Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New Girl 4x20 "Par 5" (Own Who You Are)

"Par 5"
Original Airdate: April 7, 2015

Have you ever felt like you've had to change everything about yourself in order to fit in? I feel like in middle school, that's how I was. I would laugh at jokes I didn't understand and nod along, pretending I understood references to movies that my parents would have never let me watch. When you're that young, you like what you like and you say what you say in order to fit in. We think that when we become adults, this will change -- that people will accept us just as we are and won't care about our quirks or habits. We think we will stop wanting to fit in with the cool kids or change the way we talk to accommodate those around us. But we don't. Not really. That desire to fit in and to become part of a group or to just become someone that someone else needs doesn't ever really dissipate just because we become an adult.

In this week's episode of New Girl, titled "Par 5," we see that quite clearly. We get three very different stories that don't really intersect with each other but that all focus on the same theme: the idea of changing something about yourself in order to get what you want. In the adult world, the term "networking" is tossed around a lot. As someone who is in the career force, my parents tell me all the time that I need to be networking myself in order to look for job opportunities. "It's all about who you know," they claim. And they're not wrong. It really is all about who you know.

But it's also about who you ARE. Jessica Day has never been the person who can schmooze and who can lie and who can sell herself. She got to where she is in her career because she worked her way to the top, not because she talked herself there. Fawn Moscato... well, Fawn is not that way. At all. And we learn a lot more about both of them in this episode. Also in the episode, our B and C-stories are focused on the idea of changing who you are to be liked by people of the opposite sex. "Par 5" finds Winston lying about being a cop in order to go on a date with a cute woman. It also finds Schmidt trying to change his appearance in order to be accepted by his girlfriend, Fawn. Both stories end with honesty (actually, all three stories in the episode do) and it's really refreshing and wonderful. So let's talk more about it, shall we?

First thing's first: this episode was written by Rob Rosell (who usually co-writes with David Feeny and co-penned episodes like "Prince" and "Cruise," while writing solo episodes like the fantastic and submitted-for-Emmy-consideration "Landline") and first-time New Girl writer Lamorne Morris who -- of course -- plays Winston Bishop on the show. As I watched "Par 5," I couldn't help but think about season four of Community where Jim Rash (a cast member on the series) wrote an episode. I thought that episode was great and I think "Par 5" was great because actors are able to bring a different depth and level of humor and heart to the series that regular writers cannot. Don't get me wrong: I love the New Girl writers. I think they're some of the funniest in the business. But I also loved this episode because Lamorne was able to take his knowledge of his character from an acting standpoint and his personal knowledge of four years' worth of characterization for all of his fellow actors and translate it hilariously and poignantly to screen. The episode was funny and thought-provoking and really, really wonderful. So bravo to both writers on their work.

I'm going to work on breaking down the episode a bit differently than normal to talk about the three plots (which actually I didn't mind and I usually think A/B/C plots weaken New Girl episodes).


In our A-story, Jess and Fawn attend a charity golf game in order to schmooze school board members who can help Jess in getting computers for her students. Jess isn't so great with the small-talk. She's hilariously awkward around people in networking settings, but it's more than that. Fawn insists that Jess has to schmooze in order to get what she wants. That seems disingenuous to Jess and it's because it is -- it's a political move. And Jess is a lot of things, really, but she's not a politician. She's not good at being demanding and forceful. She's not good at being phony with people. Jessica Day is transparent. She is who she is EVERYWHERE she is. She cannot hide her personality and in "Par 5," she tries to because that's what Fawn believes is best. The way to get what you want, she insists, is by putting on an act for the people around you and then getting what you want from that. Jess takes her advice because let's be honest -- the whole "being herself" thing doesn't seem to be working with the women and Fawn is clearly successful. She's a professional politician and therefore a professional actress. She's good at working people to her advantage. She's stellar at maintaining a pristine image and an air of professionalism.

