Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Report Cards Are In! (Grading This Season of My Favorite Shows)

I never worried about report card days in school. I knew, usually without fail, that I would see all A’s and B’s. I had never even gotten a C on a progress report or a report card until college (darn you, Microeconomics course!). I was always an overachiever and a perfectionist and, to be honest, I am still the exact same way today. Since kids all across the country are wrapping up their classes and getting ready for summer, receiving their report cards and taking their finals, I thought it only appropriate that I would present my TV report card for this season!

So below the cut, get ready to get graded: I scored the most recent seasons of some of my television shows, noted the best episodes of their season, and explained why these shows got the grades that they did. Cross your fingers and close your eyes, then open them and see this year’s TV report card.


Best episodes: "Cooperative Polygraphy" & "Geothermal Escapism"
Why it got this grade: I was tough on Community this year and I will be the first to admit that. However, the reason WHY I was so hard on this little-sitcom-that-could is simple: I wanted it to prove itself and its worth to me, especially with the return of Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna at the helm.

What fans are unwilling to admit is something that I saw quite clearly for the first time in season five. Community has had issues, long before season four. I was just unable to see those cracks and the fissures until I took a step back and examined them in light of this season. In the end, I was mostly just disappointed with the fifth season. I think actually that in retrospect, there were a lot more admirable things about season four than there were this season. Season four had a theme – history – and it begged this question: does your past define your present? And, if so, can you embrace the unknown future even with those fears? Season four had a lot of pitfalls and stumbles, but in “Advanced Introduction to Finality,” we saw Jeff Winger struggle to embrace life outside of Greendale. And then, by the episode’s end, he professed his love for the group and how immeasurable it was while also embracing his future. He recognized that he was not the same person who entered Greendale four years prior and that he would be okay.

The problem is that season five undid all of the character development that “Advanced Introduction to Finality” established in Jeff Winger. The seemingly resounding moral of this uneven season is that the study group cannot actually function without Greendale. It’s… weird, don’t you think? The group cannot be successful without each other and they can’t achieve success outside of the school so that’s why they stay there; that’s why they cannot ever leave. It threw me, quite frankly, to realize that THIS was the real moral of the season. And truly, it was a shaky moral to base thirteen episodes on. But therein lies the second issue: DID Community’s fifth season really have a theme? It seemed to me that season five was a string of episodes loosely tied together with this elusive notion of “saving Greendale.” But between “Repilot” and “Basic Sandwich,” there was no actual threat of Greendale being destroyed. There was no mention of Subway until the two-part season finale. There was no real threat. And no real threat meant no real stakes. It meant that the episodes seemed to exist within a bubble – they were self-contained stories with self-contained plots and problems. And that’s fine, I suppose, if you’re the type of show that wants to do that. But Community has never been that show. It’s always been the show of the extending theme and the central class that the study group takes together in order to learn about themselves and their lives.

To me, this season of Community felt disjointed and weird. There were eleventh hour “revelations” that didn’t progress the plot or the characters. Really and truly, I can judge this season harshly by asking the question: “How did any of these characters GROW?” and hearing crickets chirp in response. Jeff did not grow this season. He accepted his love for Greendale years ago; he accepted his love for the study group years ago, too. In fact, Jeff regressed from last year – last year’s finale saw him accepting his new, scary future. “Basic Sandwich” determined that Jeff’s happiness was based on staying exactly where he was. Annie and Shirley did not really grow this year (wrack your brains to try and think about how we’ve seen them develop as characters); Abed arguably grew SOME in a relationship with Rachel; Britta didn’t really grow or learn anything new about herself that she didn’t already know from four seasons’ worth of adventures and shenanigans.

With the departure of Pierce and Troy, we all knew this season would be difficult to handle. But what disappointed me most of all was people willing to overlook the flaws and herald Community as genius again just because Harmon was back (these are also the same people who are still slamming season four when – surprise! – a good chunk of the writers from season four also wrote seasons three and five, so).

