I thought it was about time we got back to reviewing New Girl. (I apologize for the delay, and I included a few bonus notable quotes as a peace offering!)
I can’t lie. I am a huge fan of this show. I like that the characters are unapologetically quirky, I like that most of the dialogue is endlessly quotable, and I like that it usually has the time slot right after Glee, shouldering the responsibility of reminding me that once upon a time not all TV sucked.
The show is a comedy, made for laughs, but what I really love about it is the subtle understanding of friendship that it consistently demonstrates. New Girl doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it has the dynamic of friendship down to a tee, something a lot of other shows can’t claim.
When Comedy Does Drama Right
During a game of football in the park, Jess tackles Nick and bruises his spine, and she ends up taking him to her doctor friend for a free checkup to get around his problem of not having health insurance. (Unfortunately for Nick, Jess’s only doctor friend is Sadie the OB/GYN and she prescribes him with heavy-duty menstrual cramp pain pills that leave him feeling happy and warm in his uterus.) During the examination, Sadie notices a growth on Nick’s thyroid and tells him to come back for an ultrasound the next day.
Jess, Schmidt, and Winston take it upon themselves to play internet diagnosis at the bar, and they manage to come to the conclusion that Nick’s growth is actually a cancerous tumor. True to life, when it comes to do-it-yourself diagnoses, everyone and their dog has a fatal disease. This discovery leads to a lot of crying, a little bit of Fredo-kissing (thanks for that beautiful scene, Schmidt), and a whole lot of drug-induced rambling on Nick’s part.
Now, when a show only has four main characters, the audience can pretty safely assume that one of them isn’t going to be killed off or acquire some sort of fatal condition in the first season. When that becomes the only source of suspense, the story ends up feeling trite, like drama for drama’s sake, and it can be difficult to have patience for the characters’ whining because we know that in the end everything is going to work out fine.
Nick potentially having cancer could have been boring and tedious, but it wasn’t. New Girl managed to remind me why brushes with death on television are important; even if the viewers know that everything will be fine, the characters don’t. It’s as simple as that. Lately, I’ve gotten in the habit of forgetting to suspend reality. Even if the writers aren’t stupid enough to hand Nick a death sentence, that doesn’t mean everyone’s reactions aren’t important—especially when everyone’s reactions includes Nick being serenaded by Winston with “the saddest song in the world” (featuring Schmidt and Cece, freestyle rappers).
In Nick’s drug-and-alcohol haze, he ignores Jess’s wacky attempts to comfort him and bluntly tells her that she doesn’t know how to be real. Flash forward to the end of the night when it’s just the gang in the bar and Jess takes his advice, calling him out on how he hasn’t done anything with his life. It’s an oddly dark moment for Jess’s character. So far, the only thing that has come close to this was her sabotaging her student’s science project in 1.14, and even that was kind of unintentional. But well-intentioned Jess is back within moments after Nick confesses that he’s never been an impulsive person; when everyone else runs into the ocean, he watches the wallets no matter how badly he wants to join in.
And that’s how they all end up at the beach with Nick running headlong into the freezing ocean while Jess holds on to his sandwich bag wallet for him. (Schmidt is also frantically chasing after him, desperate for a chance to finally see his best friend’s junk—and I appreciate the continuity shout-out to 1.04.) Nick realizes a little too late that jumping into the ocean naked, all Polar Bear Plunge like, is not a wise decision. When Jess asks him if he’s okay, he finally snaps and lets her have it.
Nick is usually the most put-together of the roommates, so it’s both unnerving and awesome to see him a bit unhinged. In a very honest, albeit drunk and high, moment, Nick admits that he is not nearly as okay or indifferent as he has been pretending, and this leads to a truly adorable, beautifully simple Nick/Jess moment that once again assures me that they are endgame: Nick unashamedly admits that he likes having Jess around.
Their chemistry is undeniable, but I love that this didn’t become an opportunity for Nick to say, “Screw it. I’m dying. I love Jess.” There has been a slow build going on for the last fifteen episodes, finally culminating in no more than a few moments of prolonged eye contact and genuine smiles, and I absolutely love it. I hope it goes on forever.
Meanwhile, on the other relationship front, Schmidt and Cece have their own bonding moment; she talks about her dad dying when she was twelve, and, in typical douchebag-with-a-heart-of-gold Schmidt fashion, he compares it to his human-sized cat that died. I probably shouldn’t love this odd couple as much as I do because there’s already one budding relationship in this tiny friend group, but it can’t be helped. I absolutely adore the look that Schmidt gets on his face when he is in awe of her.
At the end of the day, Nick is declared cancer-free as expected, everyone chips in to cover the cost of his ultrasound, and they literally walk off into the distance together (but that’s only because Winston’s ancient truck, the subplot of this episode all on its own, has finally died). It would feel more cliché to me if I didn’t absolutely adore the fact that this show isn’t about the drama.
New Girl is about a group of friends and the shenanigans they get wrapped up in, and I hope it never changes. I want this show to remain a shining light that reminds me that this is what friendship is. Friends bruise your spines, friends help you cheat the healthcare system, friends convince you that you’re dying, get you drunk, and then take you to the beach to run naked in the ocean, and friends are there to have your back when you need them.
“My funeral is my time to shine!”—drunk Nick, on why Jess isn’t allowed to speak at his funeral
“It’s because he refuses to wear a Bluetooth, you know that? I gave him one for his birthday too, but he just laughed in my face. Gave it back to me for Hanukkah!”—Schmidt, on why Nick has a growth on his thyroid
“The only way to get through it is to get through it.”—Cece, on loss