Tuesday, October 4, 2016

New Girl 6x03 Review: "Single and Sufficient" (Confusing Feelings, Couples, and Camping)

"Single and Sufficient"
Original Airdate: October 4, 2016

I’m single and I have been for quite a few years now. And within the last nine months or so, I’ve started attending a small group for singles, hosted by my church. It’s been a really great experience, getting to know people and their stories. But it’s not a group where we’re expected to find our mates, necessarily. That isn’t the purpose. It’s to get to know people who are dealing with the same things that we are so that we feel less alone. One night during our group, we discussed what it was like being in our mid-twenties or early thirties and still unmarried. We talked about what our parents and our married friends have told us or asked us (“Don’t you want to get married?” “You need to just put yourself out there”) that come across, to them, as helpful but to us as hurtful.

Because the truth is that there’s a big difference between single people and married people. We think a little bit differently and we don’t have all of the same experiences. But married people were once single and sometimes the advice they give — while trying to be nice — is ultimately pretty destructive. A lot of us feel like sometimes those who are married are trying to “fix” our singleness, as if it was a problem. So this is all to say that I really related to Jess in this episode, appropriately titled “Single and Sufficient.”

When Jess decides to bring her singles group on a glamping outing with Cece and Schmidt and Winston and Aly, Schmidt tries to convince Jess — and everyone else in the group — that they don’t want to be single; what they really envy is couples in relationships. I absolutely loved Schmidt in this episode and Max Greenfield is an MVP for the hilarity that ensues on the trip. But what I loved more than Schmidt trying to drive Jess crazy or give Nick pep talks was how Jess responded to the trip and how she eventually responded to Schmidt and Cece, whose desire is for her to be in a happy relationship. I was definitely worried around the middle of the episode that it would take a trajectory I didn’t want it to take, but I’m happy to say that I have total faith in the New Girl writers, especially Kim Rosenstock who co-wrote this episode and has written (or co-written) some of the best episodes of the series to date.

So let’s talk more about what it’s like for Jess to be single, shall we?


I’m going to spend the vast majority of the time talking about the A-plot, because even though there were other stories (technically B and C-plots), the most important story is the one that happens between Schmidt, Cece, Jess, and Robbie. 

That's right — our favorite former foil for Schmidt has returned! After Nadia breaks up with him (in a most hilarious Nadia-esque fashion), apparently Robbie decided to form a singles group. When Jess tells Schmidt and Cece, they assume that it’s a group of people who are trying to find relationships with one another, or at least with other people. But Jess and Robbie are adamant that the group will become a place where singles can commit to staying single together. And the group’s members are committed to their motto “single and sufficient” as well. They don’t need partners in order to enjoy glamping, and Jess makes sure that Schmidt knows this.

What I really love right now is that New Girl is exploring the dynamic between newlyweds Schmidt and Cece and the rest of the loft. You’ve got Winston and Aly who are in a healthy, long-distance relationship; Nick who’s also in a long-distance relationship; and then Jess, who is single. It’s easy to understand where both Schmidt and Jess are coming from in the episode — Jess insists that she wants to be single, while Schmidt insists that she will eventually slip up and end up breaking her vow of singleness. And the object of Schmidt’s affection (that he hopes is the object of Jess’)? None other than Robbie.

I’ll stop right here and say that even as someone who loves Nick/Jess, I am totally aboard “Single and Sufficient” and its conclusion for one very simple reason: the writers consciously chose to show a conflicted Jess. Yes, she’s developed sort-of feelings for Robbie since they spend so much time together. And yes, she almost gave into those feelings. But the conversation between Jess and Schmidt and Cece near the episode’s conclusion is so important — Jess is not ready to date someone. And this is coming from a woman who, in her own words, loves love. She finds pairs of things adorable and she wants the sparks, the growing-old-together, and the butterflies again. I have no doubt that she does.

But she’s not ready to have them with anyone other than Nick. Not yet. Maybe not in the near future, even. And her acknowledgement of that fact and vocalization of her feelings for Nick is so important. Jess could have easily given into whatever confusing feelings she has for Robbie and New Girl could have gone there. But I’m so glad they didn’t (end scene aside because I squealed, I admit it; their awkward and the way Robbie looked at Jess was adorable) because if the show wants to rebuild Nick/Jess, which I suspect it does, it’s important to show the depth of Jess’ feelings this time around. She’s not going to date someone as a “quick-fix” or a distraction to get over the fact that Nick is with Reagan. She can’t do that, no matter how much she loves being in relationships.

