Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Girl 5x01 "Big Mama P" (Year of Us)

"Big Mama P"
Original Airdate: January 5, 2016

Whenever a new year begins, people make resolutions. I’m not one of those people, actually, because I know the truth for me — resolutions are always meant to be broken. 

But the overcrowding of my gym from the first week in January until March tells a different story for the vast majority of people who aren’t me. A new year brings fresh slates for people. They get the chance to wipe away all the mistakes, heartbreaks, and bad memories of the year before. In the season premiere of New Girl, Jess declares to the group that 2016 is going to be their year. It, in fact, will be “the year of us,” she sings. And I love that Jess says and does this, simply because of the fact that she is the eternal optimist of the group. But I also love that she says this because a lot of “Mama P” and the tone throughout feels like “The Last Wedding.” 

This episode wasn’t a re-setting of the show. It wasn't groundbreaking in any way. But it was sweet. It was character-focused. And it reminded us that no matter how much silly and absurd stuff this group of people go through, they will always be on each other’s team. They will always support one another. And I really love that. I love that New Girl's portrayal of adult friendships because these people? They mimic my own friends.

Let’s dive into a discussion about “Big Mama P” then, shall we? Grab your feathers and your best saris because it’s engagement party time!


I waxed poetic all last year about how much I love Schmidt, but it bears repeating. Because in the season premiere, he is absolutely perfect. This is the man we fell in love with in the first and second seasons (before all that love triangle nonsense and cheating and sabotage). Schmidt has been and always will be such an endearingly eager person. We saw last season that Jess is constantly eager to please, but I think that this character quality is similar but also a bit different for Schmidt.

Schmidt isn’t eager to make friends or make everyone love him like Jess. He is eager to see his dreams come true. That’s why he sought to become rich and famous and leave his friends behind in “Prince.” He has goals and vision boards for his future. He is the one who is the planner in the relationship, and Cece is the one who is more lax. The way that “Big Mama P” opened was such a delightful reminder of this, flipping the stereotypical gender tropes on their heads. Cece is the one who casually asks Jess to be her maid of honor, while Schmidt prepares an elaborate and heartfelt speech. That scene was so exceptionally true to each of their characters that it made my heart soar just a bit.

Cece, however, wants her mother’s approval for her wedding. The only problem is that she kinda, sorta didn’t even tell her mother that she was engaged to Schmidt, knowing she would immediately disapprove. And what strikes me as so wonderful and brilliant about this episode was that its central conflict was not resolved. It would have been easy for the show to have Schmidt perform in an elaborate Bollywood dance number and win Mama P. over.

But by the end of the episode, she’s not won over. She still disapproves of Cece’s relationship and decision to marry. Cece, meanwhile, is understandably crushed. But the best part about this moment is that even though Cece is disappointed, she is not let down. Because Jess, Nick, and Winston all give THEIR blessing to Schmidt and Cece. And though her mother’s means a lot to her, I think that both Cece and Schmidt know exactly how important their friends are. And their support makes all the difference.

That’s what is so beautiful about this show, really. Whenever I talk about how New Girl has gotten things right, I’m reminded that this comedy constantly depicts true friendship in ways that most comedies on television don’t these days. At the beginning, Nick and Schmidt and Winston (and Coach) were reluctant to like and accept Jess. But over the years, that hesitancy is gone. All of these characters have individual quirks and oddities to them that no one in the show is a “straight man,” sitting back and observing or judging. Jess hijacks a motorized scooter, Winston saves someone from being crushed by a car, Schmidt has a wedding vision board, and Nick keeps fireworks and a “Jesus wig” in his car. 

None of these characters have their lives entirely together, but they are always supportive of one another. That is what makes all the difference in this sitcom. You BELIEVE that these people are friends outside of the framework of the show. They have inside jokes (Schmidt and Nick singing their rendition of “Hero” to Winston is clearly something they had done for weeks on end; the Chinese food joke at the beginning of an episode last season is proof that they do silly things throughout the week that they have it down to a routine, etc.), and care about one another immensely. They don’t stop caring about each other after the credits roll. They’re living, breathing, well-constructed characters who have lives of their own. And I absolutely love that.

Schmidt’s growth throughout this series is a thing of beauty that continues to impress me. Gone are his womanizing days and attempts to bed women just for fun. Max Greenfield’s subtleties are what make him such an impeccable actor, and the way that Schmidt looks at Cece and smiles throughout the Bollywood dance number is sweet and genuine enough to melt anyone’s icy heart. And I love that there was a Schmidt/Cece conflict in this episode that wasn’t overt — when Schmidt finds out Cece never told her mother about the engagement, he’s not mad, necessarily; he’s just really confused and a little offended. Cece’s reaction, however, is so heartbreaking. And this is credit to Hannah Simone, because the way she tears up and profusely apologizes to Schmidt while walking away really tugged at my emotions.

And then, it’s almost as if the Bollywood dance serves a two-fold purpose — one, of course, to try and convince Mama P. to accept Schmidt; two, however, is for Schmidt to show Cece how much he loves her and doesn’t have any anger towards her. The entire scene is played with genuine heart (with only the final inclusion of Not-Mama-P. and Winston added for laughs) that it felt earned. We were overdue for a Bollywood dance number, and New Girl delivered.


Can I just say that I absolutely love how Winston immediately gets his own story in this episode, and it wasn’t shoved in as an afterthought? The running joke of everyone seeing Winston as a hero was not a joke at all — the joke was that Winston was TIRED of people seeing him as a hero. He did a genuinely good deed — and got to be great at his job! — and becomes annoyed that everyone recognizes him for that single act alone.

