Tuesday, February 21, 2017

New Girl 6x17 Review: "Rumspringa" (#Adulting)


"Rumspringa"
Orginal Airdate: February 21, 2017

I've talked about the phrase "adulting" before, right? I use it way too often in my daily life, but the sentiment behind the hashtag and phrase is essentially the notion that there are things about being an adult that are difficult. When you're a kid, all you want to do is grow up. And when you're a grown-up, all you want to do is return to the days before you had to file your taxes, or pay for health insurance, or worry about where you'll live and if you can afford to buy a home. One of my favorite things about New Girl — and something that comes up quite frequently — is the fact that it's a show about adults who are still learning how to be adults. Some of our favorite characters are emotionally stunted, and watching them navigate their day-to-day lives (the conflicts and the issues and the normal responsibilities included) is actually refreshing. This show reminds us that you don't have to have your whole life together just because you're an adult. And just because you're an adult doesn't mean you'll suddenly hit a milestone of "adulting" and the stop growing. There isn't a magical age in which we have everything figured out, and that's okay.

So when New Girl does an episode like "Rumspringa," which is not only funny but also really important in terms of character growth, it gives me hope that I can continue to learn and grow as an adult too.

"WE'RE ADULTS NOW. AND YOU CAN'T HANDLE ADULT PROBLEMS BY FORGETTING ABOUT THEM."


It's been WAY too long since we've had a story between Nick, Jess, and Schmidt. (Though "Parking Spot" will always be the pinnacle of quality and storytelling for this trio to me.) This week, the trio decides to spend the day together after Nick catches Jess freaking out about her new position. As you'll remember from last week's episode, Schmidt also received a promotion and will be starting his new job the following Monday. While Jess and Schmidt are thrilled that they're moving forward in their careers, Jess is the first to realize the gravity of the situation. It's one thing to want responsibility — it's another entirely to actually GET that responsibility.

Per usual, Jess channels all of her frenzied energy into a project. This time, it's her "principal blazer," which she bought years prior. Nick is the one to discover Jess in her panicked state, and he confronts Schmidt about helping her out. Though this isn't the last Nick/Jess interaction in the episode, I think it's really significant that "Rumspringa" was, thematically, about Nick being there for Jess. We've seen so much of the reverse lately: Jess putting aside her feelings and her own stuff in order to help and support Nick. This week was all about Nick noticing what Jess needed and trying his best to cheer her up. And the truth is, he doesn't always do everything right but Nick does so many things for Jess just because he cares about her. Even though we've only seen pining on Jess' end, I feel like this was the first episode in which we saw Nick take a step back toward Jess, not toward Reagan. (Which culminates in that final scene, which I'll talk about in a bit.)

Nick's plan is to distract Jess from her problems, so he and Schmidt take her to an old-timey Danish town in California called Solvang. Jess resists being there at first, but soon embraces the experience and distraction. Unfortunately for Schmidt, Jess planted the idea in his head that confidence can only get you so far in a new job. You can't skate by on just being confident; you have to have real plans and ideas. All of the sudden, Schmidt is beginning to freak out about his career path too. Why I love Nick/Schmidt/Jess stories so much is that you begin to recognize similarities between the characters you normally don't. Schmidt and Jess are usually pretty cartoonish in different ways, but "Rumspringa" highlighted the insecurities they both have of being in charge and making mistakes. Both Schmidt and Jess are planners — they map out their lives with color-coded Post-It notes. They dream of the future and they always strive to get to their next goal. Sometimes this leads them to become extremely controlling, compulsive individuals. But at their cores, Schmidt and Jess are this way because the unknown scares them. And they want to be prepared for what comes next.

(Nick, conversely, never really thinks about the whole "what comes next" thing until he's halfway through a decision or moment and then it's too late to really consider consequences or repercussions.)

But since Jess and Schmidt have worked hard to achieve their goals, the unknown now scares them. Once you accomplish a goal you've dreamed of for so long, what happens after? Well, for Jess and Schmidt what comes after is literally being locked in a distillery cellar with Nick (who brought them there to cheer them up and take their minds off stress). Since they're trapped in a cellar, however, Schmidt and Jess' anxieties are amplified and they try to find a way out.

And this triggers something within Jess, who — because of the confined space and added pressure — snaps at Nick for putting together a rumspringa to begin with. She snaps that they're not 20 anymore. Trying to run away from problems or distract yourself from them doesn't change the reality that they're THERE. You have to face your problems when you're an adult. You can't run away. It's a moment of intensity for Jess, since it's been a long time since these two have had a real fight. But behind every Nick and Jess fight there is a revelation...