You can disagree with me all you’d like, of course, but in my opinion, this season was not stellar – it was a collection of mediocre thirteen episodes (there were some stand-outs as I noted above that really and truly NAILED the emotional moments; I sobbed during both episodes) strung together by the plan to “save Greendale.” And by “Basic Sandwich,” I was kind of hoping they wouldn’t succeed.


Best episodes: "Birthday" & "Big News"
Why it got this grade: New Girl is one of my favorite network comedies at the moment. And while a lot of Tumblr users have griped and complained about season three feeling “off” and bashed the writers for their decision to break Nick and Jess up (a decision I’m quite okay with, to be honest), I found season three to be delightful, albeit a bit rocky through the middle. Shows should never aim to try to please all of their fans. If you, dear fandom, are waiting for your favorite New Girl writers to scour the Internet for your fanfiction and turn those pieces into episodes (which I fear a lot of the fandom is), you’ll be waiting a long time. And trust me in this: you don’t want that show. As much as you feel like you do… you don’t. You may think that you know these characters better than you know life itself, but that doesn’t mean you always know what is BEST for them. And truthfully, this season, it was best that Nick and Jess broke up. That’s coming from a hardcore shipper of these two, mind you.

Nick and Jess were the central focus of the majority of New Girl’s season three. Liz Meriwether once called the pairing the “heart of the show,” and in many ways, I think that she is right. In a post-mortem of this season though, Dave Finkel made an astute observation in noting that the series had BECOME about Nick and Jess but that it was – at its core – always a story about these six weird and wonderful people who lived together and hung out together. Is it weird that I agree with both show runners in their perception of the pairing? While I do think that Nick and Jess are the emotional heart of the series and that they are the romantic and platonic pairing that most grounds the sitcom, I also have always asserted that this show was first and foremost about Jess’ relationship with everyone, especially the guys. It seems that season three’s end (which I’ll discuss more in-depth in my review of “Cruise” later tonight) hit the reset button on the show: it left us with endless possibilities and you know what? I think that’s pretty exciting. Literally anything can happen next season and I love that New Girl has always managed, in their season finales, to prop the door wide open for possibilities with its characters.

The two stand-out episodes in season three were “Birthday” and “Big News,” in my opinion. “Birthday” was an absolutely stellar episode of television and perhaps one of my favorite New Girl episodes ever. The storylines all intersected and split seamlessly (the Schmidt/Cece and Coach/Winston stories were GOLD) and while the humor was stellar (“I haven’t arranged for anyone to delete my Internet history!”), the thing that sold this episode for me was how much utter heart it had in it. The birthday surprise that Nick arranges, complete with the video to Jess utterly melted my heart and reminded me just how much everyone on this show loves our heroine. The scene, of course, that made this episode stand out above everything else was the moment that Nick confessed he always has one particular item with him: a coin that was in his pocket the night that they first kissed in “Cooler.” (Cue every single person on my Twitter timeline bursting into sobs at the same time.) The whole theme of “Birthday” was that Jess has extremely high expectations for the people around her and those people always leave her disappointed so she spends her birthday alone, because that’s the only way to curb her lack of faith. But this episode proved that Jess has the most amazing group of people around her, including Nick, who care about her more than words can say. And that, dear friends, was a message worth hearing.

“Big News” was tied with “Birthday” for my favorite episode of the season because of its hilarity but also its genuine heart. This is the post-breakup episode and it could have easily been awkward and cringeworthy but it wasn’t. It was, in fact, one of the strongest episodes of this season because it highlighted everything that New Girl does so well: it focused on the love that the group has for each other, it contained wacky shenanigans, it contained drunk!Jess as a cat and Nick Miller high on a bunch of anti-anxiety pills, it had a solid Schmidt/Cece B-plot, and it reminded us that Nick and Jess love each other deeply, still, and that being fine after a break-up this earth-shattering is implausible. Inevitably, you just break. (The “goodnight, honey” at the end kills me.)

