Thursday, October 2, 2014

New Girl 4.03: "Julie Berkman's Older Sister"

“Have you ever seen sex from above, Cece? It’s horrible. That’s why God thinks it’s a sin.”

I’ll admit, I’m kind of ambivalent about this episode of “New Girl.” It wasn’t terrible, but it was far from a classic. It feels like we’re just marking time with wacky hijinks. I suppose that’s a risk with this sort of late 20’s/early 30’s coming of age show. The problem is, people my age have either already or are pretty close to growing up for real. That growing up can be the interesting part of the story if it’s done right. The problem is, navigating a fundamental paradigm shift on a television show is risky business, and characters growing up is indeed a paradigm shift. Mishandling a paradigm shift can be just as bad as letting the characters and story stay in limbo. I guess what I’m trying to say is that keeping a TV show going long term is easier said than done. This episode erred on the side of keep everything in limbo. I hope, even though Nick and Jess Take One didn’t work out as planned last season, the creative team eventually feels confident enough to set the story and characters in motion again.

One thing this episode did really have going for it was that there were only two plots happening, unlike last season, where many episodes tried to juggle an A, B, and C story all in 22 minutes. Also enjoyable about this episode was the fact that Jess’ father, Bob, played by Rob Reiner, made an appearance. Bob wants Jess to meet his newest girlfriend. He’s really excited about this woman, so Jess decides she’s going to turn over a new leaf and be supportive of her father’s choice for once. Her usual modus operandi when meeting a girlfriend of her father is to scare her off because she sees something wrong with her. Jess has, unfortunately, usually been justified in her overprotective stance. As an example of her father’s terrible taste in women, we get a flashback to one particular woman who faked being a paraplegic.

The B story of the episode begins with a scene that shows what a horrible roommate Nick must be. He’s just disgusting. I am far from a neatfreak, but I live alone, so the only person I have to disgust with my (lack of) domestic skill is myself! Jess is looking for the French Press, which Schmidt has designated to a particular (numbered) cupboard, but the tagine is in its spot instead. I almost chose a quote from this scene for the Quote of the Episode. Mostly because the tagine is a distinctive type of Moroccan cookware, and I love me some Moroccan food. Anyway, Nick has been using the French press to strain pulp out of his orange juice, and the result of not cleaning up after that activity is pretty gross.

Cece is hanging out at the loft when Bob and his new girlfriend arrive for their visit. Jess and Cece are rather mortified to discover that the new girlfriend is Ashley, aka “Trashley.” She is the older sister of one of Jess and Cece’s high school classmates, and she “sexually intercourse” Jess’ high school boyfriend under the bleachers. While Jess was sitting on the bleachers. It’s rather unfortunate, and there was a STI involved. There was also a rumor that Ashley slept with the school’s DARE officer. Despite all this, Jess decides she really needs to be supportive. She’s going to try to be nice to Ashley, even though she can’t stand her.

Meanwhile, at work, Schmidt wants the big new account for a sponge company. I didn’t realize until this episode that Schmidt’s boss, Gina, is played by Michaela Watkins, aka hippy dippy Jackie from “Trophy Wife.” I guess that’s why we didn’t really see Gina at all last season. Now that “Trophy Wife” is no more, Michaela Watkins is available, I suppose. Anyway, Schmidt tries to sell Gina on the idea of giving him the sponge account by saying that mean overwhelmingly secretly like to clean. We all know that Schmidt certainly loves to clean, but this isn’t a universal male trait! Anyway, eventually Schmidt wears Gina down, and she says she’ll give him a shot at the account as long as he can put a focus group together by 3 PM that afternoon. I’m not sure if Schmidt is lazy or petrified at losing the account (probably the later), but instead of putting together a real focus group, he enlists Nick, Coach, and Winston, and he gives them pre-scripted things to say about sponges and how men like to clean with them.

Cece, Jess, Ashley, and Bob all sit around the kitchen table chatting, and it’s not going especially well. We learn that Bob and Ashley met because Ashley saw Bob’s cover band play “She’s So High,” and she fell in love. We learn that Bob knows all about Ashley’s sexual history, and he’s okay with it. Apparently she’s a recovering sex addict who went to rehab four times. Jess tries to be accepting of all of this, but then she sees what she thinks are sexts on Ashley’s phone. It turns out that they are just texts from a client because, you guessed it, Ashley the recovering sex addict is now a sex therapist. Ashley is offended that Jess thought she would cheat, so she storms off.

Jess and her dad have a heart-to-heart where Bob explains just how much Ashley means to him. Apparently he’s been planning to propose to her, and he even made up a little proposal song to the tune of “She’s So High.” This seems like possibly the worst idea ever, but Jess sees how important Ashley is to her dad, and she realizes that she has to let him live his own life instead of trying to protect him all the time. Then Jess sees Ashley walking with another guy and immediately jumps to conclusions again. It turns out that said guy is her sponsor. Ashley is pissed off that Jess is still judging her and storms off again. This time, Jess encourages her dad to run after her. Jess follows along too, but she gets held up by a crowd of bicyclists. Just as she thinks it’s safe to cross the street, Jess gets run down. Bob and Ashley run to Jess’ side post-proposal, and it’s kind of the most awkward “look at our new family!” scene ever.

Also as you might predict, Schmidt’s scripted focus group doesn’t go as planned. Nick was interested in a woman at the table who thought the sponges were stupid, so he completely went off book. Even when Coach and Winston said what they were supposed to, Gina immediately realized that the whole thing was a set-up. Schmidt does manage a last minute save, though. He says that Nick will have better luck scoring with the focus group lady if he has a clean apartment. So apparently promising sex is how to get a man to clean. I should have known that. Anyway, the pitch is a success, and Schmidt gets the account. I’m not sure it’s going to lead to the fortune he’s anticipating, though.

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