New Girl or New Woman?

New Girl is a sitcom that aired in 2011 that follows the adventures of Jessica Day, an elementary school teacher. The title of the show states the gender of the main character, but leaves her age ambiguous. The term girl can mean many different ages, however Jacqueline Reid-Walsh’s essay “Girlhood,” defines being a girl as a female the age 18 or younger. Jess is in her early thirties, and yet she is still considered a girl. If Jess is still considered a “girl,” is she still in girlhood”? If so, at what point does she become a woman and enter womanhood? Jess is single, so does womanhood have something to do with marital status? And if that is the case, then are females who never get married always considered girls? By including the term “girl” in the title, the producers of the show put these questions in the minds of the audience. Whether Jess is considered a girl or a woman, she is a strong character who provides comic relief to America every Wednesday night.

3 thoughts on “New Girl or New Woman?”

  1. I think you brought up a very interesting point when discussing girlhood in regards to relationship status. This could also be linked to gender and how potentially being linked to a man is what brings a girl into womanhood.

  2. I just started watching this show on Netflix, and I, too, noticed how many of the themes from lecture and the reading are presented. How Jess dresses and acts makes her seem like she’s never left her girlhood, especially since she’s a kindergarten teacher, but on the other hand, she lives in an apartment with three men. Her best friend is also a model whose parents are arranging a marriage for her. There are so many examples in this show that really push the definition of girlhood.

  3. I love this show! I’ve always thought the title was an interesting choice considering the story, however I infer that “New Girl” sounds like a better title than “New Woman.” Perhaps the effect of choosing “New Girl” as the title attracts a younger and older crowd, whereas “New Woman” may perhaps only attract an older crowd of people. I also think it is interesting how she is shown living with 4 other guys. I think this is an interesting position that the show choose to portray Jess in. In many of the other texts we’ve read focusing on girls, they have been closely pictured with other girls such as Kirsten and Little Woman. I think this show does a lot to create a level of complexity to the idea of girlhood.

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