Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New Girl 5x17/5x18 Review: "Road Trip" & "A Chill Day In" (Two Parties)

"Road Trip" & "A Chill Day In"
Original Airdate: April 26, 2016

One of the primary reasons that I love New Girl is that it often explores the dynamics between men and women, highlighting their similarities and their differences. It's a show that has stellar episodes like "Menzies" and "Eggs" and "Girl Fight." It's a comedy that deals with how different men and women actually are, and how they can learn about each other and grow from that knowledge. Some of my favorite episodes are ones in which New Girl highlights the differences between its characters. But on the other hand, some of my favorite episodes of the series are also the ones in which the show reminds us that men and women may approach their fears and emotions differently, but that they deal with them no less. In both "Road Trip" and "A Chill Day In," Schmidt and Cece face their fears about marriage. And actually, their fears about marriage stem from their fears that they won't be good enough spouses to one another. What both episodes serve to remind us of is the fact that these characters need one another and sometimes need hard truths, spoken in love. Nick is the one to deliver a "Winger speech" (for those of you who ever watched Community) to Schmidt and Jess is the one to deliver an equally rousing speech to Cece. And while a lot of these episodes is spent highlighting characters' insecurities, it also highlights what makes Schmidt and Cece great friends and people.

Full disclosure: I loved both of these episodes. I actually enjoyed "A Chill Day In" more as a standalone episode, but think that the two paired together excellently. I'm also impressed that this was the first set of episodes in the series that isolated the characters by gender. We've had tons of stories where the women share screentime and the men stand alone in the A or B-plot, but this was unprecedented for New Girl to have two separate episodes devoted to each gender, and they worked flawlessly.


In the first half hour, the boys decide to embark on a road trip to Las Vegas for Schmidt's bachelor party. It's because Nick screwed up their trip to Tokyo, but it's mostly — as he reveals later on — because Schmidt wants to do manly things and prove he can take care of his future wife. What I really loved about this story, apart from the fact that it isolated the men and allowed them to have some hilarious bonding (with our favorite groomsmen guest stars, too!) was the fact that it seemed like it would be shenanigan-heavy, Hangover-style plot. And while some of that is true, the motivation behind Schmidt acting macho is actually really impressive. We've always known Schmidt to be confident in who he is. This is the guy who wears kimonos, has hair chutney, and wears driving moccasins.

Schmidt is an amazing character, but he's definitely not the first person who comes to mind when I hear the word "macho." And when the person who cuts him off in traffic accosts his car while Cece is in it, something shifts within Schmidt and he becomes terrified that he will be unable to protect or provide for his wife in the way that men are supposed to. So he tries to do all of the stereotypical macho things he can think of — he plans to go to Las Vegas; he and Nick rent motorcycles; the two enter a bar and drink whisky; they get into a bar fight. While Nick is hesitant to agree to fight the strangers in the bar that the two accidentally insulted, once he realizes that it's something that stems from Schmidt's insecurities, he's all in. Nick and Schmidt have one of the most beautiful relationships on television. They really do. Because they're SO vastly different in the way they act, think, and speak. But ultimately, they have each others' backs throughout everything. Every time Schmidt needed a pick-me-up, Nick wrote him a letter from Michael Keaton ("Keaton"). Whenever Schmidt was upset, Nick was there to lift his spirits in the way only he could ("Tinfinity"). The two are business partners, best friends, and closer than some siblings are.

But the best part about Schmidt and Nick's relationship is that they're always willing to tell each other the truth. Schmidt could only pretend to be macho for so long. Eventually, Nick confronted him and told him that he would make a great husband for Cece. Why? Because Schmidt has been a great "husband" to Nick. Here's what's so great about these two stories though: Schmidt is seeking validation and typical "manliness," while in the other story, Cece is seeking typical femininity (being able to provide for a husband and do the things women should know how to do).

And what's so genius about New Girl is that they flip these archetypes on their heads. At the end of "Road Trip," Schmidt realizes that what will make him a great husband is how loving, caring, and willing to care for Cece he actually is. It's not being manly that makes a husband great — it's being a provider and a listener and a supporter. It's being gentle and a fighter and always willing to listen. As Nick rattles off these attributes, I found myself getting really emotional. Because men are told so often that in order to be good husbands, they need to be tougher or stronger or more macho. But New Girl brilliantly reminded us that the thing that makes great spouses is often their ability to be a great listener and a partner.

Elsewhere in "Road Trip," Winston is trying to get over his feelings for Aly but that's not working out too well for him. Instead, he receives a text from Jess that says Aly broke up with her jerk of a boyfriend! After a hilariously wonderful outdoor bar fight (complete with "Roar" by Katy Perry), the men return home, just in time to catch up on the girls' bachelorette festivities...



I absolutely love stories that involve Jess and Cece. Between "Cece Crashes," "Models," "Girl Fight," and more, it always feels refreshing for New Girl to take a break from the shenanigans of the ensemble and focus solely on these two women and their friendship. And what's truly great is that "A Chill Day In" was a story that had very little Nick/Schmidt/Winston involvement until the end. This was a story about Jess and Cece getting high, beating up a bread-maker, and getting thrown into mall jail. If it sounds absurd, it's because it is a little. If it sounds hilarious, you would be correct. Arguably, this episode had more humor than "Road Trip," though the former probably had just a dash more heart.

