The Words on the Page

New Girl (Pitch)

December 12, 2017

 

New Girl (Pitch)

Created by Elizabeth Meriwether

Pitch Document - Undated

Comedy, 8 pages

 

"This is mostly a show about awkward kids who give each other mostly terrible advice on their slow path to adulthood." - Elizabeth Meriwether

 

Instead of a more traditional bible, the pitch document for New Girl looks more like working notes or a a script for a live pitch. I'm basing that assumption on its format as the document simply isn't laid out in a way that makes it easy to read. While the order makes sense, everything runs into each other. There are no headers separating sections, and there are certainly no page breaks. Seemingly random phrases are written in bold, and the character descriptions are bulleted rather than written out in paragraph form. Still, the tone of the story - and Meriwether's style and voice - shine through.

 

The pitch opens with a joke. "The working title of the show is 'Chicks and Dicks.' But obviously this isn't France, so we'll have to change it." While the format and genre aren't specifically stated anywhere in the document, I immediately know this is a comedy. In case I missed it, Meriwether goes on to compare her piece to other shows while, at the same time, stating how hers is different, like "an Anti-Sex and the City, a reverse Three's Company" and, later, "'When Harry Met Sally...' without the ending." Her references (she later describes her lead, Jess, as "Lucille Ball trying to be Carrie Bradshaw") showcase her expertise in the genre and again highlight how New Girl is the same but different - the main quality every network is looking for in a new show.

 

Interestingly, the first page and a half of the pitch is about Meriwether and her life. She speaks about her actual guy friends and their interactions, essentially positioning herself as Jess (although this character has not yet been named). Following a couple of sentences on tone and three possible taglines, she shifts to talking about the fictional show and, more specifically, its protagonist, Jess.

 

For each character, Meriwether provides their role along with their name. Jess is the heart, Nick the brain, Schmidt the asshole, Coach the aggressive child, and Cece is the hot one. This continues for the minor characters of Caroline, Sergei, Guy, and Rebecca, but those character descriptions are only a sentence or two each. The five main characters, on the other hand, have bulleted lists detailing random facts that give a flavor of the character, like, for Coach, "he has a bottle of Calamine lotion near his bed and none of them know why." Ultimately, Coach is the character whose description in the pitch seems furthest from the realized character. Here he was born in the Bronx and is Jewish, constantly making (bad) jokes about his Jewishness. Perhaps more appropriately, this trait eventually went to Schmidt.

 

The other interesting piece of the character descriptions is that, even though this  is a comedy, the last sentence of each details the character's arc over the course of the show. The two I found most interesting are those of Nick ("Jess will slowly lead him to 'get his angries out,' and give him back his heart.") and Cece ("Jess uses her as a weapon - Cece is distraction or bait to get what she wants out of the guys.") Because these two descriptions are reliant on Jess, they showcase the relationship more than the individual character, and they also speak to conflict. It makes these three characters feel more connected than the others who are given more standalone arcs.

 

The pitch ends with a quick two paragraphs outlining the pilot followed by springboards for other episodes. What I was most engaged by was that two different kinds of episodes are outlined. An episode can either center on Jess pushing the guys to confront their feelings or on the guys helping Jess to stop living in her head. This shows two distinct flavors with innate conflict and gives a ying and yang feel, which is, after all, the show's story engine.

 

At the end of the pitch document, Meriwether circles back around to talking about her life in terms of the feedback one of her guy friends gave her on the pitch. In addition to pitching the show, she effectively pitches herself - she's lived this, therefore she's the one to write it. While that is never directly stated, the message comes through loud and clear. If you want New Girl, you need Meriwether. 

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