TV Time: New Girl 3.02

Title Nerd

Two-Sentence Summary After seeing Jess struggling to make friends among the teachers at her new school, Nick gives her some well-meaning but misguided advice about how to act cool. Meanwhile, Schmidt faces a problem when both Cece and Elizabeth show up at his office party, and Winston dreams of taking his frustrations with his relationship with Daisy out on her cat.

Favorite Line “I would have noticed you.” (Nick)

Episode M.V.P. “Nerd”was a great showcase for the men of New Girl. While Zooey Deschanel had plenty of comedy to work with (my personal favorite being her rendition of “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes while standing in a toilet), I didn’t really care for most of Jess’s storyline. I love Jess because she seems proud of who she is even when the rest of the world doesn’t seem to understand her quirks, and that confidence was completely missing from her character in this episode. Her characterization felt uneven, which I guess was kind of the point—but that doesn’t mean it appealed to my tastes (I hate “secondhand embarrassment” kind of comedy).

One of my problems with Jess’s characterization in this episode was that the comedy in her storyline was too broad and too cliché. We’ve seen it all before. The same could be said of Schmidt’s storyline—how many times have we seen the “two girlfriends, one room” situation in a sitcom? (Answer: Too many) However, Max Greenfield was able to inject a really surprising amount of genuine emotion into his reaction to the situation. The tears in his eyes at the end of the party made me actually believe that he doesn’t want to hurt either woman; he’s just going about this in a completely wrong way.

Lamorne Morris was once again a standout performer in this episode, making the craziest side plot work with his fantastic delivery. Who knew contemplating killing a cat could be so funny? My favorite moment was his ridiculous idea to let the cat decide how it wanted to die.

The real M.V.P. of this episode, though, was Nick Miller and, by extension, Jake Johnson. Nick went through a lot in this episode, and Johnson once again balanced so many facets of this character with ease. His desire to help Jess was incredibly endearing, even if it manifested itself in a disastrous way. Schmidt wasn’t wrong; Nick’s advice was awful, but it came from a genuine place of concern and care. That’s what I love about New Girl—all of these characters are messes, but their hearts are in the right place. And as soon as Schmidt opened Nick’s eyes to the fact that his advice was making Jess more like him—and not in a positive sense—Nick suddenly sprang into action in such a fantastic way. I loved seeing him try to deal with both Jess and Winston’s crises because flustered Nick is one of my favorite flavors of Nick Miller, but also because it showed how much this man has grown, letting more than a little responsible, “Chicago” Nick into the loft.

Nick had Jess’s back throughout the episode, but it was a joy to watch him learn what that really meant and how best to help her. In the beginning, it was helping her loosen up with some really bad decisions. Then, it was trying to dissuade her from trespassing but ultimately jumping over that fence with her. Finally, it was telling her the only thing he needed to say from the start: He would have noticed her back when she was just a nerdy high school girl. (Anybody else swoon at that line?) And then he proved that he notices this wonderfully nerdy girl now with the kind of kiss we’ve come to love from Nick Miller, where he sinks into her body in the way that’s been making us all melt since “Cooler” aired last season. Well played, Nick Miller. You may still be more than a bit of a screw-up, but you sure know how to treat a lady—especially your old lady.

Favorite Moment Yes, Nick kissing Jess in the parking lot was an epic moment, one of those “nerdy girl gets the guy” moments designed to make all of us nerdy girls watching at home tear up at the idea that someday some guy is going to notice us for exactly who we are. However, the most epic moment of the episode was a little sing-along featuring a Space Jam classic:

This scene is everything I adore about this show. It’s ridiculous, but it’s all about the things friends do for one another. It’s filled with a sense of shared history between these friends, a feeling that this is far from the first (or second) time they’ve sang this song to cure a hangover. It’s a quirky little nod to the nostalgic pop culture references my generation clings to. And it’s the most entertainingly strange show of friendship I’ve seen in a long time.

