The Zooey Deschanel sitcom New Girl is being shunted onto digital channel E4 for the remainder of its run. After launching with hefty hype on Channel 4 with a prime-time Friday night slot and Deschanel’s winsome features plastered all over the nation’s buses and poster sites, it seems viewer numbers have fallen away disconcertingly.
The channel is doing its best to put a brave face on the flop. "We’re constantly looking at what’s best for our content across the portfolio of channels," a spokesperson told Broadcast, "and while we were very happy with New Girl's performance on C4, we saw that the profile of New Girl was skewing significantly younger than the C4 slot average and was more in line with the E4 target demographic."
In short, grown-ups were switching it off in droves, but adolescents who like bright colours, indie music and Deschanel’s character Jess’s gawky mannerisms were staying loyal. "E4 is the ideal UK home for Jess and the guys and we're very excited to see them move there in June," Channel 4’s corporate mouthpiece added.
New Girl has something of a Marmite reputation, with viewers divided between those who have fallen in love with Deschanel’s kooky cuteness, and those who reach for the sick-bag after a surfeit of her infantile persona.
There was a similar reaction in the USA. Deschanel has a faithful following of fanboys who have followed her career in low-budget cinema releases and the indie band She And Him. New Girl was supposed to bring her into the mainstream, although that has not quite happened yet.