Ultimately, this season of New Girl lived in the shadow of the near-perfect second season. When compared to the year that gave us “Cooler,” “Parking Spot,” “Chicago,” and “Virgins,” anything could have felt like a disappointment. But even with some of the mid-season struggles (the “Sister” arc wasn’t my favorite thing in the entire world), this show returned to where it started: with a bunch of weird people who are friends, in spite of their weird baggage and their feelings for each other. And that is a show I can get behind.


Best episodes: "You've Got Sext" & “Danny and Mindy”
Why it got this grade: I used to utterly loathe The Mindy Project and now it’s one of the comedies I most look forward to watching. The second season of this little-series-that-could is a vast improvement upon its first. And though this season wasn’t entirely flawless, it DID prove that Mindy & co. have a lot of potential for the future. What I admired most about the sophomore year of The Mindy Project was that it took some risks that a lot of sitcoms would be unwilling to take, namely in establishing – and then quickly demolishing and then re-establishing – the romance between Danny and Mindy. Mindy Kaling and her team of writers could have dragged the will-they-won’t-they of Danny Castellano and Mindy Lahiri out for another season, but I think that their decision to put the couple together only to break them up mere episodes later was actually pretty telling. The Mindy Project is a bubble show, so why – logistically – would it take the risk of dragging out a coupling when it does not know if it will return to be able to do so the following year? (I can only assume that this is one of many reasons Danny and Mindy got together at the end of this season.)

“You’ve Got Sext” and “Danny and Mindy” were two of this season’s most outstanding episodes. The former focused on that moment that Danny just KNEW he was starting to be affected by Mindy Lahiri and probably kind of loved her, and the latter focused on Danny and Mindy’s relationship and the man actually confessing his love for her. Why am I sold on the Danny/Mindy romance, you ask, when there are already so many romances on television? Because… there are already so many romances on television and I’ll never EVER tire of hearing a love story. I’m like the kid listening to The Princess Bride being read. I may know what’s about to happen. I may believe that the hero and heroine will be together in the end, or at some point. But that doesn’t diminish the love story in the slightest. Every story is unique and every character is unique. And watching people fall in love for the first time or for the forty-second time is still beautiful. My heart ached when Danny pined for Mindy, but what I loved and truly admired about this romance was that MINDY called the shots. It was Mindy who denied Danny from kissing her again and Mindy who delivered that beautiful line: “Because you love me until you don’t” in the finale. This series was never about Mindy pining for Danny; it was about the man trying to prove himself how much he loved her. (That’s the mark of a great romantic comedy in the book of Jenn. I like it when the men have to work for the romantic ending.)

(Additionally, “You’ve Got Sext” made my list of favorites because the Peter/Morgan story was a comedic goldmine and both Adam Pally and Ike Barinholtz absolutely and totally sold that episode for me. They were the MVPs, though Chris Messina’s face is a very close second.)

“Danny and Mindy” was an exceptional ending to a good season, as it provided us with romantic closure, the entire office shoving Danny and Mindy together (one of my qualms with this season was that it became too much about Danny, Mindy, and Peter and literally nothing about the rest of the office staff), and real, honest, weird and messed-up people being in love. There were references to the great romantic comedies of old (You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally), which I admired. But unlike the pilot episode, “Danny and Mindy” wasn’t about Mindy being a total idealist. When Danny confessed that he had been Catfishing her in a very You’ve Got Mail-esque fashion, she was appalled. She didn’t think it to be romantic in the moment; she saw Danny’s attempts for what she believed them to be – an attempt to win her back because he wanted her back, not because he DESERVED her. Props to Mindy Lahiri for walking away from Danny because she called him out (two weeks in a row now) on his crap. THAT is a character I can get behind.

But of course, the romantic in me is always drowning the cynic, so I was elated when the entire office convinced Mindy that Danny wasn’t just trying to win; he genuinely loved her. And – as they all knew – she loved him. So the fabulous montage of Danny and Mindy racing toward the Empire State Building ensued and it was amazing and wonderful and I couldn’t help but cheer for these two broken people to find their way back toward each other.