The AV Club likened this episode's A-story to that of "Jess and Julia." And I can see why. Fawn is tough and she's precise, but she's not unfeeling, either. We get the opportunity to see that at the end of the episode when she becomes an embarrassment at the golf game and insists that Schmidt should break up with her because her brand is tainted and therefore, so is she. I love that vulnerability in Fawn because it's one of the rare times where she's completely honest in this episode. She's exactly who she is in that moment, no guards up and no flashy political agenda. She is real and upset and instead of driving Schmidt away, that pushes him closer to her. Fawn believes that people are means to an end. Jess? Jess believes that people are people -- living, breathing human beings who are unique and have quirks and hang-ups and who aren't perfect. And after a while, she realizes that she can't pretend to be someone she isn't. The way she's going to succeed in her life isn't by putting on a show. It's not by wearing a facade. The way she's going to succeed as a vice-principal is by owning her failures and owning her quirks. THAT is how she will earn the respect of the people around her: by simply being confident enough to be who she is without any agendas.

The best part of this episode is that Fawn and Jess leave it having learned something from each other that makes them better versions of themselves.


Speaking of the theme of changing yourself, the B-plot of this episode is about Winston lying to a woman named KC about the fact that he's a cop. "Par 5" starts out, hilariously, by Winston badly flirting with KC. Coach and Nick aid him because... well, let's be real. They can't be forced to sit  back and watch Winston holler: "SHAWTY WHAT THAT THANG DO?" at the young woman. When KC tells Winston that she's going to a rally to protest the police, he understandably freaks out and lies to her on their date about who he is and what he does. But the reason that this story has depth is in the discussion of race that Winston and Nick have later at the loft. Winston knows that he needs to come clean with KC about his job, but he can't. He can't bring himself to not because he wants to impress the girl -- he can't because the story she told him on their date is so true. He can't bring himself to tell her because he understands why she's so against the police. When Nick tells Winston that they've been friends forever and they can discuss these sort of things, Winston tells him -- frankly -- that they can't. Nick can understand him in a lot of ways, but that's not one of those ways. And he can dole out advice, but this isn't the circumstance in which he really can.

I thought that this B-story was great because it gave Winston so much depth and it gave weight to a show that, yes, has a cast with a few different ethnic groups represented. New Girl is so great because it's a show about a bunch of people who are all adults and sometimes act like children but really love each other in spite of all of their barriers and baggage. But sometimes I forget that the characters on the show, while they love each other, cannot relate to each other in every way all of the time, no matter how close they are. Nick will never understand why KC is scared of the police. He'll never be able to understand why Winston sympathizes with that. He just can't. And this B-story provided such a great interjection of reality into an otherwise run-of-the-mill plot (Guy/Girl A lies to Guy/Girl B about who they are in order to gain their affection). There was some heaviness, there, and I loved that. My favorite episode of New Girl is "Injured" and it's for that reason -- this show doesn't often handle really deep or really serious topics of discussion. But when they do, they always make sure that they do so delicately and -- more than anything -- that the covering of these topics provides a deeper understanding of one or more of its characters.

I loved the B-plot because it allowed us to understand Winston Bishop more. And I love the resolution of the plot, with Winston showing up at KC's work and telling her that he is trying to be one of the good guys and he understands why she's apprehensive of the police. But he's trying. He's trying to make the world better so that in the future, people don't have to be afraid. That was such a wonderful way to tie up the story, honestly.


Since the theme of "Par 5" was about changing who you are in order to impress others, it's fitting that the C-plot for Schmidt and Cece was about that, too. When Fawn tells Schmidt that he needs to be more tan so that when he stands next to her in photos, he doesn't look like a ghost, the man obliges and buys bronzer, enlisting the help of Cece to rub it on him. The problem? Well, Schmidt accidentally bought tanner with glitter in it. Both adults are appalled and try to remedy the issue. New Girl is slowly building back toward the idea of Schmidt/Cece as a romantic pairing and honestly, I'm pleased with this. I think that the way the show has been developing both characters this season (and toward the end of last season) could support a reconciliation between them. Cece vocalizes in this episode, though, that she doesn't get why Fawn wants Schmidt to change -- she thinks he's fine just the way he is. And it's a sweet little moment between these two people who always want each other to be happy and always see the potential in one another.

So why is Schmidt so okay with changing who he is for Fawn? I think that he believes she's worth it. I think Schmidt cares about Fawn a lot -- this is the first serious relationship he's had since Cece, really -- and I think that when you care about someone, you do stupid things for them. Schmidt accepts Fawn's flaws though and the problem with Fawn is that she doesn't accept Schmidt's. Hopefully "Par 5" taught her that relationships are about embracing your flaws and seeing them as ways to grow closer to someone, not further away.