What I said above rings true in this episode as well. New Girl was brilliant in flipping gender archetypes on their heads. While Schmidt learns that being a good husband doesn't mean being macho, Cece learns that being a good wife doesn't necessarily mean being a provider. Schmidt is going to be the provider in their marriage, but Cece is going to be the "big scary mama bear," to borrow Jess' phrase. She is going to be the fierce protector. See how cool that is? Those gender roles are flipped and it works SO well. It is utterly refreshing to see a show on television that doesn't tell men they have to be manly to be valued, or that women have to be good homemakers to be good wives.

How does Jess reach this conclusion, though? Through observing the way that Cece protects the people she cares about. Most of the episode is silly and hilarious in its silliness — the girls bash in the bread-maker, try to return it, discover that they cannot, then steal the floor model of the bread-maker with Aly unwittingly helping them do so. In the midst of all of this silliness, Cece is worried that Schmidt's mom (the person who send the gift with an extremely condescending note) is right and that she'll never be able to provide for Schmidt or their inevitable family. Jess, in spite of being inebriated, reminds Cece of the times where she has protected her. That, Jess argues, is what being a good wife means. A good wife is one who cares about her family enough to do anything if that family is threatened. Cooking is not a requirement to be a good spouse, and Cece feels a little more at ease with who she is and what kind of spouse she will be at the end of the episode.

(Elsewhere in the episode, Aly accidentally helps the girls steal the bread-maker, which lands her in mall jail where she, Cece, and Jess break out. Shortly thereafter, Jess tells Aly that Winston likes her, and Aly tells Jess that she never broke up with her boyfriend. Winston and Aly do kiss, though, at the end of the episode and it's totally sweet and satisfying. I love those two dorks together.)

"Road Trip" and "A Chill Day In" were both stellar installments in what is shaping up to be one of New Girl's best seasons yet. I'm so looking forward to the remainder of the season as we quickly approach Schmidt and Cece's wedding. 

(P.S. I'm also really looking forward to hopefully learning Schmidt's real name.)

Additional de-lovely aspects about the episode include:
  • The shot of Schmidt and Nick on their motorcycles for the first time had me cackling, I kid you not.
  • I've come to pick out actors' voices so well that I can tell when they're sick. "Tinfnity" is one episode where Jake Johnson was sick and "Road Trip" is definitely another.
  • "Oh, these people are reeeeeeeeeal desert-y."
  • "My favorite kind of white people are redheads with high socks: male or female." 
  • I have no idea what Dirt Boy is, but I sincerely hope he makes a reappearance at some point.
  • Seriously, that slow-motion fight to "Roar" was one of the greatest things this show will ever do.
  • All of the men are wearing their groomsmen rings and it's absolutely adorable. Also, Robbie has returned (as well as Big Schmidt), and his storyline about still being in love with Cece was great. Also, Robbie is just great.
  • "I like to call it giggle dirt."
  • "Hey!... Remember Coach? Where is he?" SO GREAT. SO GREAT.
  • Any form of inebriated Jess is the most hilarious Jess. Seriously, Zooey Deschanel was on fire in this episode.
  • I cannot articulate how great the appearance of Nadia was in this episode, including her Russian nesting doll grenade. And kettle corn. (Or quettle corn if you're a Community fan.)
  • I wish I could tell you how long I giggled at that "feel like baking love" gag, but suffice it to say that it was close to a solid minute.
  • "You're a big scary mama bear."
  • I cackled way too hard at Winston's "Police Navidad."
  • WINSTON AND ALY KISSED. It cannot be stated enough.
  • I'm pretty sure this show is still setting us up for a Nick/Jess resolution, or at least a wedding hook-up. Did you see their faces during that final scene?
What did you all think of the dueling bachelor and bachelorette parties? Hit up the comments below and let me know! Until then. :)

1 comment:

  1. What a great couple of episode! They both combined serious heart with some hilarious hijinks. I laughed so much and it was also deeply moving.

    I'm glad the show can explore some serious anxieties about getting married without having to break a couple up or go overboard. You can be sure you want to get married to someone and also completely freaked out that you'll mess up all at the same time. I suppose it is comforting to know that you will certainly mess up a lot but that doesn't mean the end of a relationship. It is often just the next hurdle to overcome together. I think it is so great that Cece and Schmidt have these close friends that they can talk with about their deepest fears, friends who know them so well and have been witness to all the ways they will be great in their future relationships all because they have been so great as friends. Beautiful. They have matured and developed Cece and Schmidt in such an amazing way without losing any of the crazy uniqueness that made us love them in the first place.

    I agree that inebriated Jess is hilarious. I've never been inebriated myself but Deschanel killed it! And when Nick said "I missed High Jess? Does this mean I have to wait another 10 years?" I was like 'You looooooove her'. Subtle and beautiful character development on so many fronts.

    I was thrilled for Winston. He is absolutely the most caring and wonderful man. Of course he remembered her Copiversary or Police Navidad (awesome names man). And to see her realise that he remembered (as Winston always cares about those he loves) was beautiful. Just thinking of the other person is so powerful, way beyond any of the 'macho' stuff they were talking about in the boys' group. And I'm glad that he came right out and told her he was married and seemed so nonchalant that "It was a prank."

    Nadia is so great. I love seeing her anytime we can. She is so insane and hilarious and violent and kinda caring. love it and I loved that Robbie was just over Cece as soon as her saw her.

    I cannot explain how thrilled I was to see that both Jess and Cece are big fans of Anne of Green Gables. "A little AGG" I was so obsessed with that movie and those books as a kid. When Cece said she would destroy her life for Gilbert I was like 'Wouldn't we all, sister, wouldn't we all?'

    I kinda want Nick's love of redheads with high socks (so crazy) to be based on some childhood crush on Pippi Longstocking. I don't know why.

    This season is just killing it. I look forward to New Girl every week.