New Girl recap: 'Normal'
For a moment there, it seemed like Russell would be too skillful at True American, and indeed at life, for his own good. True American, it turned out, would be the most inscrutable and wonderful drinking game one could possibly imagine (and I think you’ll agree with me that that’s a pretty high bar to reach). In short, Russell’s ability to be amazing and adept at everything including hangovers and ER-level violence nearly proved a stumbling block for his relationship with Jess. On a related note, is there a hashtag for #sitcomproblems? In the end, Russell’s awesomeness was also the very reason he might have real staying power. That and the fact that his only other real obstacle is Nick, who — despite his intense, subconscious love for Jess (at least if you ask Jake Johnson) — is too busy man-crushing to drive Fancyman away.
So Jess was concerned that she was spending all her time at Russell’s house and he was spending none at hers. I know that I, as a late-20-something, would definitely prefer to spend my time in my overcrowded apartment instead of at my insanely handsome boyfriend’s mansion. Totally makes sense! On a more basic level, though, Jess wanted to go home because she had run out of underpants and had taken to wearing Russell’s boxer briefs. It was a lot sexier than it sounds if you ignore the sagging undercarriage and concentrate on Jess whispering about underwear in Russell’s ear. Fact: Anything is sexier when whispered into Dermot Mulroney’s ear.
Jess also optimistically thought the guys might miss her. She was mistaken, of course. Not only was Schmidt still up to no Gouda with Cece (“we burned through a lot of ideas last night — went deep into the stables”), the boys were also completely occupied with their newly invented Best. Drinking. Game. Ever: True American. It involved elements of Candy Land (soon to be a major motion picture starring Adam Sandler!), verbal abuse, pretending the floor was lava, rampant lying, desecrating the memory of U.S. presidents, shotgunning beers, and drinking most of a bottle of Jack. The only thing missing was a flying ping pong ball and fire.
But back to Jess, who got it in her head (thanks, Cece!) that her relationship with Russell wasn’t legit because he hadn’t spent time at the loft. She knew there would be pitfalls to inviting Russell over because, let’s face it, her roommates are weirdos, so she asked the fellas to be “normal” when Russell visited. For Schmidt, that meant not having an ongoing prestige pissing contest with Russell, tackling him to check out his suit labels, or snarking about his sushi tastes (“Little Wussell wants an avo-cwado roll!”. For Winston, that meant not being an Angry and/or Menacing Black Man. And for Nick, that meant hiding his massive man crush, a.k.a. not eating off Russell’s plate or checking out Russell from the next urinal. (As happens at least once a week on this show, there’s no way I can possibly recap the urinal interaction. Suffice it to say, it was a moment of virtuoso awkwardness from Jake Johnson). In case you hadn’t figured it out already, they all failed to honor Jess’s request. Miserably.
NEXT: As opposed to Fake Apps?
Where did the Epic Fail begin? It’s a Chicken or Egg? scenario really, but let’s just start with Nick’s “Idea Notebook.” You see, he and Schmidt had co-invented something called Real Apps, which was basically a less compact, less useful Swiss Army knife that you affix to your smart phone. (No comment on how Nick couldn’t even get authorized to buy a smart phone before Russell entered the picture.) Beyond the fact that the term “gentleman’s shiv” is an oxymoron and the absurdity of attaching an open blade to something you stick in your pocket, the title — Schmidt’s contribution — was also a problem. As Russell immediately realized, it sounded like “Relapse.” To my reckoning, that only helped this cockamamie invention. To really appreciate this kind of tomfoolery, being under the influence is exactly what you need.
And under the influence they were. Russell arrived at the loft, where Nick met him with a plate of cheese slices, a mouthful of Aladdin quotes, and a free lesson in DIY plumbing. After some Schmidt snappishness, the real party began. By which I mean… True American. After a few hours, Russell was “trashed — in a trash bag,” Cece had arrived, Schmidt was wearing only a towel and wrist bindings, Winston had mellowed significantly, and Nick was doing everything in his power to stop himself from kissing his roommate’s boyfriend. Things went south when Russell gave Winston a truly suspect piece of career advice (more on that later). It wasn’t the advice that bothered Jess so much as the insidious “No Girls Allowed”-type tree house bond developing between her man and her boys.
By morning light, the honeymoon was over. Not only was an apple-picking trip suspended, Jess and Russell were fighting. Making things worse, Russell was fending off Nick’s “Idea Notebook” offerings via a Geoffrey-Arend-in-Garden-State-style presentation featuring Nick and Schmidt in their Sunday best — by which I mean mismatched plaid and cheap tweed (Nick) and a tailored suit that approached sharkskin shininess (Schmidt). I would be remiss not to mention that before their “pitch” to Russell, Schmidt and Nick had their own meeting. The seriousness with which they took this craptastic idea was awesome in and of itself, including when Schmidt told Nick in objection to the shoddy prototype, “I’m not going to get Winklevossed because of your sloppiness.”
Needless to say, the pitch was a catastrophe. No number of $3 words could make hungover Russell remember why the guys had sounded so brilliant the night before. Even as Schmidt was used-car-salesman smiling through the doomed presentation, Nick began bugging out about “Real Apps'” unfortunate pronunciation. And that wasn’t even the low point — nope, that was when Russell got stabbed. Stabbed! Again, I feel it incumbent upon me to advise any children (or particularly stupid adults) reading this recap to not fasten knives, or corn-on-the-cob spears, to their phones.
