Wednesday, April 30, 2014

New Girl 3.21: "Big News"

“My uncle was on ‘Cops’ a bunch of times. He got no residuals, though. He’s poor.”

While there have been strings of “New Girl” episodes where I have questioned the creative team’s overall direction for the show, one thing I can say for sure is that big events in the lives of the characters always seem to matter. Nothing happens on the show in a vacuum. This can’t be said for all comedies. More traditional sitcoms would introduce a big twist in one episode, and it would be gone in the next (or maybe it would be stretched out to a two-parter if we were lucky). Last we saw the roomies, Nick and Jess had just broken up. “Big News” deals with the immediate fall out of that decision. The way the episode ends also gives me hope that the creative team isn’t going to let go of this plot line any time soon.

So it’s the morning after, and Nick and Jess are still broken up. Two things are going to make this more difficult than your average break-up (if there is such a thing), and the first is immediately apparent. They live in the same very tiny bedroom in an apartment with three other roommates. Nick wakes up with thoughts from the previous night written “Memento”-style on his hands. I know that reference, by the way, because I worked in a movie theater in 2001 and saw at least 30 minutes of just about every movie released that year on my breaks. He’s still in a daze when he finds Jess trying to hide in the closet while getting dressed. There’s a super awkward sequence where they try to decide if they’re still allowed to see each other naked (the answer is no, of course). Both Nick and Jess are trying to keep it together, but it’s easy to tell that this break-up is going to be tough.

Nick and Jess think it will be easier to deal with the break-up if they can tell the rest of the roomies about it right away. This decision is the conclusion of a rather hilarious conversation where Nick makes small talk about the noise a monkey made in a documentary he saw when the monkey didn’t want trouble. Unfortunately for them, Winston put a bit of a kink in those plans. He, Coach, and Schmidt are dancing and singing along to the theme from “Cops” because Winston has finally been accepted to the police academy. Nick and Jess don’t want to spoil Winston’s big day with their sad news, so they decide to hold off telling anybody. Instead, the day is going to be all about Winston. He wants a “honey roast” (a roast where people only say endearing things about you) and a “prominent chair” (aka a throne).

Even though they have been playing it cool, Nick and Jess are both pretty upset, so they need to talk their feelings out with other people. Jess goes to Cece, and Nick goes to his silent older Asian pal, Tran. Schmidt is at Cece’s apartment helping her study for the GRE’s, so Jess takes Cece into another room to tell her the news. There’s a really funny juxtaposition of Cece comforting an emotional Jess on one side of the closed door while Schmidt delivers running commentary about what he thinks must be going on. What upsets Jess the most is that Nick seems to be okay with the break-up when she definitely isn’t. The conversation with Tran makes it clear that Nick isn’t okay either. Nick, however convinces himself that the best thing to do is to throw himself into planning Winston’s congratulations festivities. He goes through many attempts at making the “prominent chair,” and he’s not happy with any of them.

Coach comes home to find several of Nick’s failed chair attempts piled up in the living room, and Nick himself is stressing both over the chair and what to say at the honey roast. Coach says that obviously the cutest thing about Winston is his yawn, and Nick not realizing that is setting off alarm bells. Nick ends up admitting to Coach that he and Jess broke up. Coach, drawing on his own experience, warns Nick not to let Jess see his emotions, and he also suggest that Nick raid Schmidt’s supply of anti-anxiety meds (probably not the best advice). Soon after learning this information, Jess and Cece arrive back at the apartment (Cece convinced Jess that she needed to talk things through with Nick). Coach immediately moves into give Jess a hug, but then because he doesn’t want to spill the big news, he ends up giving everybody big hugs, claiming it’s his new style of greeting. It’s schticky, but it was a much needed tension-breaker.

Jess and Nick continue to try and convince each other that they’re fine while Cece breaks and spills the beans to Schmidt. Schmidt’s reaction is pretty hilarious, going on about how he’s delicate because he’s a child of divorce. The honey roast then begins, and with Nick high and Jess quickly getting very drunk on a whole bottle of wine, this could end very badly. The whole thing starts out as Winston’s dream party, with the prominent chair, Nick as emcee, and Jess dressed up as Furguson. Everyone is even laughing at Nick’s jokes. Then a very drunk Jess decides to turn the event into a real roast, and she starts insulting everyone. That’s when Winston knows that something is wrong. Jess says that the terrible thing about Nick is that he’s “okay” when she’s not, and she finally lets it slip to Winston that they broke up. Jess feels a little better when she finds out that the only reason Nick seems okay is because of the meds.

To his credit, Winston’s reaction to the news is gratitude that Jess and Nick cared about him enough to put such a devastating event aside to celebrate his achievement. The group all gets in a circle and holds hands, which is kind of stupid and adorably “New Girl” goofy at the same time. Winston wants to put off the honey roast until the next night, but the rest of the group doesn’t seem especially enthusiastic about reconvening. Later that night, Jess is finally on the couch crying as she watches “Dirty Dancing” (as she should be after a break-up), and Nick calls her from his bedroom. They’re trying to figure out the new potential friend paradigm now that they’re broken up. Nick still cares about Jess a lot, and when she says she is out of tissues, he tosses her a box from his room and wishes her good night. It gives me hope that these two crazy kids might make it once they grow up a little more.

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