Thursday, February 11, 2016

New Girl 5x06 "Raegan" (A New Girl)


"Raegan"
Original Airdate: February 9. 2016

Sometimes there are certain combinations of food that I’m convinced cannot and will not go well together. Until about a year ago, I had never tried chocolate-covered potato chips. I’m not sure why, since I love both separately. I recently fell in love with maple bacon fudge (yes, it had chunks of real bacon in it). The combination of sweet with something that is salty nearly always seems to work in food. Why not extend the metaphor to New Girl, then? (It was a perfect set-up, you have to admit.)

“Reagan” is not the first episode of New Girl without Zooey Deschanel’s Jessica Day. But it is the first episode in which we realize how much the crew from the loft has grown and see a reversal, of sorts, from the pilot episode. In that episode, a woman suffering from a break-up disrupted the lives of three single me. She was weird and she sang and she just wanted to be friends with Nick, Coach (later Winston), and Schmidt. She wanted them to like her and they were content to just have her pay rent and leave them alone. But soon, they embraced her quirks and loved her as a roommate and friend. (And Nick loved her romantically but that’s beside the point.) But Reagan is not like Jessica Day at all. Instead of wanting to become a part of the community living in the loft, the sales rep wants nothing to do with friendship or shenanigans.

It’s a welcomed role-reversal, and something that needed to happen in order for us to be able to completely separate this new girl from our titular one. Let’s talk more about Reagan, Nick and Winston’s “magic”-filled daydreams, and Schmidt/Cece’s trust issues.

WHO’S THAT GIRL? NOT JESS!


I was hesitant when I heard that Reagan would be introduced and would be played by Megan Fox. I haven’t seen her do a lot of comedy, and it seemed like an odd choice for the show to have someone like her inhabit the loft in Jess’ absence. But “Reagan” really and truly worked and I found myself becoming such a fan of her as a character and of Fox as an actress.

Reagan brings something to New Girl that we haven’t had in quite some time – a “straight man.” In comedies, these are the characters who comment on the absurdity that is happening around them. They’re the ones rolling their eyes or looking directly into the camera in exasperation, a la The Office’s Jim Halpert or Parks and Recreation’s Ben Wyatt. The best thing about the “straight man” is that we, the audience, generally relate to them. We love how cartoonish Schmidt can occasionally act, but sometimes we — like Reagan — look at him with disbelief. And that’s precisely why Reagan’s character is important. It’s tempting to say that she’s the “anti-Jess”: biting, darker, cynical, and a loner compared to Jess’ bright, whimsical, loving nature. But I don’t think Reagan is an anti- anything. I think she’s simply a strong and independent woman who feels more comfortable by herself than around anyone else.

The problem isn’t in Reagan’s personality, but in the fact that she begins to soften and tries to shove her feelings away. She’s not immediately enamored with Nick, Schmidt, Winston, and Cece (the latter whom she knows from the MTV Summer Beach House), but that’s to be expected. These people miss Jess, and they’re beginning to show their dedication and “crazy” a little bit.

What a wonderful reversal, right? Jess entered the loft as the person who drove everyone else nuts with feelings and shenanigans; now, the group is doing the exact same thing to this new girl. Not only has the group evolved, but they’ve also become more like Jess.

I think that Reagan works because she’s not a replacement for Jess. She’s her own person, and it helps that there is no one else on the show like her. I’m really glad that New Girl has already set her up to be this completely different force to be reckoned with, and gave Megan Fox some great comedic moments. Just like Reagan is unlike everyone else in this show, so is her comedy. Fox is surprisingly hilarious in this episode, with deadpanned humor and sarcasm her primary strengths. Reagan is beautiful and unattainable, and it’s this persona that makes her so welcome.

Additionally, Reagan gets a bit of growth in this episode, too. We believe that for as much as she waxes poetic about not caring for friendship shenanigans, she actually appreciates how much the group goes to in order to convince her to live with them. And in spite of the fact that she is content with living alone, we see glimpses of her comfort around the company of others. She’s not a touchy-feely, warm and fuzzy person. And the group’s point isn’t to convince her to become one and change who she is fundamentally, but to remind her that she’s human. And it’s okay that even lone wolfs occasionally enjoy being around other people.