That shows immense growth on Jess’ part, and a commitment to exploring these complicated feelings for Nick. She loves him, no doubt about it, and she doesn’t want to be less-than-genuine in a relationship with anyone right now.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that Jess doesn’t still feel a spark with Robbie. I think that it’s really interesting and timely that in a show where a lead female is still in love with her ex-boyfriend but also feeling things for another man, I keep hearing people on Twitter say that this is impossible in regards to Oliver/Felicity on Arrow.

(So many layers to these two relationships and parallels that I can’t even cover them right now, and this is about New Girl not a comic book television show, so.)

Circling back to Schmidt and Cece for a moment, I love the fact that they’re happy together and that they want Jess to feel the same way. I get that, because I see a lot of that play out in my own life and in the lives of people I am friends with. People who are in happy relationships want their single friends to find happiness. But Jess... Jess IS happy. And at the end of the episode, I think that Schmidt and Cece finally realize that. They take off their newlywed blinders long enough to realize that there isn’t anything wrong with Jess or the people in her singles group because they’re single.

They’ve just found happiness in something other than a relationship. And that doesn’t mean they won’t find love ever again, but for now, they’re content. The group slowly dissolves during the trip because Robbie and Jess project their feelings for one another and their confusion about them onto another potential couple in the group. Robbie, honestly, is so sweet and genuine that I hope we see him again. I wouldn’t mind if we did, though I suspect the show is going to stick to its guns and keep he and Jess as just friends for now. But Jess honestly needs another friend in her life that can understand exactly what she’s feeling and experiencing. No one else does, and it would be nice for her to be able to bond with someone — even if it would be difficult because he has feelings for her.

Which, I can’t lie, I actually really enjoyed. I loved that Cece was supportive and I loved that Schmidt was, too. I even love that Robbie and Jess had little moments throughout the episode, and a duet. I think that in another lifetime, those two would have worked well together. But you can’t help who you fall in love with, and Robbie is not that guy for Jess. It’ll always be Nick.

“Single and Sufficient” was another incredible installment of New Girl, proving that even six seasons in, the show can still be amazingly smart and insanely funny. I’m looking forward to more this season as we dive deeper into these close friends and their feelings for one another — whether romantic or platonic. Because this is a comedy that is not afraid to explore feelings, no matter how messy they may be. And for that, I am truly grateful.

And now, bonus points:
  • "Sleeping bags are for hobos and children."
  • "Do you want me to bring my retractable s'mores pole?" "Is that... the car antenna you've been putting in the dishwasher?"
  • "Emotionally, they may not be available. But socially, they're available as hell."
  • No notes. NO NOTES.
  • "We have our own motto: I'm Single, and I'm Sufficient!" "... That's... that's ISIS. You're asking people to join ISIS." I cackled at this. A lot. Like, a LOT.
  • "Do you guys want a PDF or one hundred individual JPEGs?" "... JPEGs."
  • The chapter in Nick's book being flawless is, quite honestly, one of the greatest things ever to happen in this show. After spending so many years as the butt of everyone's jokes for writing "half a novel about zombies" and misspelling the word "rhythm," Nick is a success... and it's driving him crazy. I seriously loved the story and the point of it — that Nick is scared that he's finally good at something. He doesn't know how to see himself as anything but a failure (something he tackled with Jess at the end of last season). He's finally good enough and Schmidt tells Nick that he has to own up to and face that fact. Nick's final scene with Schmidt is one of the greatest things ever, too, as Schmidt's alter-ego in Nick's novel is the evil villain.
  • "I've been hating music lately."
  • I've missed Zooey Deschanel singing on this show, and we got some of that in this episode, singing "Africa," no less.
  • Schmidt and Cece's plan to meet married couples is to go to a Norah Jones concert.
  • "Is he... kicking a puppy?"
What did you think of this week's New Girl? Hit up the comments below and let me know!

1 comment:

  1. Though I like the connection between Jess and Robbie, I want them to remain friends because I fear if they become a couple, it would feel like the whole thing is on borrowed time until Nick and Jess have their moment.