do it while working.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a lot of things like that I’m questioning, like the 3-page acknowledgement. Like really? No one said no? Sometimes I wonder if this is in fact not a thesis but some sort of propaganda planted by Fox.

      Like

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