I don’t know if Mindy and Danny better each other. The optimist in me would like to believe that they do. I DO know that Mindy and Danny complement each other. I know that they challenge each other. And I know that they really do love each other. And though that’s not enough to sustain this sitcom (I still have qualms with how it develops its secondary characters and integrates them into the plot), it does excite me for next season’s endless possibilities, now that we won’t have to deal with Mindy’s boyfriend of the week storylines. (I’m a huge fan of those, if you can’t tell because of how they often just weaken plots and separate characters from interacting well. Also this is sarcasm.)

Because if this show is all about romance and love, when Mindy finds it – truly finds love – then the show is bound to change. And I, for one, am ready to continue on the upswing that is The Mindy Project.


Best episodes: "London" & "Moving Up"
Why it got this grade: Parks and Rec is a series that my friend Kim commonly refers to as the “bacon-topped macaroni and cheese comfort food of television.” I don’t think there is a more apt way to phrase it than that, quite honestly. Parks and Rec hasn’t always been stellar – back in seasons 1 and 2, it kind of struggled to determine exactly what kind of show it would be and who its characters were. But once it did, Parks became a can’t-miss show that is always willing to stay true to its many characters while also advancing plot and conflict.

This season we saw Leslie struggle with where she wanted to be in life. Was she ready to move on from Pawnee, a place where the citizens continued to gripe and complain no matter what she did to better the town? Was the merger with Eagleton going to be her undoing? And then there were numerous other sub-plots that affected both Leslie as a character and the other characters, too. The main one, of course, was the departure of Chris and Ann. While that episode was stellar and had me sobbing, my favorite two episodes of the season are actually the ones that bookended it.

What Parks and Rec has always done so well and that I’ve consistently admired is this: it treats its characters with respect. It is a show that stays true to who these people are while also growing them. It gave Ron Swanson a wife and a family – it gave him HAPPINESS and it changed him. Not dramatically, mind you. Ron will always be this gruff, pretends-to-be-unfeeling man. But everyone knows that love changes people, whether you admit it or not. April and Andy have grown from goofy, wacky side-characters to people who genuinely love and care about everyone they surround themselves with. Donna and Tom have even grown up and though they still make mistakes and still have their wild, amazing personalities, they’ve been changed because of the events of this season. And that is the mark of a great show: the ability to remain true to your characters while also evolving them.

The finale of Parks and Rec was nothing short of amazing, incorporating everything that I love about this series into one brilliant hour. And then, quite amazingly, it thrust a time-jump twist upon us that made me do a double-take and actually made me MORE excited for season seven. Because the fact of the matter is that I love Pawnee and I love its characters. I love that they all genuinely, honestly, and completely love each other, too. They don’t pretend to care – they REALLY care. They support each other and make fun of each other, and at the end of the day they are there for each other. I couldn’t ask for anything more in a sitcom.


Best episodes: "Sydney, Australia" & "Dead and Improved"
Why it got this grade: One of the most criminally underrated comedies of this season is the CBS show The Crazy Ones. If you follow me on Twitter, you know just how much I adore this little sitcom and how desperate I am for it to be renewed for a second season. I stuck with very few shows this fall, mainly because they disappointed me. And while the pilot of The Crazy Ones was good, the series only improved from there, throwing us not just wacky hijinks and absolutely hilarious shenanigans, but also pulling at our heartstrings. I wrote about why you should be watching this sitcom, and during summer hiatus, we’ll be re-watching episodes from this season so I suggest you all check it out if you haven’t already!

This show is a true ensemble at its core. Though Robin Williams is utterly fantastic with his zany, quick-witted brand of humor (and plethora of voices and imitations), the show is at its best when it utilizes every character from the uptight and perfectionist character of Sydney (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar) to the weirdly dark Lauren (Amanda Setton) to the best new bromance of the television season with Zach and Andrew (James Wolk; Hamish Linklater), this is a comedy that thrives on incorporating everyone.