What I loved about "Par 5" as a whole was that it reminded us that you can change who you are in order to gain the favor of others. It's not that difficult to do. But it's difficult to live a lie -- to live with someone you're not -- and it's better to be honest and to be real in your relationships than to pretend you have it all together. You suck at golf? Own it. You have pale skin? Own it. You're happy with your career even though it goes against what someone else thinks? Own it. No matter what your quirks are, New Girl always encourages its characters and its audience to own them. And I love that.

Additional de-lovely aspects about the episode include:
  • This season of New Girl has been stellar. I'm really sad that it's ending soon because I think it's been such a return to season two proportions in terms of quality and humor.
  • "We have a fun thing together." "SUPER fun."
  • Damon Wayans Jr. was an all-star this episode, for his jester voice in the cold open and then his song later on in the episode. Honestly, Coach has grown on me so much since last season and I'm really going to miss him after this season ends.
  • Actually, the cold open was pretty stellar all around. I had a hard time tweeting the jokes and one-liners fast enough, especially the exchange between Fawn and Cece.
  • "Solid municipal burn, Jessica."
  • "People are saying that you're haunting me." Zoe Lister-Jones has been absolutely perfect as Fawn Moscato but in "Par 5" she was outstanding and the most hilarious she's ever been. I actually really loved the final scene between her and Schmidt too where we got to see some of Fawn's vulnerability. Basically, Zoe Lister-Jones is fabulous and should be doted on as much as possible.
  • "SHAWTY WHAT THAT THANG DO?" I got "Cooler" flashbacks when Winston said that and it made me seriously happy.
  • "Stop talking to me like we're in the middle of a conversation. We JUST sat down." That meta scene between Nick and Coach was absolute perfection and I loved it so hard.
  • "That's like leaving Gollum alone with the one ring." Even if it wasn't intentional, I love that this was a callback to the pilot episode.
  • Winston was perfect this episode and if you disagree, you're just wrong.
  • "You have the confidence of a child that was raised in a basement."
  • "Yay America!"
  • Zooey Deschanel's physical comedy during the golf scenes? A+
  • "I need to move on before I get emotional."
  • "That was so bad it wasn't even offensive."
  • Apparently yesterday was Jerry Seinfeld impression Tuesday! Lamorne Morris did an impression on New Girl and Danny Pudi did one on Community. It was awesome.
  • "I look like a dead body that police pull out of a lake!"
  • "What the Jewish God did you do?"
  • "You look like a doll-boy." "Doll-MAN."
  • "No offense, but you're terrifying to look at and you smell like a chemical fire."
There you have it, friends! Did you enjoy "Par 5"? Are you as sad as I am that this season of New Girl is almost over? Hit up the comments below with your thoughts. Until then. :)


  1. I think what I have liked most about it the whole Schmidt/Fawn thing is that they have done a perfect job of making Fawn someone you wonder why Schmidt's with her but then they show why he does. It could have been easy to have Fawn be a classic trope (the mean GF with 0% care about anyone but herself) but the show, writers and actors have done a great job of not doing that and having fawn show emotions at very key points. Fawn is not perfect by any means but it was nice to see her and Jess interact as they are polar opposites and learn for each other.

    Also within a minute of the episode , I had laughed more than I did for that day's Community. New Girl might be the funniest show on tv right now. (Damon's Eddie Murphy impersonation had me laughing so hard.)

    Also a tip of the hat to Lamorne. It can be hard not to make your story front and center the most important but he and Rob did a exceptional job of giving each story equal time and each character a funny moment. Like Nick's terrible impersonations to schmidt and cece describing how he looked. Perfect.

    Great review as always and it is sad we only have two episodes left!!

    1. I do love that Fawn isn't a trope. She's such a hilarious character and so great, too, in this episode because we get to see her depth.

      I laughed so much during this episode and not at all during Community, but honestly if Damon Wayans Jr.'s Eddie Murphy impression and song were on that show, I would fall over laughing. :P

      LAMORNE. He did such a great job of giving Winston's story weight but also not making Winston the entire focus. And it was wonderful. Nick's horrible impressions were so great.

      So sad we only have a few episodes left. :( This season has been a delight. Thanks for the comment!

  2. The three stories really weaved together well this week didn't they? Jess has been having quite a bit of self doubt lately so it was nice to see her stick by her principles and be herself. Sometimes she is completely sure of the right thing to do. And I kind of liked the fact that even though she won people over the district still couldn't afford the computers. Sometimes reality just sucks. And was I the only one who saw a problem coming when Fawn said she wasn't wearing underwear? My immediate thought was, With a little golf skirt? Risky move.