Long story short, it was all an accident, which made things better… not at all. Russell left with a trail of blood gushing behind him. Before the stitches had settled, Jess was already at Russell’s Rich Old White Man mansion — not to apologize, mind you, but to yell at him for judging her lifestyle. As stated in the lead, Russell is unflappable. And Jess is adorable. So, with a good, old-fashioned Spice Girls reference (see below), the tension was broken. They never really determined who won the argument, but I think we can all agree that Jess did. I mean, just look at Russell. And that’s without mentioning how he smells like strong coffee and going to see a man about a horse.
NEXT: I drink your milkshake!
While all this was going down, Winston got a job with his hero Joe Napoli, the Rush Limbaugh of the sports world. It was high-profile, but it was also horrible. Even Nick called Napoli “the worst” — and not in an I’m-Nick-so-I-hate-everything sort of way but in a way this-guy-is-actually-a-detestable-blowhard way. To wit, one of the interview questions was “How far can you drag an unconscious man?” By the time Kareem Abdul-Jabbar began a mysterious, multi-scene cameo by passing Winston a warning note — “Get out now! Run! You will die here! Best, Abdul-Jabbar #33” — it was too late.
Winston’s primary concern was abandoning his manny charge Alvin, but Alvin proved to be six steps ahead of everyone as usual. Not only did he deal with the adjustment with maturity, he also tightened up Winston’s resume (“It’s 2012. Typing is not a special skill”) and set up Winny to look like a stoner so Winston would be fired and have no choice but to pursue a legitimate career path. I’ll be sad to see you go, Alvin.
As Kareem Abdul-Jabbar warned, though, Winston’s new job was no bed of roses. Napoli humiliated him on air and demanded Winston’s stock his mini fridge with six milkshakes. And not just any milkshakes, “Beyoncé-colored [milkshakes] — not darker, not lighter. Beyoncé!” And this is where we get back to Russell. His revenge suggestion (“Dip your boys in his shake”) was unsound on many levels. 1.) Isn’t that really cold? 2.) Isn’t that really dangerous? 3.) Ewwwww! Regardless, just like Louie, Winston got teste with Napoli’s shakes. It would have been the perfect crime — if only Winston didn’t have a conscience! He ultimately admitted his treachery to Napoli, who thought it was hi-frickin-larious. And tasty, apparently. After unsuccessfully pushing a gonad-flavored milkshake toward Kareem Abdul-Jabbar several times, Napoli sucked it up. Literally.
NEXT: Hookers and envoys and spies, oh my!
Jess: I love these parties. I feel like I’m an ambassador or a spy or, like, a really high-class prostitute.
Russell: Well, Jess, it’s a political fundraiser. Who’s to say you can’t be all three?
Winston: I’m just trying to figure out how to break [my new job] to Alvin.
Schmidt: You gotta cut ties with that kid. He freaks me out. He never blinks. He’s like a tiny little owl… in a shirt.
Jess describes being in a relationship with Russell
“It’s like we’re living in a romantic comedy montage. Like, we throw our heads back and we laugh and I try on floppy hats for him. It’s pretty perfect. It’s like the first act of a TV movie — until I find out that he has a wife and kids in another state.”
Jess [seeking solace about Russell]: I’m mad at him! I’ve never been mad at him before.
Schmidt: Ugh, Jess. This room is not a place for comfort. This is Darwin’s jungle — where open-minded people do weird things to each other.
Cece: Fighting’s good. It’s healthy.
Schmidt: You know, Jess, what Cece and I like to do is fight with our bodies. It’s like a really intense game of Capture the Flag. I won’t make you guess what the flag is.
Schmidt: The name is the game, friend-o. Would you line up around the corner if they called the iPhone a Slippery Germ Brick?
Nick: Yeah, actually I might.
Schmidt: That’s why they call it Basketball and not Peach Basket Catch-It-Up.
Nick: You just came up with that?
Jess sums up 20-something weekend cuisine
“These are hangover eggs. They’ll either stop you from throwing up the rest of the day or you’ll just throw it all up really fast. High risk, high reward.”
Nick: It seems these days there’s an app for everything
Schmidt: Doesn’t it though?
Nick: Yeah… but there isn’t. Let’s say I’m out and about, you know, being mobile, and I want to cut a bagel… cobble a shoe…
Schmidt: Haberdash on the fly…
Nick: Is there an app for that?
Nick: Until now!
Russell: Jess, I haven’t played a drinking game in 10 years. The only reason I did is because you asked me to. If I want to have a drink, I don’t really have to play a game while I’m doing it.
Jess: Well that’s my world. Garbage disposals don’t work. Elevators don’t pass inspections…
Russell: Wait, I didn’t know about the elevator.
Jess: Yeah, well… the cables were really thin, we signed a waiver, they took $100 off our rent.
Russell: That’s really not safe!
Jess: Well that’s where I live, and those are my friends… and that wasn’t even the first stabbing this month! And, Russell, my life is just as important as your life. If you want to get with me, you’re going to have to get with my friends — and that is a Spice Girls song.
What did you think, Newbies? Are you rooting for Jessell (a terrible, almost-worse-than-Kimye nickname I just made up)? Or are you bracing for the inevitable? Are you excited to meet Russell’s ex played by Jeanne Tripplehorn (ideally in some sort of Sliding Doors situation)? Did you notice how Winston’s coffee mug looked like a bell in that one scene? And could Nick and Schmidt be any worse at inventing?
Zooey Deschanel plays lovable Jess, who is plodding through life with a good group of friends.