Perhaps one of the problems I have with the show is the use of physical attributes to pen off certain individuals. For the record, these are her roommates on the show.
Meanwhile, this is Robby, a boyfriend of the character Cece, who comes across as truly different from the rest of the cast.
It's almost a meta statement. So genuinely unappealing is Robby that the producers of the show couldn't use him. The prettier people deserved more camera time. Robby's generally good nature wasn't intriguing enough. He wasn't a social boor. It also reminds me of how Lamorne Morris is underplayed on the show. Of the three roommates, he's probably the most genuinely 'nice' individual. He's not bitter like Nick and not a jerk like Schmidt. He's more often soft spoken, and the ways in which he is awkward, although buffoonish like everything else in the show, are truly offputting. Who else strips their clothes off when panicking? Both have the commonality of being nice guys though, who have trouble with women.
In no element of New Girl's universe does Zooey, Nick or Schmidt have trouble with the opposite sex. It's verbally played that Zooey does, but she lands a successful doctor shortly into season two, has Nick secretly desiring her and even at her worst, when the writers are portraying her with clownish behavior, is dressed so enticingly the visual never matches the portrayal we're supposed to receive.
I guess I keep comparing her against what comes across as a truly awkward character, Liz Lemon.
I just find it easier to identify with people like Robby and Liz. They don't look like the model people, not that there's anything wrong with looking like that, but I think the struggle with self appearance, weight, and conformity to a norm all play a role in why people find themselves awkward in social situations. In reality, Tina Fey has a scar over her eye that has dictated how she wears her hair and faces the camera. That's awkward. I remember quite well what it was to be the guy wearing a jacket in ninety degree weather because I wanted to cover up my weight. I remember wearing glasses and having a bad haircut, and thinking I had to overcompensate. It didn't come across as endearing, and had an ongoing effect on what people thought of me, only increasing my social anxiety and awkwardness. I didn't find inadvertent success in romance because of it. I ended up more like Robby and Liz, with relationships that went sour, that I had to battle through and that left ongoing impressions on me that affected future relationships.
At the beginning of The New Girl's first episode, Zooey finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her. The two girls basically stare each other down at near nude levels. Zooey was just as easily as pretty and styled as the other girl. There's no contrast. And none of Zooey's behaviors in the show genuinely mark her as being truly awkward. Being socially awkward isn't a matter of acting buffonish. It's a feeling of being located at the social periphery and having little to no chance of finding one's way to the interior. Zooey's character never seems to genuinely feel that. I think Liz, though, can better understand.