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'New Girl's' Zooey Deschanel: What the Critics Are Saying

They're smitten with the "adorable" actress, who they say could make Fox's new sitcom "the most popular series on TV."

Zooey Deschanel
Isabella Vosmikova/FOX

Critics are smitten with Zooey Deschanel in Fox's New Girl, which premiered Tuesday night in the prime post-Glee timelsot.

"Fox and everybody else is overusing the term 'adorable' to describe Zooey Deschanel in New Girl, but then again, she's pretty damn adorable," admits The Hollywood Reporter's chief TV critic Tim Goodman.

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"And that might be the ticket (and the magic) for this mostly romantic comedy," he goes on. "Fox has taken to calling Deschanel 'adorable' -- and that works, too, because she plays a dorky but lovable optimist whose cad of a boyfriend cheats on her and sends her reeling out into the world, needing a new apartment and a lot of coddling/coaching."

"Viewers will want Jess to make it in life because, well, you'd have to be pretty jaded not to. This might seem like a thin premise, but creator Elizabeth Meriwether manages to make the situations funny and lets Deschanel channel her charm -- a winning combination," he adds. "Like most shows this fall, it's difficult to judge where it is going based on the pilot, so every positive must be accorded an asterisk denoting that the whole thing could go sideways in the next few episodes. But a series like New Girl has that It factor -- Deschanel -- which makes it something to let grow."

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David Hinckley of the New York Daily News says that Deschanel "will fill the room with light even if you're watching on an iPod."

"Deschanel could simply be winsome and wounded. She's not. She's proactive, and not always in a smart way. She also wears glasses that make her look a little nerdish, reflecting the fact Jess is a teacher rather than, say, an assistant at a trendy gallery," he writes.

The Los Angeles Times' Mary McNamara says, "Jess is the keystone of the show and Deschanel, with her impossibly blue eyes peeking out from behind her horn rims and up from under unkempt bangs, fills her with the charming and willful childishness usually reserved for characters played by male comedians — Will Ferrell in Elf, Adam Sandler in, well, just about anything. Deschanel's essential sexiness is impossible to eradicate, but she uses all its elements — the eyes, that voice, those curves — to fine comedic effect, playing dorky the way Judy Holliday, Carole Lombard or even Lucille Ball played dumb."

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"Which is to say, with the occasional sensual growl and knowing twinkle in her eye, letting everyone know that Jess is in on the joke. Like the men around her, she has a level of self-awareness that belies her often clumsy actions," she adds.

Robert Bianco of USA Today writes that, "New Girl' could soon be the most popular series on TV."

"From its infancy, TV has had funny ladies to help power its sitcoms, from Lucille Ball through such diverse talents as Mary Tyler Moore, Bea Arthur and Roseanne, all the way up to Patricia Heaton, Tina Fey and Julie Bowen. If [Tuesday's] New Girl debut is a fair indication, that list may add a name: Zooey Deschanel," he writes.

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"Given a role tailored to launch her from respected indie actor to certified TV star, Deschanel soars, combining well-honed skills with a natural charm. Socially awkward geeks are nothing new for TV, but she and show creator Liz Meriwether have shaped Jess into something we haven't quite seen before — a woman who is sweet yet crass, innocent yet sexy, beautiful yet clumsy, and brash yet irresistibly adorable," he adds.