Zooey Deschanel

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl May Be Dead, But Film’s Shallow Female Characters Live On

Is it a big deal when the person who coined a term disowns it? In Salon, culture journalist Nathan Rabin has penned a piece called “I’m Sorry For Coining the Phrase ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl,'” where he apologizes for naming the archetype in an 2007 A.V. Club review that dissected Kirsten Dunst’s insufferable character in Elizabethtown. Rabin’s moment of insight eventually yielded a million think-pieces, Zooey Deschanel’s Emmy-nominated mainstream brand, John Green’s writing career, and a wave of cultural criticism that took to task — in manners both dismissive and frustrating — the phenomenon of female characters, often young, feeling like shallow, one-dimensional girls there to prop up a male protagonist. … Read More

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Feminist-Minded Critical Memes Like “The Bechdel Test” and “Manic Pixie Dream Girls” Are Losing Their Power

There is something of a thrill the first time that somebody accurately points out just what it is that’s a noxious, recurring theme in pop culture. Certainly there was a frisson of yes, that’s it! when Nathan Rabin, formerly of The A.V. Club and currently of The Dissolve, wrote in 2007 about the cinema’s penchant for manic pixie dream girls, stemming from Kirsten Dunst’s beautifully annoying performance in Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown: half-drawn girlfriend characters from indie-minded cinema in the 2000s, where the girl is quirky and only the lead character can see her beauty and she will heal him with her lust for life. Similarly, the Bechdel test — a test named for Alison Bechdel, which examines whether a work of fiction has two female characters who conduct a conversation about something apart from a male character — has become ubiquitous. But ultimately, are these reductive measurements of feminist cred helpful? … Read More

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‘New Girl’ Season 3 Finale Recap: “Cruise”

Like many third seasons of sitcoms, this season of New Girl has had its ups and downs. It was particularly rough in the beginning and though no episode was straight-up unwatchable, there were a few that were disappointing. Off the top of my head? “The Box,” “Thanksgiving III,” and “Prince” (sorry, Prince fans!) are episodes that I don’t ever need to watch again. Around “Birthday,” a classically funny episode that became an instant favorite for me, New Girl began to reassure me that it hadn’t gone downhill just yet; it was just having some adjustment issues. … Read More

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‘New Girl’ Season 3 Episode 21 Recap: “Big News”

Here is a universal truth: Breakups suck. It doesn’t matter if it’s one-sided or mutual, quiet or explosive, longterm or a shorter fling — whatever the case, breakups will always suck, at least a little bit, no matter how much you try to pretend that they don’t. It’s also a universal life event that’s full of awkwardness, which is why breakups are such great fodder for sitcoms. New Girl is aware of this fact and the show has played around with various approaches in the past (all of the main characters have gone through a breakup at one point or another during these three seasons) but it still manages to tackle the subject in new ways. … Read More

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‘New Girl’ Season 3 Episode 20 Recap: “Mars Landing”

There is so much happening within this half-hour of New Girl that I’m not exactly sure where to begin. There is so much good happening, I should clarify, but there’s also a bit of heartbreak. The first two acts of the episode had me laughing nonstop. It was joke after joke after joke—visual gags, physical comedy, character bits, perfect punchlines—and everything was completely on point. The writing and the acting were all top notch tonight (and, as always with the show, a specific shoutout to the editors) and it was a good reminder of just how far this show has come from its shaky beginnings, how well this cast works together, and how invested we all in Nick and Jess’ relationship. “Mars Landing” took seemingly small bits and blew it up to a stunning conclusion—and it’s one of the best episodes of New Girl to date. … Read More

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‘New Girl’ Season 3 Episode 19 Recap: “Fired Up”

The last three episodes of New Girl have been loads of fun, thanks in part to some great stuff from guest star Linda Cardellini. It was cool to see some shake-up within the loft as a little chaos was introduced into the lives of characters who had finally found some stability. When Abby bailed, she left Schmidt penniless and therefore homeless. He had to resort to moving back into the loft and now everything seems back to normal (even Coach’s presence is starting to feel like he was always around), but how good is this return to normalcy for the show? … Read More

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‘New Girl’ Season 3 Episode 17 Recap: “Sister II”

Last time we saw New Girl, a long two weeks ago, Jess’ older sister Abby (Linda Cardellini) had temporarily moved into the loft and the show. It was a good move to throw in a person that effortlessly fits in with the rest of the group (both Abby as a character and Cardellini as an actress) but also, simultaneously, is different enough that she’s going to do some serious damage and throw these people for a loop. And that’s exactly what she does in “Sister II.” … Read More

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‘New Girl’ Season 3 Episode 16 Recap: “Sister”

So far, New Girl has had an uneven third season. There weren’t any bad episodes, but there were a few that felt slightly off and lacking in the consistent laughs and electricity that ran throughout the stellar second season. New Girl threw itself a few curveballs only to get mixed results. First, there was the awful love triangle storyline with Schmidt, a plot that only made him incredibly unlikable. Then there was the return of Coach (and who doesn’t love Damon Wayans, Jr.?), although New Girl didn’t exactly know what to do with him — after all, the show hadn’t quite figured out what to do with Winston, either. In recent episodes, though, New Girl has been building itself back up slowly but surely, and “Sister” proves that the show still hasn’t run out of steam. … Read More

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How Prince Ended Up on ‘New Girl’

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