A New Girl GIF* For My New Girl Feelings

new girl chicken dance

“Nerd” wasn’t my favorite New Girl episode, but it was still a fun reminder that this group of friends will always try to support each other when push comes to shove. They want each other to be happy, and, although sometimes their methods for finding happiness and inclusion might be strange, they have each other’s backs. From chicken dances and fake wedding dates to “I Believe I Can Fly” and very real kisses, this group has come so far but that sense of family that’s been there from the beginning is one thing that will never change on this show.

*I have no talent for GIF-making. Thankfully, I am highly skilled at searching Tumblr for the best GIFs. I take no credit for this beauty.

 

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5 thoughts on “TV Time: New Girl 3.02

  1. Katie!! I actually loved this episode (I’m noticing a trend where I just love whatever Kay Cannon writes. We must have a similar sense of humor), even though I agree that this wasn’t the funniest story Jess has ever been handed. Every time they went back to her plot, I think a part of my brain was like “oh, right, this is still happening!” Still, I will allow any plot that lets the guys gather around Jess for an R. Kelly serenade. Classic. Vintage New Girl. Zooey’s face in that scene is PERFECT.

    As far as Jess’s lack of confidence is concerned, I think it makes total sense, because new social situations bring out the insecurity in almost all of us, and schools always seem to magnify that. Particularly for someone like Jess, who wasn’t as popular in high school, it’s natural that she’d look at herself now, see how she’s grown, and want to know that others see it too. It’s a kind of high school do-over. I love that she knows who she is and doesn’t apologize for it, but I don’t think she’d be human if she didn’t still struggle with things like wanting to be accepted.

    Also, I read this amazing AV Club write-up on this episode: http://www.avclub.com/articles/jacooz,102942/. The reviewer basically suggests that this whole episode is about these people playing at being something they’re not, and I think it makes a great point.

    Schmidt’s storyline is one I’m still sort of torn on, though. I love that he clearly can’t stand hurting either woman, but he just IS, and it’s such a cliche (even though I liked the twist that he actually got away with it. Most sitcom characters end up getting caught, but Schmidt really is that good). I like Elizabeth a lot. I loved her last season, and obviously Merritt Wever is everything, so it bugs me that such a cool character is being relegated to “one of Schmidt’s women.” I think it’s inevitable that he’ll choose Cece, because Merritt isn’t actually a regular (sighhhhh), but at least we could give her something better to go out on.

    Winston’s cat subplot was by FAR the highlight for me. I was in tears. You’re right–who knew contemplating cat murder could be so funny? Everything about this was gold. Ferguson’s chubby lil face and wide eyes, the fact that his name is FERGUSON, the little noose, and pretty much all of the dialogue. (“An eye for an eye, a cat for a cat.” “What’s the other cat?” “My heart.”) LOVE. Lamorne Morris is rocking it.

    • I really like what you had to say about Jess’s confidence and the way we all feel in new situations. I just think the storyline was one of those few moments on New Girl (which happened way more in Season One than last season) where something that could have been funny and interesting got a little too out of hand for my personal taste. There’s a fine line between funny and truthful and just plain over the top, and I know that line is different for everyone. I just really hate situations that make me feel uncomfortably embarrassed by a character’s bad decisions, so both Jess’s story and Schmidt’s story had me squirming a lot this week.

      I did read that AV Club review on Wednesday morning, and I liked that theory about all of them pretending to be what they’re not except for Nick who is actually becoming someone better. Reading it actually made me look at Nick’s role in the episode in such a different way, and it made me love that character even more.

      And YES to everything you said about Winston and Ferguson. The name alone still makes me laugh.

      • Oh gosh yeah, I had big time secondhand embarrassment for Schmidt. So uncomfortable!! I get that way really easily, so I’m not sure why Jess’s storyline didn’t really have the same effect (outside of the awkward teachers’ lounge/ bar scenes. Those did make me squirm.)

        Ferguson needs to stay forever. I will no longer be satisfied with a Ferguson-less loft. Ferguson for the win.

    • I love that quote too because it’s such a great fit for their relationship. It reminded me of Jess telling Nick in last season’s “Chicago” that she was always going to have his back—no matter how stupid things get. I thought that was a really nice callback to one of my favorite New Girl episodes. 🙂

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