Two-Sentence Summary Jess channels all of her frustrations about her breakup with Nick into making the dance at the school where she teaches the best it can be, which naturally means it turns into a complete disaster. Not helping matters is the fact that Schmidt, Nick, and Winston turn out to be the three worst chaperones ever.
Favorite Line “Nobody’s getting pregnant tonight! That’s the same thing I say on my dates.” (Winston)
My Thoughts This was actually the most fun I’ve had watching New Girl since the episodes prior to Nick and Jess breaking up. I laughed a lot, I loved the way the whole ensemble was in the same place, and I enjoyed seeing the characters in a different setting than usual. “Dance” may not have done a lot to further any of the season’s overall arcs, but I still enjoyed it—despite still having some reservations with certain aspects of the show.
Since I’m in a bit of a time crunch today, I’m going to break my thoughts on this episode into a little list of Five Things I Took Away from “Dance.”
1.) This was Cece’s best episode. I crave Jess and Cece scenes like I crave good chocolate. I know New Girl is primarily about the relationships between Jess and the men she lives with, but her friendship with Cece has always been something that humanizes and grounds Jess as a character more than any other relationship on the show, even the one she shared with Nick. Zooey Deschanel and Hannah Simone have such a genuine, warm chemistry, and I always feel like there’s a deep sense of shared history between them that drives all of their interactions. It was so nice to see Cece at her warmest and most supportive in this episode because Jess needed her more than ever. Simone played Cece’s gentle but constant support perfectly because it felt real. And Jess and Cece’s botched “good cop/bad cop” moment was one of my favorite parts of the episode.
2.) I would watch a spinoff of New Girl starring Winston and Coach. When did Coach become one of my favorite New Girl characters? I loved how dedicated he was to his chaperoning job, and his line about having “four asses” was a standout in an episode full of good quotes. And Lamorne Morris continues to be a saving grace for New Girl’s third season. He elevates the dumbest storylines with his great delivery and fearlessly weird performances. I don’t know what was better, watching Winston take the sexual tension out of a room by talking about the scent of his sweat or watching him dance while not knowing the words to “Call Me Maybe.”
3.) The Dumbest Boys In School is my new favorite rap group. From Schmidt rapping about teal (“When I say teal, you say sometimes!”) to Cece beat-boxing and Nick not having any fellow Chicagoans in the house, that rapping scene was one of the best New Girl ensemble scenes in a long time. It was awkward, silly, and just sweet enough to fit the tone of the show perfectly.
4.) I don’t understand why Jess and Nick are so miserable about a breakup that didn’t need to happen. It still doesn’t make sense to me. If you’re really going to be impacted that much by a breakup you mutually and impulsively decided on, then why did you break up in the first place? The fact that I still see the breakup as poorly handled and contrived has really impacted the way I see Nick and Jess’s character arcs now, and it’s continuing to keep me from enjoying parts of the show.
5.) It’s gotten to the point where I enjoy this show despite Nick—not because of him. Nick Miller reached new lows of idiocy in “Dance.” I know he was also channeling his emotions about the breakup into his interactions with the kids, but it was way too over-the-top to be even remotely entertaining. I laughed a little bit at the stuff with the different sodas mixed together, but as soon as he set off the fireworks/rockets/whatever they were, I just got mad. This isn’t even “immature Nick” from Season One; this is a character I don’t know or want to know because he’s not only too stupid to function, he enjoys being too stupid to function. Last season, I tuned into New Girl every week excited to see what new layer Nick’s character was going to get. This season, I’ve come to dread the ways this character is being stripped of everything that made him interesting just so he could be enough of a mess to justify the breakup. The only other explanation is that the writers really think he’s funnier when he’s written as a caricature, and that’s an even more depressing theory.