“Sydney, Australia” is one of the best episodes this show has done because it combines the talented, funny cast with an equally talented and funny guest star in Josh Groban. This is an episode that will make you laugh so hard you may actually have to pause to catch your breath. But The Crazy Ones, as I noted above, isn’t just about the laughs. The last episode before winter hiatus was titled “Dead and Improved,” and it featured Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s best dramatic acting work of the season during a funeral scene and the conversation that preceded it. I cannot articulate how amazing these two are as a father-daughter duo on the series. I honestly can’t.

So if you trust me at all, or even just a little bit, catch up on The Crazy Ones this summer and cross your fingers with me for a season two!


Best episodes: "Pete's Airstream" & "Vets"
Why it got this grade: In discussing criminally low-rated and overlooked comedies, I’d be remiss if I did not mention Enlisted, a military comedy on FOX that is simply the best new comedy to emerge from the crop this season. I became invested in the series (and aware of it, actually, since I don’t think I had even heard of it until this point) thanks to my lovely followers on Twitter.

Friends, before Enlisted’s inevitable cancellation, please watch all of the episodes that are available to you because they are fantastic. Each episode is chock full of hilarious characters, delightful situations, and wonderful (I do mean wonderful as the two episodes above have made me burst into tears) heart. This is such a genuinely GOOD show that it’s a shame it was slated for Friday nights, because if it was, say, leading the FOX Tuesday comedy block instead of Dads, everything would be right with the world.

I will spare you a recap of plot and characters because I’ve already written why this show needs to be seen by everyone, but I will say that Enlisted is one of the most consistently great comedies I have watched in recent years. Every episode is so top-notch that choosing two favorite episodes was actually difficult. In the end, I settled for an episode that is riddled with FUN but tackles the amazingly complex subject of PTSD with delicacy and gentleness (“Pete’s Airstream”) and an episode filled with Hill brothers shenanigans that leads to an emotional conclusion (“Vets”).

You’ll notice, too, that Enlisted is the only comedy that I granted an A to this year and actually is the only show in general that I granted an A to this year. While other comedies struggled to figure out what to do with their characters and how to best balance relationships, humor, and heart, Enlisted made it look easy. I know, from the few episodes that have aired, exactly who each character is. I know what makes them funny. I also know what makes Pete and Randy and Derrick vulnerable. This show managed to flesh out its characters and dimensionalize them in a way that no other sitcom this year – let alone a freshman sitcom – could.

And because of that and so many other wonderful elements, Enlisted makes the grade.


Best episodes: "The Sin Eater" & "Bad Blood"
Why it got this grade: I like to talk about how I thought Sleepy Hollow was going to be the craziest, campiest show in the world. And yes, this IS a pretty crazy and campy show. But I don’t hate it. I actually really and truly love it and cannot wait for it to return in season two to blow my mind further. Sleepy Hollow is a show that seems like it should fail on every level – a series that’s a modern-day retelling of its namesake seems like it shouldn’t work. The best and weirdest part is that it really does, on every level.

Though the first season was not without some flaws, the series found its strength in a few things. One, it managed to genuinely scare us all and/or creep us out, to the point where those of us live-tweeting would often use the hashtag #CreepyHollow whenever something particularly spooky would happen. Secondly, it developed one of the loveliest relationships on television between Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills. These two characters interact so seamlessly, both in their sassiness (#SassyHollow) and genuine care for one another that it’s hard to believe they’re from two very different periods in time. Thirdly, Sleepy Hollow is a genuinely funny show. Though it may not seem like it would be, trust me: you haven’t really lived until you’ve listened to Ichabod sass the modern era or Abbie sass Ichabod.

Two of the strongest episodes this season focused on the character of “The Sin Eater,” and while I won’t spoil who, exactly, this character is in case you choose to marathon the series over summer hiatus, suffice it to say that both episodes that primarily feature him are absolutely mesmerizing, dramatic, and top-notch. Sleepy Hollow is a show that is in a class all its own: it dips its toes into the metaphorical waters of horror, comedy, drama, and supernatural television. It’s this weirdly delightful mix of stapled genres that just works.

