Thursday, October 25, 2012

New Girl 2.05: "Models"

“What's going on? Did you guys watch porn together again? Why do you keep doing that? It's always awkward!”

“Models,” one of the funnier episodes of “New Girl” so far this season was really an exploration of friendship and what it means over time. We examine Jess’ friendship with Cece and Nick’s friendship with Schmidt. Both Nick and Jess must wrestle with the thought that if they met Schmidt and Cece now instead of in college and as a child respectively, they might not be friends. This was a serious topic, but the laughs were woven in for a nice balance. There was both a genuine examination of the worth of long-time friends and silly slapstick like a Jess/Cece boob slap fight. Yeah, that bordered on stupid, really. Although the male critics I read seemed to enjoy it. As did Nick, when Jess told him about it. We also got the return of Cece’s amazing Russian roommate Nadia, whose dry non sequeturs and improper English is never not funny. Overall, this was just a really nicely thought out, humorous episode. It’s definitely worth a watch just to appreciate the craftsmanship that went into it, especially how nicely the A and B stories tie together.

As I already mentioned, one of the friendships this episode explores is Jess and Cece. It’s Cece’s birthday, and Jess wants to celebrate it with a night in eating cake and watching “Clueless,” just like they always do. This sounds like a pretty amazing birthday to me (I adore “Clueless,” and 90’s Paul Rudd is hot), but Cece wants Jess to go out for a night on the town with her and Nadia and the rest of her model friends. Jess is reluctant because she always feels super awkward around Cece’s model friends, but she wants to make Cece happy on her birthday, so she agrees. There’s a funny bit where we see what usually happens when Jess hangs out with the models. All she can really manage to do is describe the objects around her. There’s a sense that Jess doesn’t really respect Cece’s profession and that in turn, her respect for Cece probably isn’t what it should be. We also get a fun flashback of when Cece was first discovered. The model spotter loved Cece but wouldn’t give Jess the time of day. So maybe there’s some jealousy there too?

Anyway, things escalate during the night out. Jess gets sick of placating the models by recreating an old Russian cracker commercial for them (she reminds them of the cartoon monkey in the commercial), and in her rant, she calls Cece dumb for being a model. This leads to the boob slap fight I mentioned earlier, which was kind of the low point of the episode. The only redeeming factor was that it tied back to a story in Jess and Cece’s history, where the only time Jess ever missed Cece’s birthday was when Jess left Cece’s sleepover after she thought Cece touched her boob. The fight isn’t really very long lived, though. A chat with Nick makes Jess realize she should try to make things right with Cece. When she stops by Cece and Nadia’s apartment, Jess fins a very hung over Cece. The problem is that Cece has a car show modeling job booked. Jess gets her to the gig, but the show organizers don’t want Cece to go on stage when she can barely keep from vomiting. Jess offers to take over to keep the organizers from calling Cece’s agency to complain. Jess gets all dolled up and then has a predictably klutzy modeling experience. One of her shoes gets stuck in the rotating platform, she locks herself in the car, the works. After this experience, Jess acknowledges to Cece that modeling is hard work after all, and all seems to be forgiven.

The exploration of Nick and Schmidt’s friendship is a little more odd, but still charming. Nick for some reason has decided he really wants to get a pet turtle, but Schmidt, due to his neatfreak tendencies, doesn’t think this is a good idea. As a gesture of goodwill, though, Schmidt gives Nick a cookie he bought for him while out shopping. Nick isn’t quite sure to do with the random act of kindness, so he just keeps going with his turtle research. Schmidt gets more and more irritated as the episode progresses that Schmidt doesn’t seem to be expressing the appropriate amount of gratitude for the cookie. Winston confronts Nick about this, and Nick says that Schmidt just loves him too much. We get some somewhat funny flashbacks to Nick and Schmidt’s college days, where it seems like Schmidt just randomly showed up in Nick’s dorm room one day. I’m getting a little tired of the Fat Schmidt joke, but it was cool to see how they met. Things get worse and worse between Nick and Schmidt, and when Nick tries to make amends by buying a cookie for Schmidt, the gesture doesn’t have the intended effect. Eventually, Schmidt sees that Nick is really trying to be an appreciative friend, and Nick realizes that the “turtle” is Schmidt.

The episode ends with the gang all happily watching Clueless together and celebrating Cece’s birthday the old fashioned way. One thing I didn’t find quite realistic was how the guys were being all extra chummy when the Schmidt-Nick rift was healed. I remember when my two closest guy friends in college had a disagreement that resulted in them not talking to each other for a couple weeks (which happened to coincide with our campus Thanksgiving dinner…not cool). One day I ran into both of them on the way back from class, they each made some jokes about their upcoming stadium band performance, and the war was over. They went on like everything was perfectly normal while I wanted to start crying and exclaiming “boys!” like Hermione in Goblet of Fire when Harry and Ron finally patch up their differences. So yeah, Jess and Cece could still be working out what their disagreement means to them, but I would have expected the guys to just go back to business as usual. But I guess that wouldn’t have been quite as funny!

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