I’m really interested to see more episodes with Reagan and think that her title episode did a wonderful job of creating a believable, fun, and different character from anything we’ve seen on New Girl thus far.

I’VE GOT THE MAGIC IN ME


I love that Nick Miller wants something magical to happen when he finds a woman he’s interested in. I like that he daydreams about stuff like that, especially in light of the revelation recently that he thinks about kids and his future. Nick isn’t your typical hopeless romantic, and in spite of the fact that he occasionally makes poor life decisions, he really wants to find someone to settle down with after all is said and done. He wants magic.

And that’s why he’s stuck on Reagan.

Now, Nick’s view of Reagan in the episode is highly idealized (as evidenced in how Aly views Reagan mixing a drink and how Nick and Winston see it), which isn’t great. But I love the fact that we get to see Nick actually invested in things these days — he’s invested in the bar, he’s invested in his future, and he’s invested in his relationships. I’m hopeful, since “Reagan” was both insightful and hilarious, that New Girl will continue this Nick Miller trajectory.

YOU’VE ALWAYS HAD MY TRUST


As it turns out, Schmidt isn’t handling his jealousy over Cece getting hit on by guys as well as she (or we) might hope. When Schmidt then learns that Cece and Reagan had a fling at the MTV Beach House, he loses it and not for reasons we might assume. Schmidt has always had difficulties with seeing him as someone who can add value to Cece’s life. We saw that in “See Ya” and numerous times since. And now we see it again in this episode. He becomes jealous and that jealousy translates as mistrust to Cece. She wants her fiancĂ© to communicate how he’s feeling. Instead, Schmidt does the worst possible thing he could — he pretends everything is okay when it is not.

Cece, finally, is fed up with his behavior and the Schmidt/Cece fight was really important for two reasons. First, we get the chance to interject Raegan into the plot. She doesn’t offer tea or advice, necessarily, like Jess would. But, again, that’s not what Schmidt needs. Schmidt needs someone who will shoot straight with him — who will tell him how stupid he is, and ask WHY he is being stupid. He needs Raegan. Secondly, this story allows us to realize that Schmidt doesn’t feel like he’s good enough for Cece. And that fear is driving a wedge in their relationship. Again, this isn’t exactly the first time we have seen this pattern of behavior in Schmidt, but I do think it’s the most self-aware he has been about his shortcomings.

In the end, Schmidt places a metaphorical ring on Cece’s finger, symbolizing the fact that she has always had his trust. He knows she won’t be the one to mess this relationship up. If anyone would, it would be HIM. It’s really important to me that Schmidt takes this step in admitting his issues aloud and proving to Cece that he believes he is unwilling to love and marry her, but that he will always be there for her.

“Raegan” ends with the title character deciding to move in with a bunch of crazy people she’s only known for a few hours. Maybe that makes her a little crazy, or maybe it just means that even lone wolfs occasionally need to spend time with a pack. Either way, I’m excited for these characters to continue to develop together over the next few episodes. Friendship and shenanigans, here we come!

Additional de-lovely aspects about this episode include:
  • Kim Rosenstock wrote this episode and I love everything she writes.
  • “That’s more like dork magic.”
  • Nasim Pedrad is so perfect in the little bit we get of her on this show. Her banter with Lamorne Morris is absolutely hilarious, especially the “smart cop, dumb cop” bit.
  • Nick thinks it’s called “Sax and the City,” and honestly nothing has ever made me happier in this show.
  • “We had a little will-they-won’t-they, then we did.” – Nick, on his relationship with Jess
  • “Good luck with your… ‘smush pain that feels like everything came out of a sandwich.’”
  • “I don’t want this anyway – some weird, friend-group shenanigan thing.”
  • THE UTERUS STRESS TOY THOUGH.
  • “She’s bisexual. That means she likes both men and women.” “I know what bisexual means.” “I can’t compete with that. That’s all the people!”
  • “I give you my trust. You’ve always had it.”
  • “Nick has a crush on a robber.”
  • Liz Meriwether’s cameo was SO perfect.
What did you all think of “Raegan” and the introduction of Megan Fox? Hit up the comments below and let me know, or tweet me!

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