Illustration by Melchisedech Quagrainie for an article on New Girl

5 Reasons Why Jessica Day of ‘New Girl’ Is a Model Human Being

The character may have her critics, but her quirky personality, dedication and generosity make her a positive role model for all.
October 10, 2020
7 mins read

Jessica Day, played by Zooey Deschanel in the hit sitcom “New Girl,” has been a bit of a controversial character. Some folks love her cutesy bangs, brightly colored apparel and inexplicable love of baby farm animals, labeling her “simply adorkable.” Many people, however, see Jess as “kooky” and overly emotional, and claim that she is a negative female role model. When the show was just beginning, many people questioned Deschanel’s ability to carry “New Girl,” especially with such a one-dimensional character.

What these cynics fail to realize is that Jess is bursting with admirable personality traits. She may have her eccentricities, but at her core, she is a wonderful human being and a positive role model for everyone everywhere. Here are five reasons why everyone should try to be a little bit more like Jessica Day.

1. Her Distinctive Personality

“Be yourself.” Everyone’s heard this clichéd advice a thousand times, but unfortunately, being yourself is no cakewalk. It’s easy to get caught up in the opinions of the people around you because of humanity’s deep-seated need for acceptance. However, trying to fit into a certain mold can put a damper on important parts of your personality.

Jess is not afraid to let her true personality shine; she is unapologetically herself. Even though she knows that people may judge her for the way that she dresses or acts, she doesn’t let that stop her from embracing her identity.

In “Wedding,” the third episode of the very first season, Jess’ roommates tell her to “suppress the Jess” in order to make a certain impression on Nick’s ex-girlfriend, Caroline. Although she originally tries to help out her friends, she quickly realizes that pretending to be someone else simply won’t cut it. By the end of the episode, she is out on the dance floor, doing the “Chicken Dance” like she was born to, along with Nick, Schmidt and Winston. She is able to be herself without fear of judgment, and even convinces the rest of her squad to join her.

2. Her Dedication to Education

Throughout “New Girl,” Jess holds a variety of education-related jobs: a schoolteacher, a vice principal, an adult creative writing instructor and a private school principal to name a few. Her commitment to education never falters.

Her passion for teaching is established early on in the show’s seventh episode, “Bells,” in which she decides to create a handbell ensemble for kids who otherwise would’ve been in detention. She says to Winston, “Sometimes it gives me blinding, optical migraines where I literally can’t see three feet in front of myself, but I love these kids.” Jess is willing to sacrifice a lot in order to give students opportunities, which is an immensely admirable quality.

She will bow down to no one when it comes to teaching. In the episode “Menus,” Principal Foster tells Jess that she can’t take her students on a beach field trip because of transportation costs, but she doesn’t let that stop her. She finds a way to get a van from the local Chinese restaurant and takes the kids anyway. In “James Wonder,” when Jess is vying for the position of principal, she says to the controlling parents, “I’m not going to be a principal for the parents. I’m going to be a principal for the kids!” Her lack of complacency in the realm of teaching can be a lesson to the world — nothing should get in the way of passing on knowledge to the next generation.

3. Her Dedication to Doing the Right Thing

Education isn’t the only thing Jess cares about; she is also passionate about countless other important issues. Even if it’s inconvenient, she refuses to compromise her beliefs in any situation.

In the episode “Jury Duty,” Jess is not only willing, but excited to serve her role as a juror, emphasizing that jury duty is “not just a right; it’s also a privilege.” She is even willing to give up the dream opportunity of serving as acting principal at her school to remain on the jury and fulfill her civic duty. In Jess’s mind, the American legal system and the public good supersede her personal aspirations.

She is also politically active; in the episode “Hubbedy Bubby,” she and Cece go canvassing in order to sign up new voters and increase voter participation in the 2016 presidential election. With the 2020 election just around the corner, showing this type of dedication is more important than ever. It certainly wouldn’t hurt the American population if people, specifically the 40% of the U.S. who didn’t vote in 2016, could make a more Jess-like effort toward engaging in politics.

4. Her Constant Self-Improvement Efforts

Jess is a model human being to begin with, but that doesn’t stop her from taking every opportunity to improve herself even more. Even during her brief bout of unemployment in Season 2 of “New Girl,” she finds ways to productively spend her time and increase her skill set by cooking frittatas and experimenting with felt art. With most of the U.S. population trapped in quarantine, and probably glued to Netflix, now is a great time to focus on self-improvement.

5. Her Ability to Empathize

Jess is always able to see other people’s perspectives. In “The Landlord,” a man threatens Nick and Jess with a gun when they attempt to take his parking spot. But, through her belief in the inherent goodness of people, she is able to reason kindly with the man and get him to back off, securing the parking space.

In America’s current political climate, it seems as though people are divided on every issue. No one is willing to compromise, or look at things from anyone else’s point of view. If Americans want to see positive change any time soon, they’d benefit by adopting Jess’ attitude.

Ultimately, critics can say what they want to about her eccentricities, but they can’t dispute her virtuous traits. “New Girl” wouldn’t be the same without her integrity, generosity and spunk. So, if you want to make the world a better place, try channeling your inner Jessica Day!

Callie Rosenzweig, University of Chicago

Writer Profile

Callie Rosenzweig

University of Chicago

I’m Callie, a prospective psychology major originally from Palo Alto, CA. In my spare time I enjoy singing, watching sitcoms, hanging out with my stuffed animals and writing in my journal (aka my best friend).

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