New Girl recap: Suppress the Jess
Wow, it’s like the show knew it would be the first new series picked up for the full season and decided to amp up the polarizing content as a subtle “You’re welcome” to fans and a not-so-subtle middle finger to detractors. Unfortunately, if this is the direction things are going, I think some of the former will soon become some of the latter. Suffice it to say Winston’s ushering wasn’t the only thing that “in yo’ face” about tonight’s episode.
The action took place at the wedding of two of the guys’ college friends. As you can imagine, the fellows gave Our Lady of Adorableness her marching orders: “Suppress the Jess.” And for that, they were fools. Jess is an unstoppable force, an unmanned and careening freight train of cuteness. This took place in ways that were at times funny (cutting off her DIY Spanx, a.k.a. little girl’s bicycle shorts, in the ladies’ room) and at others decidedly not funny (really, writers living in 2011? hillbilly teeth?)
The guys had three very specific goals in mind: Winston hoped to distract people from his ouster from the Latvian NBA, only to be thwarted by a floppy-haired little moppet named Jimmy Longjam who was poised to claim his rightful position as alternate usher the second that Winston was late (and of course he was — look at the jokers he lives with). Oh yeah, and they had a dance-off which largely consisted of freaking on Jess. It traumatic for all involved (including me). On the upside, Jimmy proved it possible for someone to be more annoying than Jess for nearly 30 seconds this episode!
NEXT: Ponchos as pick-up lines.
Elsewhere, Schmidt wanted to brush up on string theory… no, he did not. He wanted to seduce Brooke (Katie Cassidy), his college obsession. Instead, he found himself spending the night avoiding the advances of Gretchen Nelson, his standby wedding hook-up (Natasha Lyonne, who still exists by the by). While Gretchen performed deep lunges to show Schmidt the stretch in her pantsuit, he got up the nerve to talk to Brooke, opening with perhaps the greatest pick-up line of all time: “You used to borrow my poncho freshman year. Remember that? No?” Alas, Brooke only remembered him after he reminded her of his college moniker “Fat Schmidt.” It took but a few strategic lies (such as Schmidt claiming sobriety and calling Jess the Nancy to his Sid) for Schmidt to come thisclose to making his college fantasy a reality. Naturally, Jess ruined it all by brandishing a knife (which she was using to cut off the aforementioned pair of janky Spanx) and generally acting a fool in Brooke’s face. And back to Gretchen Schmidt went. Double or nothing this won’t be the last we hear of her this season. Those pant suits won’t stretch themselves.
Finally, Nick wanted to avoid weeping into his boutonnière at the sight of his ex-girlfriend Caroline. While the other guys largely flew solo, Nick enlisted Jess to be his fake girlfriend. Not unlike the first episode, she needed a short, tight dress and absolutely zero dignity. So, despite last week’s confidence building dénouement, Jess was back to square one in a way. Frustrating, no? I know that’s sort of the rhythm of sitcoms: Blather, rinse, repeat… but, as I’ve said once before, isn’t the joy of Zooey Deschanel and her characters the fact that they’re fairly self-possessed? How many times must we listen to this “Jess, you suck!” broken record for the sake of a cheap gag? And I mean cheap as in dime store goofy teeth, y’all. Egads.
Jess approached her assignment with her usual vim and vigor, playing her role like Caroline (who was two feet away) was on the very last row of nosebleed seats at a U2 show. Though the comment, “He’s so soft, like a towel!” was particularly delightful. Of course Nick decided to flirt with danger and instigate some alone time with Caroline, which only rekindled the torch he was carrying for her. And of course she eventually shot him down… again. Cue Nick grabbing a bottle of Jack and scaring people out of a photo booth so he could wallow in his self-(imposed-)pity: “This is my home now. It’s got everything that I need!” Eventually, Jess came to his rescue (see how they turn the tables like that?) and told Nick to never be anybody’s back-up plan. Empowered (and suddenly sober?), he ended things once and for all with Caroline. Just in time to dance like nobody was watching.
NEXT: Hints of Romy & Michele?
I think the thing that has begun to bother me about the show is that the writers seem to have a very good idea of who they’re creating and simultaneously no idea at all. Take the character of Caroline. After her initial meeting with Jess, she looked back in jealousy (not wary, not confused, distinctly jealous), then in the final act admitted she was relieved Nick had a “girlfriend” because she, too, was dating someone. In real life, sure these kinds of mixed emotions run rampant, but New Girl hasn’t yet displayed such nuance. Instead, it seemed like the director told her, “Okay, you need to act really jealous right now, even though it makes no sense, because we’ve gotta keep this train running somehow.” Same thing with Jess. I was willing to believe that she might wear overalls and high heels in a moment of post-break-up vulnerability, but the teeth? Jess is corny, but those teeth crossed a line. Agree or disagree?
On a more positive note, no one can argue that Deschanel hasn’t been fully committed (not unlike a certain ranch-doused Emmy winner this past weekend), and I have to give her credit for that. And Winston’s imitation of Nick crying, which sounded like a baby giggling, shows that there’s hope yet for Lamorne Morris. Also? The chicken dance! I’m sure this will be yet another polarizing aspect of the show, but I really liked the gang getting their interpretive (chicken) dance on to “Groovy Kind of Love.” It showcased the actors’ ability to improvise and play off each other and was reminiscent of Romy & Michele’s “Time After Time,” which will always win points in my book.
NEXT: Slut butlers and lady hikers and bike shorts, oh my!
Also good? Tonight’s notable dote-ables…
Schmidt: I’m really going to need you to step it up tonight, okay? When I see you, I want to be thinking, ” Who let the dirty slut out of the slut house?”
Jess (in a British accent): Probably the slut butlah, raaaight?
Jess: Want to know one of my beauty secrets? The only way I could get into this dress was by wearing little girl’s bicycle shorts underneath. They are tight!
Jess: Who’s Brooke?
Nick: [Schmidt’s] been into her since freshman year. She used to get drunk and pass out on our porch. It was like having a hot alcoholic cat.
Schmidt: I’d always leave water out for her.
Gretchen (seductively in Schmidt’s ear): I’m gonna tie you down and show you pictures of my river rafting trip. It’s a two-hour slide show.
Gretchen: Where’d you get those boots? Off of a lady hiker?
Schmidt: Where’d you get those earrings? Are they clip-ons?
Gretchen (seductively in Schmidt’s ear): I’m gonna make you wear them.
Jess (tugging at her electric blue, polka dot bike shorts): Is it bad that I can’t feel my legs?
Schmidt: Yes. Now let’s talk about my problems.
Jess: Schmidt, I need you to come help me slap my thighs around!
So, three episodes in, where do you stand, Newbies? Are you liking Jess, hillbilly teeth and all? Or do you think “Suppress the Jess” should be tacked up all over the writers’ room? How long do you think it’ll be before Jess and Nick make out already? Are you liking Winston or still missing Coach? Did you like seeing Schmidt meet his match? Will you be replacing the claps in your chicken dance with a chin pop because it’s “more realistic”?
RATE THIS EPISODE:
Zooey Deschanel plays lovable Jess, who is plodding through life with a good group of friends.