Small Screen Style: Who’s Your Fictional Fashion Inspiration?

When I was 15, I bought myself a black pantsuit and a pinstripe skirt suit. No, I didn’t have ambitions of running for political office. I just wanted to dress like Sydney Bristow, the hero of ABC’s espionage thriller, Alias. Sydney wore a lot of suits and a lot of turtlenecks, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me to look at my wardrobe from my sophomore year in high school and see it filled with blazers, black dress pants, and fitted turtlenecks. Even today, whenever I wear an off-the-shoulder sweatshirt, I feel like I’m harkening back to Sydney’s climactic last scene in the Season Two finale, “The Telling.”

What started with Sydney has grown to include fashion inspirations from all corners of the television landscape in the 10 years since I bought that first pantsuit. We all have those TV characters whose styles we envy and ultimately try to emulate, with varying degrees of success.

When we dress like our favorite characters, we channel a little bit of their personalities into our daily lives, too. Wearing a red leather jacket might make you feel like you’re giving yourself a dose of Emma Swan’s strength. Putting on a killer pair of shoes could give you the feeling of being as fashion-forward as Carrie Bradshaw. Investing in a new pair of thick-framed black glasses might allow you to believe you can be as smart as Orphan Black’s Cosima.

My closet is filled with wardrobe pieces inspired by TV characters I love, but there are four whose styles I most often imitate when I want a boost of confidence.

1. Jess Day (New Girl)

jess day dress

Jess’s style leans more towards the “cute” side of her “cute and quirky” personality. It’s defined by flirty dresses and skirts, polka dots and stripes, vintage-inspired pajamas, and plenty of pairs of flats.
My Favorite “Jess-Inspired” Look: A fit and flare dress with a cardigan and ballet flats. If the weather is too cold for dresses, substitute with jeans and a polka-dotted sweater.

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Grading the Season Finales 2014: New Girl

new girl cruise

Title Cruise (3.23)

Written By Luvh Rakhe & Rob Rosell

What Happens? When Nick and Jess can’t get a refund on the couples’ cruise they booked back when they were dating, they decide to bring all of their roommates along to keep things from being awkward. That plan falls apart when a day spent taking part in activities that were part of their “Grand Romance Package” leads to Nick trying to kiss Jess.

As Nick and Jess make the decision to abandon hopes of a friendship, Coach struggles with his fear of boats and water, and Cece keeps trying to get a signal to talk to her boyfriend. Schmidt initially plans to give Cece a class ring to celebrate her getting her GED (and to try to win her back), but Winston knows this is a bad idea and “accidentally” causes the ring to go overboard. With his grand gesture ruined, Schmidt takes a moment to see that Cece is really happy in her new relationship and decides not to pursue her now.

Winston and the rest of the group plan an intervention in their stateroom to help Nick and Jess accept that can still be friends. Although the intervention proves to be a success, the aftermath is not pretty; the group gets themselves locked in their stateroom for three days. When the cruise is over, Nick and Jess decide that they can still be friends, but one of them has to move out of their room. Schmidt comes up with a plan to solve everything: He and Nick can have bunk beds in his room like they did in their college days.

Game-Changing Moment Ever since Nick and Jess broke up, the loft and the show itself has felt stifled by the awkward situation of two people living in the same room after their relationship ended. By ending this finale with Nick deciding to move into Schmidt’s room, the show seemed to be setting up a fourth season that isn’t as heavy with awkwardness and angst as these last few episodes have been. The comedic potential of Nick and Schmidt sharing a room has already been shown in flashbacks to their college days, so this move will almost assuredly shake up the loft dynamics in a fun way next season. Also, the move seemed slightly meta to me, acknowledging the strange writing choice to keep them in the same room and admitting that it’s not working. By moving Nick out of the room, I’m hopeful that the writers will be moving away from having Nick and Jess’s storylines revolve only around each other. Was this game-changing moment a huge one? No, but does seem like an important step on the road to fixing the show after it got off the rails this season.

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TV Time: New Girl 3.22

new girl dance

Title Dance

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.

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TV Time: New Girl 3.21


Title Big News

Two-Sentence Summary Jess and Nick each try to make the other believe they’re doing okay the day after their breakup. However, their emotions get the best of them during a celebration of Winston’s acceptance into the police academy.