So here I am, anxiously awaiting the return of Ichabod, Abbie, Jenny, Katrina, and the others in Sleepy Hollow next season. And you should be, too.


Best episodes: "The Other Time" & "Yesterday's Gone"
Why it got this grade: Suits is one of the few dramas on television that I actually commit to watch every year. I began marathoning it a few seasons ago and fell in love with its complex characters, intense drama, and sassy humor. This season of Suits was pretty decent, albeit not fantastic. It got muddled down with the Ava Hessington arc (I was very “meh” about that arc, to be honest), but had some shining moments throughout the season, most notably in the episodes listed above. And when this season ended, I found myself in the same situation as when I finished watching Parks and Rec’s finale: I had to wonder “… well, NOW what happens?”

“The Other Time” was this season’s flashback episode and it heavily featured Harvey and Donna’s relationship, which is a relationship that really grounds Suits, if we’re all being honest. Gabriel Macht and Sarah Rafferty always give tremendous performances as Harvey and Donna, but this season both were absolute shining stars, especially in “The Other Time” (and, for Rafferty, all of her scenes in “She’s Mine”/ “Endgame”). Suits may not have me sold on the Mike/Rachel romance, but it has me sold on whatever Harvey/Donna is and whatever it will become. Those two characters understand one another better than anyone else could possibly understand them. And the fact that we, as the audience, got the opportunity to see exactly how their relationship began was wonderful. “Yesterday’s Gone” was another favorite of mine this season because of the thematic brilliance that ran throughout the episode as the dichotomy between truth and the law. The music in this show is always brilliant, but this episode really astounded me with the selections.

Jessica’s story in “Yesterday’s Gone” was what really solidified this episode as a favorite of mine, since we are not often used to seeing the personal side of Jessica Pearson, as opposed to the business side of her. The sheer brilliance with which Gina Torres plays Jessica though is always something to be admired. Finally, in “Yesterday’s Gone,” I was able to empathize with every character. And I think that is what made me truly believe that Suits has, despite its sometimes rocky writing, the potential to be something great.


Best episodes: "Pilot" & "Anslo Garrick (parts 1 and 2)"
Why it got this grade: The Blacklist has a lot of things going for it: a talented cast, an exceptional villain, an interesting-enough premise. And while some episodes of this series felt like original, intriguing episodes of television, a lot of the others just felt like washed-up generic episodes of any FBI-esque TV drama that provided the audience with ten times more questions than answers.

That’s the biggest qualm I have with NBC’s hit drama, to be frank. The performances are pretty good, but James Spader is excellent. He can monologue like nobody’s business and you know what? I still don’t know whether or not I trust Red. I know he’s the smartest person on the show (the bumbling FBI agents on this series never fail to amuse/disappoint me). I know that he’s terrifying and I’d never want to be on the receiving end of his wrath. But I know that he loves Elizabeth Keen. I don’t know why he does, but I know that if I was backed into a corner with no way out, I would want Red on my side. The rest of the cast is talented, though I’m disappointed in the de-evolution of Elizabeth Keen. In the pilot of this series, this was the woman who stabbed Red in the neck with a pen. WITH A PEN. Throughout the season, however, Liz was kind of reduced to a really well-meaning but occasionally just really dumb agent. (I found myself shaking my head at her, more times than not.)

The idea of a “blacklist” of villains is really interesting and some of these, like Anslo Garrick have been downright terrifying. Though this was the most intense two hours of television I think I have ever watched, it was also the most rewarding because it provided for some equally intense moments of character development and strength. The problem isn’t that the writing is BAD, necessarily: the problem is that it is not as great as it could be, and it doesn’t reward its viewers in a timely manner. When I watch an entire season of a television show and leave the season with more questions than answers, I feel cheated. I feel like I should have been rewarded along the way. The problem is that when The Blacklist does reward its viewers with some answers, the pay-off comes way too late. By then, we don’t really care who Tom is or if he’s a bad or good guy. We are, quite frankly, just kind of glad to see one box checked off our seemingly endless list of questions.

