How to Play True American

1…2…3…JFK FDR!

New Girl fans know this means someone is about to embark on a quest to play the bewildering, intricate game that is True American. The characters play it on the show multiple times but never divulge the rules and even the most avid watcher would have a tough time deciphering what they are. There are a multitude of guides online but their misguided attempts always end in disjointed drunkenness (in a bad way). Lucky for you I’ve found the definitive guide so read on if you want your game of True American to end in disjointed drunkenness (in a good way).

What You Need

-1 table

-4 beers per player

-1 bottle of liquor

-1 Funky playlist with a disproportionate amount of the Black Eyed Peas

-Furniture you can stand on


Arrange your furniture in a circle with at least ten spaces (each cushion counts as one). Place the table with everyone’s drinks on it in the center of the circle. Once the game begins the floor turns into lava and contestants are no longer able to step there without incurring a penalty of one shot.

How to Start

Every game of True American begins with the national anthem. Players stand at attention and the first person to laugh or talk must take one shot. After everyone has paid their respects to this great country, players gather in a circle for shot tip off. During shot tip off each person places one finger gun at their side, raising it on the count of three and aiming at whoever they want to drink. The person with the most guns pointed towards them takes a shot. Repeat 5 times (or as many as needed depending on your tolerance).

How to Play

After shot tip off each player grabs one drink and jumps to a space. The floor has officially turned to lava and it is mandatory to be holding a drink at all times for the remainder of the game. On their turn, player’s rotate asking questions to the group and the first person to answer correctly moves forward a spot. Here are the three types of questions:

1. You may ask a trivia question in any of the following categories; Disney, Lord of the Rings, New Girl, or American History. The first player to answer correctly moves forward.

2. Start a famous quote (historical or pop culture) or sing a few song lyrics. The first person to correctly finish the lines moves forward.

3. If you can’t think of anything else just shout 1…2…3 JFK FDR! Players place a number between 1 & 5 on their forehead and if no one else has your number you move forward.

When it’s their turn each player acts as judge and the final call on who answered first is up to them. In the event of a tie those contestants must play rock, paper, scissors shot to decide the winner. They are momentarily allowed to step in the lava in order to follow procedure. The two participants stand back to back, take five paces, and then play. The winner moves forward a spot, the loser takes a shot. Either player in the tie may relinquish the spot to the other if they are unwilling or unable to play rock, paper, scissors, shot.

How to Win

Once a player drinks all four beers and completes the entire circle, landing on their original spot, they must take one final shot to win. Pace yourself. Remember that you must finish all four beers BEFORE arriving at your original spot. If a player reaches their original spot without having finished their drinks they must take a shot and move backwards two spaces.

Bathroom Rules

If a contestant needs to use the restroom during the game they may step in the lava to do so but only after answering a riddle decided upon by the rest of the group. Conversely players may also take off either their shirt or pants for the remainder of the game.


As you can probably tell True American includes a fair amount of drinking. Tailor the rules to your tolerance so you don’t end up with broken, vomit covered furniture. Every so often one player will encounter a stretch of bad luck and have to take more shots than they can handle. If this is the case any contestant can “volunteer as tribute” and take the shot instead. Placing three fingers to your lips and humming the mockingjay tune is encouraged but not required.


One of the most important aspects of True American is that it is a democracy. Any rule can be added, changed, or thrown out if a majority of the group wishes. If you would like to change a rule simply wait until your turn then make a motion to do so. This allows you to personalize each game for your audience. It’s also where some of the zanier rules you see in the show are created.


I did not create this guide. Like so many immigrants before me, I was lost and alone in my quest for the rules to True American. The founding fathers Michael Melugin, Sam Waldorf, and Andy Mikkola took me in with open arms and introduced me to their version of the game. As you’ve probably noticed there are elements from the show that are missing. This is on purpose. I’ve provided the structure that will get you started (and drunk) but it’s up to you to personalize your game. Remember the democratic process and implement new, crazy rules that are unique to your audience. Have fun and play responsibly 😉


By Joshua Harper