Will ‘New Girl’ Zooey Deschanel be this year’s ‘It’ girl at Golden Globes?

What do Jennifer Garner (“Alias”), Keri Russell (“Felicity”), Claire Danes (“My So-Called Life”) and America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”) all have in common — they were all hip, young actresses when they scored victory at the Golden Globes during their inaugural television seasons.

This season, the fresh face on the block is Zooey Deschanel from the top-rated Fox comedy “New Girl.” While Deschanel is no stranger to television (having starred in the 2007 miniseries “Tin Man”) this is her first regular TV gig. And if she’s successful at the Golden Globes, it would be her first major awards recognition.

On “New Girl,” Deschanel plays Jess, the nerdy school teacher who breaks up with her boyfriend and moves in with three guys. The show is the perfect comedic mix of laugh-out-loud moments and squirm-inducing awkwardness. Matt Roush (TV Guide) praised Deschenal’s performance, writing that she’s “a giddy bundle of zany vulnerability” and “ridiculously adorable — or is that adorably ridiculous?” Over at Metacritic, the series is attracting a favorable rating of 66.

While some of the Globes races are fairly competetive, this year the category of Best Comedy Actress is wide open. Last year’s winner Laura Linney (“The Big C”) is anything but a sure bet to win again. Her series went even more dramatic in its second season, and the buzz from its first year has dissipated. The same goes for fellow Showtime leading ladies Toni Collette (“United States of Tara”) who prevailed in 2009, and Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”) who has yet to win for this role. Tina Fey (“30 Rock”) and Lea Michele (“Glee”) rounded out the race last year and both could return this time around.

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However, if this year’s Emmys taught us anything, it’s that the reign of the leading ladies of Showtime dramedies has finally ended. Melissa McCarthy (“Mike & Molly”) shocked the crowd when her name was called, claiming Emmy victory for her classic three-camera comedy. If all three Showtime stars — Linney, Collette, Falco — get snubbed by the Golden Globes, that would be great news for network shows. Based on buzz and industry support, Deschenal should be a shoo-in to receive her first nomination. And McCarthy and Emmy darling Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation”) could also reap their first recognition from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.

Below, watch Deschenel chew the scenery on the set of the catchy “New Girl” theme song.

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