The Blacklist probably isn’t the best drama on television, and it’s not one that I would recommend highly to anyone, but it’s also not bad. It’s got a talented cast of rather enjoyable people, a fabulous villain and/or anti-hero in Red, and intriguing enough baddie-of-the-week stories to make you watch every Monday night.

So there you have it, folks. I've reviewed the current seasons of my favorite television shows and now it's time for your grades! Do you agree or disagree with how harshly I graded Community? Do you think The Mindy Project has improved significantly this season? Are you an avid fan of The Blacklist?

Hit up the comments and let me know what you think! Until then, folks. :)


  1. Hi, Jenn! (Jen? Tell me what to do). You know that I love your reviews because your rationale behind loving or not loving a show is well-thought-out. I watched 4 of the 13 episodes of Community this season and have been AV Club researching it (ha, fair) and I love the conclusion that you came to, because I love thematic arcs (hi, Mindy) and did not love the finale of Community at all. So thank you for that.

    You know that I love Mindy and I know that you love New Girl and I respect you and hope that you respect me. I give you that disclaimer because I just have to debate with you a little, little bit.

    My credentials with New Girl this season are mostly trolling the AV Club (ha, sense a theme?), the first four episodes, Mars Landing, and parts of Birthday, Bad News, and Cruise. So here is what I have to say: I think it was so wise for the "Goodnight, honey" to be a thing and I hope that these two characters become better for each other before their inevitable reunion. I would love this sort-of friendship to continue and I would love for their relationship to reignite in a way that isn't arbitrary and is long-term. You only get one breakup per couple, after all.

    But here's my issue with New Girl--you mention that f*cking coin in Nick's pocket, and I just...That is probably one of the first examples I would point to in why I can't like New Girl as much as you do or why I prefer Mindy (and yes, I know it is a sin to compare the two, but bear with me). Here's why I dislike it so much: Mindy's "coin" was those earrings that she wore. To set up that plot point, Mindy wore the earrings in "Be Cool" (and then did not by the end of the cold open), had them referenced many times in "Think Like a Peter," and then finally returned them in "Danny & Mindy." I love that because those little hints show me when writers are cognizant of episodes in advance and respect their audience enough to remember. So my problem with New Girl is that -- did Nick have a coin on his person during the episode "Cooler" to be referenced in "Birthday"? (this is a real question I honestly don't remember hahaha) And in either case, shouldn't that detail have been made more significant?

    I guess my other big problem w/ New Girl is their using alcohol to fuel literally all of their emotional moments. Even in Cruise, Mars Landing ('you get so emotional when you're hungover!'), etc. Which to me means that the writers don't have enough faith on their characters/their judgment that the only way to make them vulnerable is to put them under a substance that makes them that way.

    But yes. Just had to put in my 2 cents. (I loved what you had to say about TMP, btw--and I really think the office will be more utilized, but I think Mindy's second season had a thematic arc that was Mindy and Danny's romantic relationship, and it was glorious, and I'm so excited about where this show takes us!)

    Anyway, as always, thank you--and I mean nothing but respect and hope I don't piss you off by talkin' smack, because I feel like there is a secret I have just missed out on!

    1. Hi Ann! You always know I love your well-thought-out comments. You're actually basically the me of TMP fandom, lol. (Also, it's Jenn with two 'n's' so you got it right! :D)

      Ugh, I wish I could have loved this season of Community. I really do. It pains me that I loathed it by the end of the season because it could have really been something great. *sigh*

      Okay, time for the discussion of The Mindy Project/New Girl. So, most people in the fandom, from what I can tell, disliked this season of New Girl because of Schmidt's arc (fair, though I disagree) and the Nick/Jess breakup (fair, though I - again - disagree). But what I've always admired about New Girl is parallelism, which is a bit different than what you've mentioned above with Mindy. I think with TMP, the earrings were more of a "planting a clue," like Community does with throwing stuff like Annie's Boobs stealing the pen in "Cooperative Calligraphy" into the background. It's clever work, because it makes the audience members feel like sleuths.