So Winston does, in this episode, what he does worst: pranks. I loved this minor story for a few reasons: one, it called back to all of the times Winston pranked before and how BAD he is at it. But also this allowed Winston to have a story that was all about him trying to find his identity. He doesn’t want to be identified as the “Car Port Hero” any longer, so he falls back to his old identity of “Prank Sinatra” instead, no matter how many warnings he receives or how bad he actually is at pranking people. I could delve deep into this and talk about how this is a great moment because it shows how Winston is caught between two identities and will probably spend this season trying to figure out his identity apart from “cop,” but I’ll refrain because I basically just summed up his story anyway.

The fact of the matter is that I love Winston SO much and I’m immensely grateful that he got his own story.


We all know that Zooey Deschanel will not be in a good chunk of episodes this season, and I thought that the premiere was a great shift away from Jess as the central focus of the story. This show is called New Girl, but it’s really about everyone learning to live with each other and figuring out who they are as adults. So it makes sense, then, that as Jess transitioned from being the “new girl” in the loft to one of its four foundations, that the show would shift as well. And over the years, it really has, proving that its writers are capable of handling non-Jess-centric stories with relative ease. 

It’s not that Jess wasn’t central to the episode — in a lot of ways she was — but “Big Mama P” proved that she doesn’t have to be intimately involved in a story in order for it to be funny or heartfelt. She’s the title character, of course, but the show won’t suffer if it focuses on Schmidt, Cece, Nick, and Winston in her absence.

The final moments of the episode proved exactly why New Girl is my favorite show on television — amidst all of the laughter and the hijinks (falling down stairs and kidnapping random Indian women included), this is a show about a group of people who are so crazy that they’re the only ones who could ever love and understand each other. Schmidt’s vision board isn’t now modeled after successful couples or elaborate weddings.

It’s modeled after his friends. And really, at the end of the day, I think the loft crew realizes that they’re all each other really need.

Additional de-lovely aspects about this episode include:
  • Welcome back to New Girl reviews! Did you miss me?!
  • “Call an ambulance. For MEEEEEEEEEEEE.” Lamorne Morris has the best delivery on this show, you guys.
  • “We saw the British coming. India did not.”
  • It bears repeating, but I love that Schmidt and Nick adapted “Hero” to sing to Winston. It’s stuff like this (and the “I Believe I Can Fly” rendition that they APPARENTLY DO A LOT) that makes me think these characters are real friends.
  • “I know I don’t look like someone who should be questioning somebody else’s judgement...”
  • I love that Jess has a party fun because of course she does.
  • ROBBIE RETURNED! And we got a mention of Coach, too!
  • “I’m Prank Sinatra, baby!” I missed Prank Sinatra a lot.
  • The flashbacks of Winston’s “too big” or “way too small” pranks? Hilarious! Also we got a callback to “Elaine’s Big Day” with the badger.
  • “Like Jay-Z, I have 99 problems. Unlike Jay-Z, I have zero caveats.”
  • The Bollywood dance number was so good though.
  • “I never thought I would fall for the slim-hipped ghost of Tom Cruise.”
Well, there you have it folks! Did you love the New Girl premiere as much as I did? Hit up the comments below and let me know your thoughts!

1 comment:

  1. As soon as we saw Winston make a return to Prank Sinatra I immediately thought of the opening sequence of the show. Nick's fake reluctance to be Schmidt's best man was a great prank and perfectly played. And Winston got to listen to the whole things (and perhaps be part of planning it) so it was a great contrast to the odd, uncomfortable nature of his solo pranks. I like that they can mix both Winston's silly side and his caring and heroic side in one episode and I believe all of it. Yay, Winston's back!

    I love that we'll have a whole season arc of a wedding. It's a nice way to kick the season off with a bang and it makes a logical conclusion and there will be so many opportunities for hilarity combined with tear-jerkers. That's like the New Girl sweet spot.

    - I love how everyone was so psyched to wear the rings that Schmidt got for them. "The first of a dozen accessories that are going to unify the bridal party." I can't wait to see what the rest of them are.
    - The look on young-Jess's face when waiting for the approval from Cece's mom was priceless
    - "Tonight is one of the most important nights of my hair's life."
    - The whole sequence with Winston trying on the Jesus wig nearly made me pee
    - "oh he is so white. Remember when the power went out and we put him in the window to keep the planes away?"
    - I really really want to see Coach at the wedding.
    - "our custom hybrid mandap-chuppah"
    - "Stop being so mean to me or I swear to God I'm gonna fall in love with you." All the interaction between Nick and not-mom was amazing
    - I can't wait to see Nick surpass some of the low expectations his friends have of him as best man. Please, Meriweather, can we let Nick have a kick-ass moment? They are all growing up right?
    - I am a big fan of Hindi cinema and the dance number was as amazing as I thought it would be when I heard they were going to do one. And any time I get to watch Schmidt and Nick dance is a joy.
    - I kinda feel like Cece stating that she was going forward with or without her mother's blessing was a real moment for that character. It certainly gave an opportunity for her friends to show their support but I thought it was really lovely how Cece calmly stated her reasons for getting married. There were no raised voices, just very different opinions and Cece was hurt but knew she was doing the right thing. That is part of growing up and I was so proud of her.
    - "Who keeps giving her juice?"

    I am so happy this show is back and I can't wait to see the rest of the season. I know they had some real challenges going in but that could be a great thing and I think they can knock it out this year.