Favorite Line “Well, this just in: The dress code for Winston’s banquet tonight is…optional.” (Schmidt)

My Thoughts I can’t lie; I’m struggling with New Girl right now. I wanted to enjoy “Big News,” and there were definitely some parts of it that entertained me and charmed me. I loved Cece being a genuinely good friend to Jess when she needed her the most. I loved the entire concept of the “Honey Roast,” including Winston’s white tuxedo. I loved Coach having to greet everyone with a hug, a kiss, and a formal bow because he had to keep Nick and Jess’s secret. Heck, I even loved the realistically awkward morning-after-breakup moments between Nick and Jess.

I applaud the New Girl cast for always selling the hell out whatever they’re given, and this is especially true for Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel. But I’m not sure I can pretend to like what they’re being given right now, and it’s affecting my overall enjoyment of the show in a pretty major way.

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We Need to Talk About New Girl

new girl disappointed

Nick and Jess broke up. It’s been over a week, and I’m still having trouble writing about it.

Before you think that this is just a case of impassioned fangirl angst, let me remind you that I am no stranger to TV breakups. I live with the emotional scars of being an Alias fan; I had to watch my favorite character deal with the fact that the love of her life married someone else and stayed married to her for a whole season. I’m not one to get apoplectic over a TV breakup.

But do you know what I do get apoplectic over? Contrivances, poor characterization, and shoddy writing choices. If my favorite couple on a given TV show calls it quits in a way that feels believable and organic to their characters, I’ll be sad, but I’ll understand. I don’t understand Nick and Jess breaking up, but maybe that’s because I don’t really feel like I understand New Girl very well anymore.

I wasn’t someone who immediately jumped on the Nick/Jess train—or even the New Girl train, if I’m being honest. It took until Season One’s “Injured” for me to really open my heart to the show, and that was because I cared about the people in that episode; I wanted good things to happen for them, and I could see that they wanted good things to happen for each other. I don’t enjoy TV shows that let the plot influence how the characters are written; I want the characters to drive the plot. In order for that to happen, those characters need to be written consistently. By New Girl’s second season, I was blown away by the consistent and surprisingly complex characterizations that were guiding the show.

When Nick and Jess kissed, I think everyone was surprised by the impact of the moment—including the writers. These were people who had said that both Nick and Jess had a lot of growing up to do before they could be with one another romantically; they even hinted that a relationship would be bad for both characters. But as Season Two entered its incredible final stretch, it seemed as if they were proving themselves wrong on a weekly basis. Nick and Jess didn’t just work together; their relationship was good for both characters. It showed sides of them that enriched their characterizations while still keeping the show as funny as it ever was.

Season Two was the Season of Nick. We learned about his past, we saw that he was capable of being responsible and romantic, and we watched him develop into a person who was willing to grow. Nick Miller was a revelation in Season Two of New Girl, and the whole show benefitted as a result of the deft handling of his character.

And then came Season Three…

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TV Time: New Girl 3.19

Title Fired Up

Two-Sentence Summary When Schmidt is sued, Nick represents him as his lawyer. Meanwhile, Jess struggles with the idea of having to fire Coach from his new job at her school because of budget problems.

Favorite Line “Walk with dignity, you giant toddler!” (Schmidt)

Episode M.V.P. For as much fun as I had watching the Coach/Schmidt/Nick trio of hilarity, my favorite single performer in this episode was Damon Wayans Jr. “Fired Up” was probably my favorite Coach episode to date. There was something so endearing about how much he cared for the kids he was coaching, even though he showed it in his typical “Coach” way—by yelling and name-calling and general profanity use. There was a nice balance between genuine encouragement and tough-love humor in both his relationship with the kids and with Jess. I have really been enjoying Coach and Jess’s rapport, and I thought Wayans and Zooey Deschanel worked really well together in all of their scenes in this episode. And I know it was kind of a cheap, obvious joke, but the whole “Coach Coach” wordplay was one of my favorite parts of “Fired Up.”

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TV Time: New Girl 3.18

Title Sister III

Two-Sentence Summary Abby moving in with Schmidt causes Jess to push Nick into letting her officially move into his room, which proves to be stressful for both parties. Meanwhile, Cece tries to prove that Abby isn’t right for Schmidt, and Winston trains for his police academy fitness test.

Favorite Line “Coffee for one, a sundae for one, and your most tasteful, story-driven adult film. Preferably a period piece…Do you have anything in the Byzantine era?” (Jess)

Episode M.V.P. It’s been a while since I loved Zooey Deschanel as much as I loved her in this episode. Her exuberance in the hotel room was hilarious, while still being strangely believable. Haven’t we all felt that way after being around someone (or even just people in general) for far too long? Jess may be an extrovert, but even us extroverts need some “me time.” And of course Jess’s “me time” would include singing Judy Garland songs, crying over tiny minibar bottles, and watching period-piece porn. (The fact that she was looking for Byzantine-era adult films and not stereotypical Regency romance made it even better.) I also thoroughly enjoyed Jess’s last scenes with both Abby and Nick. Deschanel and Linda Cardellini had great chemistry together, and I will always love her comedic chemistry with Jake Johnson. The deadpan way she told him to fix his hippie feet was absolutely perfect, and I can’t get enough of Jess’s quiet interjections whenever Nick says something ridiculous (like when he was trying to tell her about the pilgrims massacring each other).