    The opening was simply amazing. This is a show that presents real friendship in a way that is both hilarious and real (take notes Community). I found it very telling watching Fawn correct Schmidt right after we met his mum last week. It seemed so reminiscent of that relationship (even thought that's a little too much popsicle psychology) and it got me thinking about all the women Schmidt has been involved with from his dominant boss to Cece to Fawn etc. They have all been extremely strong and really not shy about telling him what to do.

    I thought it was great that the episode wasn't shy about the tensions around the police and Winston's concerns about it and they didn't try and wrap it up tritely either. It was also great to see Winston and Nick talk honestly about some things that they will never really understand about each other. They may have been friends since childhood, gone to the same school and everything but their experience will never be equivalent. From a comedy show, I thought it was a very honest and moving situation that also didn't make it seem like a "special episode" because they didn't offer any easy solutions. We didn't see all of the conversation (very interesting choice writing-wise and very effective); we just got to see Winston handle it as best he could and we also got to see a little of his striptease which was awesome.

    - "Who are you in this story?" "I am the jester" "Yeah, I'm not going to eat here any more."
    - "You're more of a follow-a-butterfly-around-for-a-day kinda gal."
    - "I don't know what he's doing with his mouth. That is not his normal smile at all."
    - I love that Winston has no game. It makes me love him even more. "I saw Nick Nolte in the park once." amazing!
    - "Those little mice Jews"
    - "Just don't get too expressive, you'll crease."
    - "Just pray they don't order soup. Lost a lot of good men to soup."
    - "Try not to make jokes about murdering Sesame Street puppets, if you can."
    - "Now it's drafty and I feel vulnerable to wildlife."
    - "But I'm hungry. I skipped breakfast and lunch is going to be dumb as hell. Race talk snacks, race talk snacks, gotta get me some race talk snacks. Gonna get so uncomfortable!" I could not love Coach more than in that moment!
    - "It is education that will bring water back to this city"
    - "Will you stop laughing Lou? You're a father. You're my father."
    - "If there are ever Ghostbusters, I know they're gonna recruit from law enforcement first."
    - "I wear my underwear two sizes too big." Winston Bishop for the win!

  3. BECCA. You always know exactly what to say to compliment these reviews and also remind me of things I've forgotten. ;)

    The three stories really weaved together well this week didn't they?

    Usually A/B/C stories really weaken the show (or any show) because it splits time up so weirdly but this week was the actual perfect mix of every story. The C-story didn't take up too much time which was essential because it was a sillier story.

    I LOVE that Jess's problems weren't resolved and that Winston's issues and Nick's confusions weren't either. It's so easy to tie up things in a neat little bow but that doesn't happen in reality and it was great to see that the moral wasn't "be yourself and great things will happen." It was "be yourself and you'll be a better person because of it and maybe great things will happen but maybe they won't."

    The opening was simply amazing.

    I got so many feelings just watching everyone eat dinner and then Jess coming home and knighting Winston. Like, you can tell that these people are such great friends with each other that they do this ALL the time and that it's so natural for them to be weird and have inside jokes. What I always love about New Girl is that you feel like the characters exist off-screen: like they really DO hang out with each other and do stuff together and their friendship doesn't just end when the credits roll (*coughCOMMUNITYcough*).

    From a comedy show, I thought it was a very honest and moving situation that also didn't make it seem like a "special episode" because they didn't offer any easy solutions. We didn't see all of the conversation (very interesting choice writing-wise and very effective); we just got to see Winston handle it as best he could.

    THAT is what made the story so great -- no simple solutions and it wasn't the main focus of the episode but it was a factor in that relationship. It was so great to see the series tackle a topic without being overzealous or trying to offer a solution. It was just something that would logically come up for these characters and it was wonderful because of that.

    "But I'm hungry. I skipped breakfast and lunch is going to be dumb as hell. Race talk snacks, race talk snacks, gotta get me some race talk snacks. Gonna get so uncomfortable!" I could not love Coach more than in that moment!

    I was CRACKING UP by that point, I can't even lie. Damon Wayans Jr. was just hysterical this episode. Thanks as always for your comments, Becca! :D