The most exciting and most stressful part of any fall premiere season is sifting through all the brand-new pilots, so it helps to get started early if you can. Like right now, even. Fox has just released the pilot for one of its most highly anticipated new shows, New Girl, on iTunes, two whole weeks early. The episode will also hit Hulu and Fox.com well in advance of its official September 20 premiere date.

The half-hour comedy revolves around Jess (Zooey Deschanel at her Zooey Deschanel-iest), who finds herself moving in with three guys in the aftermath of a bad breakup. Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield (Officer Leo from Veronica Mars!), and Damon Wayans, Jr. star in the pilot as her new roommates. (Lamorne Morris will replace Wayans in subsequent episodes; Wayans left New Girl after his adorable but underwatched Happy Endings was unexpectedly picked up for a second season.) Hannah Simone rounds out the cast as Jess’ best friend, who’s street smart and cynical where Jess is naive and endlessly positive. More details after the jump.

The pilot is currently available for free on iTunes, and will become available for streaming on Hulu and Fox.com September 13 through September 19. TV Overmind reports that the show will also be released before the air date on Hello Giggles, a blog co-founded by Deschanel, but it is not clear when it’ll hit that site. A few lucky folks have already had the chance to watch the pilot even earlier — the first episode began airing in certain hotels and special screenings late last month.

It’s an unconventional plan for rolling out a new series, but the hope is that by putting it on iTunes, New Girl will pick up some of the tech-savvy audience for its Tuesday night lead-in Glee. The move also gives New Girl a chance to win some early attention before it has to face off against other new 20something-female-centric comedies like CBS’ 2 Broke Girls and NBC’s Whitney. The strategy could backfire if viewers who would’ve otherwise tuned in opt to just watch the show early instead, but Fox marketing president Joe Earley expressed seemed confident that the added buzz would actually lead to increased viewership. “Hopefully, with that echo effect, we can bring in more viewers to the premiere than the number we’ve potentially lost for the first week,” he said.

If you’re still weighing your options, here’s a quick promo to give you an idea of what to expect:

Discuss: Will you be checking out New Girl? If you’ve already seen the pilot, what did you think?

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