Ms. Day Would Flunk You For This

Uh oh, someone is coming at Jessica Day and Co. No one messes with the loft! A lawsuit has been filed in California against the creators of New Girl for alleged plagiarism. Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold are two screenwriters who wrote a script in 2006 for a show called Square One, which supposedly is the same story as New Girl.

When Gold and Counts pitched the show in 2006, the summary of the series was based on “Stephanie’s real-life experience when she discovered her husband was having an affair, leading her to move into a three-man bachelor pad.” Hmmm okay, familiar, but not exactly plagiarized. However, things do get a bit fishy as Gold and Counts were at the time with WME talent agency, who also represented New Girl showrunner Elizabeth Meriweather. However, Meriweather and the New Girl script came about in 2011.

Now, we won’t really know if any of these accusations are in fact true until the lawsuit is settled in or out of court. The fact of the matter, though, is it’s Hollywood. Wholly new ideas aren’t exactly the way of the beast. And in regards to prime-time scripted sitcoms, certain tried and true formulas just work. If there were lawsuits for every series whose premise sounded exactly like another series, well, we wouldn’t have much to watch on television, quite frankly.

Before we go jumping to any conclusions about Fox, New Girl, Meriweather, and WME, let’s take a look at the claims and see just how vague/open-ended/open-to-interpretation many of these are. As you may see, a lot of the claims could play against plenty of other popular shows that aren’t New Girl.

Claim No. 1 “both protagonists are awkward, quirky women around the age of 30."

Other Shows that also fit this description:

30 Rock

The Mindy Project

Big Bang Theory

Super Fun Night

Claim No. 2: "The plot of both works revolves around the protagonist moving in with three guys." So more or less, a show were unlikely pairings of friends end up living/spending all of their time together.

Other Shows that also fit this description:


Gilmore Girls (Remember when Lane moved in with the guys?)

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Jessica Day...Sweet DEE...OH MAH GAHHH)

Undeclared (There was never a more awkward roomate than those in your frosh dorm)

Claim No. 3: "The three new guy roommates in each work have identical personality traits." So there’s the player/ man candy, the grump/old-fashioned guy, and the affectionate/ helpless romantic nerd. Schmidt, Nick, and Winston.

Friends: Joey, Chandler and Ross

Happy Endings: Dave, Max, and Brad

Parks and Recreation: Chris, Ron, and Ben

The Mindy Project: Dr. Reed, Danny, and Morgan

How I Met Your Mother: Barney, Ted, Marshall

Claim No. 4: “The best friend in each work is named ‘CeCe’” or has the initials ‘C.C.'

All of the characters in GIRLS have first and last names that start with the same letter: Hannah Horvath, Marnie Michaels, Jessa Johansson, and Shoshanna Shapiro,.

Claim No. 5: the protagonists are both sexually inexperienced

30 Rock: Liz Lemon

Gilmore Girls: Rory Gilmore

Big Bang Theory: Amy Fowler

So, as we can all see, a formula for successful sitcoms, even our favorite, least Two And a Half Men-like out there, do indeed exist. Whether or not an actual pilot script was plagiarized, well, that’s still to be determined. If it was then, MAN am I and a million other fans going to be really disappointed.

And hey, if all else fails for Counts and Gold they could write a modern-day telling of how their idea was then refined, repackaged, and sold by an individual genius that then became widely popular with the college gener... oh wait, that was The Social Network. Whoops.

Images: heycookies /settleforbutterflies / thatbrickinthewall / marietteclare / tvshowsaholic/ little-nicky-miller / Tumblr