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TV Time: New Girl 3.17

Title Sister II

Two-Sentence Summary Abby Day’s time in the loft is starting to wear on Jess, who devises a plan to look at apartments behind her back, but the plan goes awry when Nick lives up to his “horrible liar” reputation and Schmidt falls under Abby’s seductive spell. Meanwhile, Coach tries to help Winston after the latter fails his police academy entrance exam.

Favorite Line “Girl, I got an obligation at a sandwich meeting to go to.” (Winston)

Episode M.V.P. Let’s get this out of the way right now, I didn’t really love this episode. I wasn’t the biggest Abby fan after the first episode of her arc, and I can honestly say that I liked her even less after “Sister II.” This show has a cast that can seem too big for its storytelling style and half-hour format as it is; adding another person into the group (even just for a three-episode block) is going to throw the dynamics of the show off in a major way. I wanted more of Abby and Jess and less of Abby and Schmidt (or actually no Abby and Schmidt would have been ideal). But I am thankful that the writers are giving me more of one of the twosomes I’ve really loved this season: Winston and Coach. I thought Lamorne Morris and Damon Wayans Jr. really carried this episode. They made me laugh the hardest (especially Winston at the gym and Coach trying to help Winston through his job interview), but they also had the most heart. I really believed that Coach sympathized with Winston and wanted to help him. These two characters felt like friends as well as partners in comedic hijinks, and that’s when I love New Girl the most.

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TV Time: New Girl 3.16

Title Sister

Two-Sentence Summary Winston’s attempt to bring everyone to Bertie’s apartment for a dinner party falls apart when Schmidt needs Nick to be his wingman and Jess has to deal with her sister, Abby, after she was sent to jail. The lone dinner party attendees are Coach and Cece, who are forced to deal with the fact that they made out and then never discussed it again.

Favorite Line “It takes two wings…for a bird to dance.” (Schmidt)

Episode M.V.P. Sometimes giving every character something to do in a half-hour episode of television results in an episode that feels too crowded for any one story to be given enough time to develop and stick with the audience. I think that’s what happened with “Sister.” It was admirable to try to use every member of this ever-expanding ensemble, but I’m not so sure it worked exceptionally well this week. Putting groups of characters into completely separate storylines meant that no one group of characters was really given enough time to shine. The episode was entertaining enough, but I think it could have been much better if it would have revolved around one (or maybe two) stories instead of three.

However, in an episode where it seemed that no actor was given enough time to make a memorable impression, Jake Johnson somehow managed to once again steal the show. His sincere concern that Jess was embarrassed to introduce him to her sister was balanced with his insane attempts to be Schmidt’s wingman. “Sister” did have some great standalone moments, and most of them involved Nick—rambling, strangely hitting on (all-too-willing) old ladies, calling Schmidt out for monologuing. It’s rare when an actor can make me cringe and laugh at the same time, but Johnson is proving himself to be a rare actor. And that fact that he can make me believe that a guy like Nick genuinely loves a guy like Schmidt only further highlights his talents.

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TV Time: New Girl 3.15

Title Exes

Two-Sentence Summary Nick and Jess debate the validity of friendships between exes after Nick runs into Caroline and Jess reveals she’s still close with her ex-boyfriend Berkeley. Meanwhile, Schmidt’s attempt to get his mojo back is thwarted by Winston and Coach.

Favorite Lines
Nick: She cut off the power!
Berkeley: No, Nick, that was you. You turned off the light. All the other lights are still on.
Nick: My bad. Thank you.

Episode M.V.P. This episode had a lot of fun moments for all of the actors, including its guest stars. (Well hello there, Adam Brody, it’s nice to see you again after you stole my heart all those years ago as Seth Cohen.) But “Exes” was at its best when the focus was on Jake Johnson. It’s no surprise that the best New Girl episodes of this uneven season have done the best job balancing Nick’s more broadly comedic character traits with his surprising depth, and that happened again in this episode. All of Nick’s moments of panic over interacting with Caroline again were phenomenal—What if she hurts me physically? What if she hurts me with words? I especially loved his increasing paranoia over her texts.

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