Friday, November 30, 2012

New Girl 2.08: "Parents"

“It's all right. I'll spend my holiday at a Los Angeles coffee shop, sitting around with people who have nothing better to do on Thanksgiving than work on their screenplay. I probably won't want to blow my head off.”

“Parents” was a cute enough episode of “New Girl,” but especially considering it was a Thanksgiving episode, it wasn’t nearly as epic as last season’s “Thanksgiving.” In this episode, Jess’ (divorced) parents and Schmidt’s cousin all come to the loft for Thanksgiving, and wacky hijinks ensue. While the plots were kind of juvenile, one thing I did really enjoy was the dynamic between Jess and Nick and Jess’ parents. Several years from now, when Jess and Nick can be allowed to finally get their act together, I would totally watch a family comedy about the four of them. A somewhat higher quality “Everybody Loves Raymond,” perhaps? It was just a fun, comfortable, entertaining vibe. I was also excited that Daily Show alum Rob Riggle was in this episode as Schmidt’s cousin, also called Schmidt. Unfortunately, Riggle’s appearance was kind of wasted. The two Schmidts plot was the B story of this episode, and it was very physical comedy focused. I think what the two plots in this episode had in common was immaturity. Schmidt and his cousin compete to see who is the “One True Schmidt,” and Jess desperately tries to “Parent Trap” her parents. What 30 year old woman attempts that? Seriously?

The episode takes place on the roommates’ second Thanksgiving together in the loft, and it opens with Jess explaining that her parents will be coming over in shifts so they don’t have to interact with each other. Jess’ mom, Joan, is going to take the morning shift, and her dad, Bob, is going to take the afternoon shift. Jess’ parents, by the way, are played by the wonderful Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner. Everyone is shocked (except for Jess) when the parents Day both arrive at the loft at the same time. Cece takes Jess aside and accuses her of trying to “Parent Trap” her parents into getting back together. Apparently Cece and Jess used to watch “Parent Trap” all the time when they were kids. Given their ages, I’m guessing it was the Hayley Mills version (thank goodness) and not the Lindsay Lohan version. Jess doesn’t confirm this, but she doesn’t deny it either. She spends much of the earlier part of the episode trying to manufacture romantic moments for her parents, making sure their song is playing and such.

The crowning jewel of Jess’ parent trap is to have Nick hit on her mom so that her dad will be jealous. This plan has results that are both adorable and awkward. More awkward, though. Let’s just say that Nick’s advances are very one-sided. Nick kind of develops a little thing for Joan, but it’s definitely not reciprocated. Jess’ plan seems to be working when her parents go into the bathroom to talk about their situation and end up making out. Jess sees them make out and is overjoyed, convinced that her parents are finally getting back together after all these years. While, like I said, I found the family dynamics highly entertaining in this part of the episode, I kind of have a problem with the underlying plot. Jess Day is a grown ass woman and shouldn’t still be trying to recreate “The Parent Trap.” I usually love her whimsy and quirk and refusal to conform to expectations. This, however, goes a bit too far for my taste. As an adult, she should respect that her parents are happier apart. Then again, I never understood the whole “staying together for the kids” thing, either. Kids know when their parents are miserable, and they’re going to think there’s something they can do to fix it, and it’s plenty messy in its own way.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, Rob Riggle also pays a visit to the loft as Schmidt’s cousin, who also calls himself Schmidt. It’s pretty easy to tell that the older Schmidt, who is retired military, kind of bullied the younger Schmidt when they were kids. Because of this, our Schmidt is kind of determined to show his cousin how cool he is now. They have a rather epic battle to determine which of them is actually the “One True Schmidt.” The competitions are pretty much all stupid macho stuff that involves both men wearing no shirt. Well, that’s not the aspect of the plot I would complain about – what I didn’t really love was just the innate stupidity of the whole thing. Schmidt eventually protests that his skillset is in more refined areas like cooking. Cousin Schmidt was a cook in the Marines, so he’s down for adding a cooking battle to their stupid competition. The men are still neck and neck when Cece suggests that the true sign of manhood is to be comfortable enough to kiss a man. Both Schmidts then vow to kiss an unsuspecting Winston, who is just trying to enjoy his turkey dinner (which was delayed because of Jess’ hysterics…more on that later). Both try and fail to kiss Winston, but then Cousin Schmidt finally goes for it, and Schmidt has to cede the title of “One True Schmidt.” Cousin Schmidt is proud of his cousin’s ability to keep up with him through the competition though, so he starts actually calling him Schmidt instead of other, more degrading, nicknames.

So after witnessing her parents making out in the bathroom, Jess is super excited because she’s convinced that they’re finally, actually getting back together. When everyone sits down to Thanksgiving dinner, however, her parents make it clear that while they’re happy to have a fling now and then, they are much happier apart. Jess tries to shove the turkey down the garbage disposal (which made me shudder…see my last blog post for why if you don’t know) and storms off to her room. Eventually, it’s Joan who is able to coax some sense into Jess. She explains how she and Bob really are much happier apart, and some day she and Jess can live together in Florida and “Grey Gardens the crap out of a condo.” Jess is mollified, and the Thanksgiving festivities can resume. After they leave the loft, though, Bob and Joan have one last elevator romp for old times’ sake.

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