The enduring rom-sitcom subgenre changed forever when “New Girl” walked through the front-door of 4D. On September 20, 2011, bonafide television genius Liz Meriwether — then known for the Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher-starring film “No Strings Attached” — debuted the pilot episode of what would become her breakout comedy series on Fox.
Starring Zooey Deschanel as the terminally optimistic school teacher Jessica Day — nicknamed Jess — “New Girl” told the story of six friends brought together by their chaotic lives in Los Angeles. Hannah Simone played Jess’s best friend Cece: a fiercely funny and protective model wary of her friend’s new living situation.
At the loft, Jake Johnson, who had previously appeared in indie gem “Paper Heart” as well as the Russell Brand-starring “Get Him to the Greek,” dazzled in his breakout role as Nick: a dyed-in-the-wool good guy and bartender whose low self-esteem leaves him unlucky in love. Max Greenfield too nailed his (so far) most iconic role on any screen big or small as Schmidt: a materialistic marketing associate and self-proclaimed ladies’ man responsible for many of the show’s funniest lines.
Damon Wayans Jr. (who, yes, is the son of comedian Damon Wayans and nephew to the “Scary Movie” Wayans) appeared first in the pilot as Coach: a macho personal trainer whose loyalty and heart of gold helped him slowly overcome his trouble communicating with women. Wayans left the series to work on David Caspe’s “Happy Endings,” but reprised his role in Season 3. Starting with the second episode, Lamorne Morris began his triumphant run as the singular Winston: a former pro basketball player in Latvia whose return to the United States eventually sees him become a cat-loving police officer.
At the 2012 Emmys, “New Girl” Season 1 received nods for Outstanding Casting and Outstanding Main Title Design. Deschanel was recognized with a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress, while Greenfield was honored for Outstanding Supporting Actor. Executive producer Jake Kasdan was nominated for Outstanding Directing thanks to the pilot. Although the series won none of those titles and would receive no more Emmy nominations, it was recognized across various other awards bodies and remains a favorite rewatch of the 2020s streaming generation.
From its more emotional chapters to the ones too funny to not include, here are the 10 all-around best “New Girl” episodes ever made.