      With New Girl, it's a little bit different and the coin thing could very well have been something Nick had in his pockets (the ones he wore in "Cooler" had pockets, after all). I don't think New Girl was intending sleuthing here, like TMP did with the earrings, and looking at it as such would lead to disappointment. BUT what I DO think New Girl did fantastically in "Mars Landing" was parallel "Cooler" intentionally, right down to the way the episode was shot and the color of Nick and Jess' clothes. THAT is where the show finds the opportunity to tie the loose ends together. It takes significant moments from various seasons and brings them back later, in slightly different ways, so that the audience can go: "OH. Look at how these characters have changed" or "Look at how their circumstances have changed."

      I think the alcohol thing can be summed up with what I said in my "Mars Landing" review: "My belief is this: people are really bad at expressing their feelings when they’re sober. They think through their actions with such meticulousness and intensity so that they do not damage a relationship or shift a status quo. Those unspoken fears and doubts and irritations surface only when you lose the ability to completely process your actions, i.e. when you’re drunk or intoxicated. What Nick and Jess cannot allow themselves to express sober for fear of losing each other, they manage to convey when they’re hungover. Those truths bubble to the surface because the intoxication breaks down the part of their brains that over-think actions and consequences. That is why Nick kissed Jess in “Cooler.” That is why they slept together in “Virgins.” That is why they drove off together in “Elaine’s Big Day.” Their judgment wasn’t impaired, really. Their fears simply shrunk. In “Mars Landing,” we see how Nick and Jess’ respective hangovers make everything about their relationship more real: how they recognize the fact that they cannot pretend to be fine when they’re hungover; they cannot laugh away their flaws and differences like they do when they’re sober. Those issues, much like themselves, are laid bare – cold and illuminated."

      I really do love TMP, and I think it's hilarious and has developed very nicely in this season. I also think it's amusing that we're essentially the same people, but just on different "sides" (not sides necessarily and, sidenote, could you imagine if Liz and Mindy could somehow combine their super powers? They could take over the world!) with our shows.

      Thanks as always for your comments, Ann! :)

  2. Since I've only seen the Crazy Ones, I will comment on that. I watched all 22 episodes of the show, and that in itself is unusual for me since I rarely watch any of the new shows that come out every year. When I found out that Robin Williams was headed back to TV after 32 years, I must admit that I really didn't know if TV would be a good fit for him. Since he left Mork and Mindy so many years ago, (One of my all-time favorite comedy series), the TV comedies genre has really changed, and making movies is very different from making weekly TV shows, but I decided for myself to see Robin once again do a weekly series, and I'm overjoyed that I did. To me, the Crazy Ones is the best comedy show to come along in a very long time. Funnier than Friends, funnier than Seinfeld, The Cosby Show, and as funny as M*A*S*H*.

    From the first show, the Crazy Ones had me hooked. Happy to say that Robin hasn't lost anything, and his rapid fire antics are just as funny today as it was 32 years ago. But Robin isn't alone. He has with him I believe the best cast in TV. We all know Sarah Michelle Gellar's credentials. At first, Sarah needed some work to get the nuances down with her character of Sydney Roberts. As the show went along, to me, she found her footing, and was just simply marvelous. James Wolk and Hamish Linklater work off each other really well. Their chemistry is great and the "bromance" is funny to watch. Amanda Setton is very much underrated. She and Sarah are not quite Zach and Andrew, but very solid and has good potential. And of course, Robin leads the way and is just brilliant'

    But as good as the cast is, it's the guest stars that add the icing on to the cake. Imagine having Brad Paisley, Josh Groban, Brad Garrett, Ed Asner, Marilu Henner, Kelly Clarkson, Pam Dawber, and so many more. These people made the show even better. I wish more people could have watched the show because what they were missing was quite good. I hope CBS gives the show a 2nd season to prove that this is a show that could be around for years to come. I will be very disappointed if it is cancelled. Everything about the Crazy Ones is great.