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Remote Life: “˜New Girl,’ new game

By Samantha Suchland

April 17, 2012 11:43 p.m.

There’s a drinking game people are chomping at the bit to play, and it’s not even a real thing.

In last week’s episode of Fox’s “New Girl,” Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and her roommates introduced the world to the game True American. Described by the characters as 50 percent drinking, 50 percent Candy Land, it looks more like 10 percent American History class, 10 percent Settlers of Catan, 60 percent drinking and 100 percent chaos.

That’s right, True American defies math.

It’s the most confusing game I’ve ever watched aside from curling. Scratch that ““ it’s more confusing than curling. It involves a castle made of beer and whiskey, a floor that can’t be touched because it’s considered lava and the chant “1, 2, 3, 4, JFK” followed by a chorus of “FDR.”

It also appears to be highly dangerous as the movement through the room requires traipsing across tables, chairs and overturned buckets.

The show’s cast and crew alluded to the made-up game in an interview a couple months ago, but they admitted to not understanding the rules even after they shot the episode. It seems to have been invented for the sake of the show’s plot and only enough of the rules are alluded to make it seem both legitimate and ridiculous.

Not that this stopped an ambitious bunch of Internet users who have gone on to flesh out the rules of True American through Tumblr. Even these rules only make a microcosm of sense and seem to require more dexterity and U.S. history knowledge than any pub trivia night. Alternate versions involving Harry Potter and Englishmen have cropped up as well.

And this is what makes True American really cool. It seems to have taken on a life of its own outside of the show “New Girl.”

It’s certainly not the first time an audience has watched a show and decided to adopt what they see. But normally audiences are more likely to take on a way of dressing or a turn of phrase.

One example is “The Office” mainstreaming the phrase “That’s what she said” or “How I Met Your Mother” normalizing the act of saluting any time anyone says “general” knowledge or “major” pain. And there’s always the classic Pee-wee Herman phrase, “If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” that you may have heard on the elementary school playground.

There’s the fine line between adopting something from a television show and just quoting and copying for the sake of a pop culture reference.

True American seems like something that could exist outside of “New Girl” if anyone can actually figure out a way to play that doesn’t result in headaches and twisted ankles.

Who knows, maybe it will become the next great college party game. Or maybe it’s just something we’ll go on to reference in a situation that we can’t make heads or tails of.

Do you understand how to play True American? Email Suchland at [email protected]. “Remote Life” runs every Wednesday.

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Samantha Suchland
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