NICK MILLER IS A GROWN-UP NOW


I've always loved Nick Miller. He used to be, as Schmidt said, a "chubby, damaged flower." His relationship with Caroline really affected him, but he moved on. He dated again, fell in love again, got hurt again, and learned how to move forward with his life — even in the areas that scared him most. His relationship with Jess set him on that path, but I think it's his relationship with Reagan that is pushing him to be the man that Jess fell in love with in the first place. He owns a bar. He finished his novel. He moved to New Orleans for the summer. He made real, actual changes in his life. And even though some things in his life have stayed the same (like his room), many others have actually changed for the better. After their fight, Nick tells Jess and Schmidt that he's a child and needs to grow up.

But Jess is quick to correct him, telling him that he's matured more than he realizes. When the group manages to free themselves from the cellar (thanks to Schmidt's quick-thinking and improvisation, which helps him realize he's ready to face his new job after all), and they arrive at Jess' school, the woman still can't bring herself to get out of the car. Instead, she sits and she worries, and Nick asks to speak to her alone. When Schmidt leaves, Nick tells Jess that he understands why she's scared: there's no clear path ahead of her now that she's reached a goal that's been ten years in the making. It's okay to be scared. But Nick tells Jess that he's genuinely excited to see what happens next. It might be a small wink and nod to the Nick/Jess fandom of (what I think will be) upcoming developments for these two. But even if it's not, it's still a sweet moment of Nick expressing how much he believes in Jess and roots for her. It's been a while since I've seen this side of Nick Miller and I've gotta say, I've missed it.

When Jess leaves the car, now encouraged by Nick's speech (and THE ADORABLE BLAZER HE HAD MADE FOR HER), she turns around and encourages him in return, saying that she likes his room the way it is. It's got a style all its own — a Nick Miller style.

"Rumspringa" was a great episode that reminded us that we can never stop growing up. We're constantly learning new things and achieving new goals. And then, once we get to the end of our "path," it's time to forge a new one.

And now, bonus points:
  • I didn't really talk about it above, because it wasn't the best B-plot, but Rhonda returns in this episode to prank Winston and Aly. Ultimately, the storyline ends with Aly pranking Rhonda and earning her respect — and then Rhonda getting the final prank when signing her divorce papers. Overall, the story was okay. It was a good way to tie up some loose plot-related ends, and it's always nice to see Nasim Pedrad flex her comedy chops as more than just the "straight man" of the group.
  • "Welcome, everyone, to Big Dinner: where the news is big, and the dinner is normal-sized."
  • "You're not supposed to SAY 'ding ding ding' when you ding ding ding."
  • "We're not having a frikkin' leprechaun debate right now. We'll be here for HOURS." I love Schmidt so much. Have I mentioned that lately?
  • I almost cried laughing at the flashback to Nick being left in an abandoned daycare.
  • "She's got a real cat-in-the-bathtub vibe."
  • I love so much that Schmidt refers to "rumspringa" as "boy ride."
  • INTRO TO ENVIRONMENTAL FEMINISM.
  • Rhonda has returned and she's crazy as always.
  • "No disrespect, Aly, but that's basic." "Okay, that's very disrespectful."
  • Zooey Deschanel ripping the bird out of the cuckoo clock (and Jake Johnson and Max Greenfield's reactions) was so inexplicably hilarious to me that I laughed really loud.
  • I can't emphasize how adorable that final Nick/Jess exchange really was. I'm totally a fan of Jess encouraging Nick, but I love it even more when Nick gives her a pep talk she needs (like in "The Last Wedding" or "Menzies" or this episode).
What did you all think of this week's episode? Sound off in the comments below!

5 comments:

  1. Nick didn't make the blazer for Jess. He bought/stole it to make into a pillow for his room to impress Reagan.

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    1. Exactly, making it even better, because in the end he decided that making Jess happy means more to him than changing his room (and who he is) for Reagan.

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    2. He bought it for his room and decided it does suit to Jess more.

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    3. Whoops! My bad. I knew he had gotten the fabric for his room originally but it was murky between him getting the fabric and having it turned into a blazer...

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    4. It was always a jacket, Nick asked if she could turn it into a throw pillow for him then gave it to her instead.

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