Saturday, March 22, 2014

New Girl 3.19: "Fired Up"

“What do you call a lunatic who’s only got one case and no hobbies? Your worst nightmare.”

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say this, but “Fired Up” was one of those episodes of “New Girl” that it feels like the creative team could have downloaded right out of my brain. There’s Jess wanting a promotion at work and getting a little more than she asked for. There’s Nick second guessing his decision not to practice law and trying to get back in the game. It was all good stuff, and most of it had me laughing quite a bit. A lot of what made me laugh involved Nick being just plain stupid, which is something I don’t generally like, but the way Jake Johnson executed it in this episode was pretty much perfection. I also really liked Jess standing up for herself and deciding that she’s going to do the Vice Principal’s job at her school her way, not the traditional way. She has enthusiasm and drive to find a better way of doing things that I hope to bring to my own work.

So, to understand why this episode especially resonated with me, you need to know a bit about me. Most of this you probably could have put together if you’re one of the one, maybe two people who have followed MTVP for some time. In 2009, I was a recently minted lawyer who entered the legal job market at pretty much the worst possible time in recent memory. I needed to feel productive while job searching, so I did two things. I started MTVP, and I took on some volunteer legal work with a nonprofit. That volunteer work turned into paid part time work, and that work would be the only year-ish that I would actually practice law (I’m still licensed, but I don’t practice). I don’t often regret shifting so quickly away from practicing law, but it does happen sometimes. These days, I have a very fulfilling public management-type job in state government. Back in September, there was a big shake-up at the office when a few people left for other opportunities, and the fall-out was tough. Despite that drama, I worked my ass off during our recent busy season, and as of yesterday, I’m officially getting the promotion I wanted back in the fall.

With that context, we can talk about the episode some more. Jess has gotten Coach a job as volley ball coach at her school. Coach isn’t enthusiastic about the idea at first, but once he tries the job, he realizes he loves it. He yells ridiculous things at the kids, but they love him anyway. Coach sees Jess doing ridiculous things to keep the school running (like acting as impromptu IT support or groundskeeper) and gets Jess to admit that she’d really like to be the school’s Vice Principal someday. Jess says she feels like she needs to put in several years of work at this level to be worthy of the promotion. Coach just laughs at her and says she should ask for the promotion already. I had a similar experience. After the drama of the fall, I had no plan to ask for a promotion again until my former supervisor came back to help us out for a few days during our busy season. He told me I should ask for a vacant assignment that was more difficult. When I finally decided that was a good idea, he said I might as well ask for the promotion again, too. And what do you know, this time it worked. It works for Jess, too. The principal is only too happy to have found a willing sucker to take on the often unpleasant job of Vice Principal.

Meanwhile, Schmidt moving back into the loft has caused quite a bit of strife for the rest of the roomies. His stuff is everywhere, and the roomies are tripping over furniture left and right. Schmidt says he can’t afford a storage unit, and Winston suggests that Schmidt move all his stuff into that useless storefront he rented. Schmidt agrees, but of course things don’t go as planned. A stereotypical hipster wanders into the storefront, thinking that Schmidt is setting up an actual store. The hipster trips and breaks his arm, and he threatens to sue. Schmidt can’t afford a lawyer, so Nick (who passed the bar in CA and is technically a lawyer) offers to represent him. Schmidt is skeptical, but Winston offers to back Nick up with his “Law and Order” knowledge. Nick doesn’t really want to be a lawyer, but there’s a part of him that would like to prove to himself that he can still do the job. The pressure of it gets to Nick, and he’s really a terrible, terrible lawyer. His effort to depose the hipster is kind of a joke. And Winston’s just a walking legal drama cliché, unfortunately. Nick is victorious, however, when he makes opposing counsel realize that he’s going to be a perpetual pain in their ass until they drop the case.

There’s also a really minor subplot about Cece that is probably meant to be a setup for future episodes. She befriends a guy at the bar who her coworker is also attracted to. The coworker guesses that said guy is underage. When asked to produce ID, all the patron can provide is a questionable Wyoming license with a bad attempt at an American accent. He turns out to be a twenty-year-old Australian named Buster. Cece kicks him out of the bar and realizes he’s bad news. Cece’s never been one to shy away from bad news, though, so when Buster returns to the bar for one final flirt, it’s pretty clear that Cece is into him.

Anyway, pretty soon after taking on the Vice Principal mantle, Jess has to finalize the school’s budget for the year. It’s not looking good, so the principal say she has to start firing people, last in first out. Unfortunately, one of the employees with the least seniority is Coach. Jess is practically in tears as she fires Coach, although to his credit, Coach is quite understanding about the whole thing. Jess feels terrible because Coach does such a great job, and eventually Jess just can’t take it anymore. She gives Coach his job back and tells the principal that they need to find a different way to balance the budget. Some of her coworkers even chip in to help develop the plan. They’re going to rent out the multipurpose room and use the library for orchestra practice. I like that Jess’ enthusiasm is rubbing off on her coworkers and making the school a better place. It gives me hope.

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