GOOD

What New Girl Says About the New Recession-Era Man

The feminized dudes of New Girl fit perfectly into the economic zeitgeist.

“Sex with a new person is like starting a new job with a really weird interview,” Jess says, lying in bed with a new BF after a failed attempt. “Tomorrow,” she assures him, “your v-bomb on my p-bomb.” The couple looks fearfully at the ceiling, realizing Jess’ slip, a moment of gender confusion central to the sexual politics on the show. Fox’s New Girl suggests it’s not only women of the 21st century who are changing, but straight men, too: in a recession-era America, they’re learning to be, or have already become, more like women.


Despite the title, three out of four main characters in New Girl are men. Nick is white and a law school dropout-turned-bartender, Schmidt is a Jewish executive in a managerial firm (manned otherwise exclusively by women), and Winston is black and unemployed after giving up basketball (yup). These jobs, or lack thereof, are perfect reflections of the new, post-industrial, post-1970s economy: the growth of service and managerial fields, the rise of women in executive positions, and, recently, rampant unemployment. They also reflect new types of labor—types with a gendered bent.

Workers in the new economy use their personalities and communication skills rather than their hands. They build relationships rather than things. They rely on networking and "teambuilding." They serve tech support or sandwiches with a smile, not to "customers" but to "guests." They're performers, paid not just to stock shelves but to nurture shoppers, not just to sell houses but to sell themselves. Even though workers of all genders are now told to wield these skills, we still associate this kind of work with women; social and emotional labor require the same expertise that caring for elders, heading up a household, and mothering does. The men of New Girl (and men in general) are encountering a new, feminized working world.

Winston bombs a job interview with a potential employer, failing to respond to her rapid-fire question, “Did you see the JWoww retweet of the Gaga twitpic?” Later, he complains to Schmidt that the interview was about “chit chat.” “The chit-chat is the interview,” Schmidt quips: Working requires both forming relationships and citing a female-driven cultural field. Winston finally gets a job as a babysitter for a child who refers to him as “Lebron”—a job, of course, that’s held mostly by women and hired mostly by whites.

The unwitting butt of puns on his name ("Schmidt-stain!"), Schmidt has a personal jar in the house labeled “douchebag,” where he pays fines to his roommates for his “body gelato,” frat boy lingo, “bro”ing men, and treating women like sex objects. Schmidt is feminized not only by his competent female coworkers but by his own coiffed, designer-labeled, G.Q. virility—his product-lust that, up until recently, was reserved for women.

Jess, the new girl herself, finds a professional match with teaching. But she too deals with the discomfort of emotional work, perfecting awkward in the work of maintaining her personal life. Jess’ geeked-out Lord of the Rings references and skirt-tucked-into-underwear social incompetence show us that work and play are becoming more and more similar, with the consequence that both get zany and just plain weird.

Even though New Girl’s male characters are getting in touch with their feminine sides, there isn’t anything particularly feminist about it. Often Jess' quirks are no more than Zooey Deschanel being her desirable dream girl self, and the jokes no more than buffoonery. When Jess says to her soon-to-be three male roommates, after seeing their ad on Craigslist, “I thought you were women,” Schmidt gets so anxious that he removes his shirt and has to put a dollar in the douchebag jar for doing so. There isn’t anything revolutionary about an episode ending with grown men singing, dancing, or curling up to watch Dirty Dancing, but the show is a wonderful example of TV taking a good look at mancession-era labor trends.

Indeed, New Girl isn’t the only TV comedy dealing with these changes. Consider CBS’s 2 Broke Girls. Sure, it has a barely bearable laugh track, a portrayal of Asian Americans that hasn’t evolved beyond Mr. Yunioshi of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and constant jokes eschewing any romantic tension between the two female protagonists. But it also sets up an odd couple who fit right into the economic zeitgeist: a recently-ruined Upper East Side heiress and an unglamorous Brooklynite pulled from the pages of Nickel and Dimed, who work together at a diner but also toward opening a cupcake enterprise.

The Showtime drama Shameless also features a woman at work, a Chicagoan supporting her four younger siblings to fill the void left by her alcoholic-thus-incapable father. Unfortunately, the show makes economic insecurity look less like a reality challenging the gender divide in families across the country, and more like a ploy to gain pity for this individual family, who we’re also supposed to view as degenerate hustlers. The show’s boys-will-be-boys and girls-just-want-to-have-fun ethos is as gender-bending as Taming of the Shrew.

As the New Girl proves, you don’t need an all-female cast to talk openly and smartly about gender and the economy. In Parks and Recreation, the political aspirations of Leslie Knope recently led her to employ her own boyfriend; Ron Swanson portrays a “real man” as a lover of inexpensive beef and gender equality alike; and Tom Haverford brings nuance to Schmidt’s parody of G.Q.ification. In Up All Night, Chris negotiates his transformation from lawyer into stay-at-home dad, so his wife Reagan can continue her higher-paying career managing a female-fronted talk show—leaving viewers to notice parallels between caring for a baby and a day-time star.

In the first episode of New Girl, Jess tries to convince Nick to open up. He doesn’t love the idea: “I could pretend to be more like you, Jess, and live on a sparkly rainbow and drive a unicorn around.” Why wouldn’t you, Jess asks. “Because I have a penis.” Of course, Nick learns by the end of this episode that a penis shouldn’t stop you from talking about your feelings. In fact, riding a unicorn may not be so far-fetched, given the popularity of My Little Pony among teen and 20-something dudes. Either way, New Girl and much of 2012 television promises to explore the hilarious collusion of gender and economics—hilarious, because it’s true.

Articles

Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health