Tuesday, February 28, 2017

New Girl 6x18 Review: “Young Adult” (Princi-PAL)


“Young Adult”
Orginal Airdate: February 28, 2017

In the world of New Girl, there have always been a few constants. You can assume that Schmidt will always raise his voice in a panic over something absurd that someone says. Cece will always roll her eyes at something that happens. Winston will always reference his cat or Aly or latch onto some silly cause/get himself into a silly scenario. When it comes to Nick and Jess, it’s a constant theme that they’re opposites. Jess was a nerd when she was younger, and Nick was a cool kid. Jess is Type-A to a fault, and Nick would rather live life by anything other than a plan. Jess is a rule-follower and Nick is typically a rule-breaker. 

As we covered in last week’s episode, Jess is nervous to begin her job as a principal. It was different when she was vice-principal — there was always someone higher than her that she could default to for issues or blame. Now, the buck stops with her and it’s a little scary. Especially because “Young Adult” depicts a very different school than Jess knew as vice-principal. Now that she’s in charge, students aren’t as cordial with her and—we know, because she’s Jess — this bothers her. Elsewhere in the episode, Winston and Cece prepare to have one last messaround as they pack up boxes for Schmidt and Cece’s move, while Schmidt gets a new assistant who is a little TOO eager to please.


P.J. AND PEPPERWOOD


It’s been a fair amount of time since we’ve had a true Nick/Jess story without involving Reagan or another character. In a callback to both of their prominent character traits, Jess enlists Nick’s help on being cool with her students once she discovers a few of the most popular girls reading “The Pepperwood Chronicles.” Because he would do pretty much anything for her, Nick agrees. But he has an ulterior motive — he’s got writer’s block and is hopeful that hearing about what the girls like will give him ideas (or that they’ll literally just tell him plots he should create). For Jess, this is an opportunity to assert her “coolness” among the students and for Nick, it’s a chance to get inspired.

When the girls meet Nick, they’re immediately fascinated by him (does anyone else love that it’s canon in the show that little girls LOVE Nick?), and they — in turn — provide insights they gleaned from the novel that even Nick didn’t intend to create. Meanwhile, Jess is proud and thrilled that she’s earned points with the coolest girls in school. She earns even more points, however, when Nick goes to leave and tells her that he’ll see her at home.

Aside: I’m not sure entirely why — perhaps because it felt so domestic—this little line got my Nick/Jess heart pitter-pattering. It was cute.

The girls then discover (thanks to Nick revealing it) that Nick and Jess live together and used to be in love. Suddenly, the fact that Jess has an intimate connection with Nick apart from friendship makes the principal even cooler. Jess has scored even more points. And therein lies the problem. The girls decide to nickname her “P.J.” (for Principal Jess), and declare that they’re going to blow off their next responsibilities at school. The problem that Jess has in this episode stems from the fact that she, much like me, is a people-pleaser. Jess wants everyone to like her. Remember how she became determined to get Schmidt’s mom to befriend her?

Jess’ issue here, however, is that there are always lines that we choose to cross or obey when it comes to pleasing other people. What are we willing to do? In order to get these girls to like and respect her as a principal, Jess has to pretend to be their friend. But in doing so, she’s sacrificing her authority — they see her as “cool” but not “in charge.” Eventually in the episode, Jess snaps. It’s because the girls get a little TOO chummy with her and curse at her. It’s then that Jess realizes her priorities have been out of order: being a principal doesn’t mean she has to be liked. She just has to run her school to the best of her ability. She needs to make it a place where education is first, and being liked by her students comes second. The gaggle of girls feel bad for the way that they treated Jess and approach her at the episode’s end with a group apology and a gift card for a coffee place. One of the girls says something eerily familiar, and Jess confronts Nick.

In an absolutely sweet turn of events, Nick used his relationship with the girls to get them to apologize and do something nice for Jess. Again: we’re so used to seeing Nick do this that I’m glad we’ve gotten balances of Nick and Jess doing sweet things for one another this season. But this takes the cake as far as nice moments recently. It’s wonderful that Nick realized how important being a principal is, and how hard it can be. It’s not easy for Jess to accept that she can’t be friends with everyone and the fact that Nick had the girls do something special for Jess speaks volumes to her and to me. 

I could be wrong here, and I really hope I’m not, but it seems like the end of this season might see a reconciliation for Nick/Jess fans after all.


CAT CALLING


Winston is helping Cece pack up her and Schmidt’s stuff to move into the new house. It’s a bittersweet moment because this is the last messaround they’ll have together while she’s living in Apartment 4D. I don’t know when New Girl decided to really commit to Winston and Cece being friends and having shenanigans, but I’m totally all for it. These two are fun to watch. This week, a messaround involves Winston. A crazy cat lady neighbor claims that Furguson is her cat, and Winston is totally baffled by this. It looks like his little kitty has been two-timing him. The neighbor, Gill, tells Winston that the cat is actually named “Sweatshirt” and has been living with her for a year. 

Packing is essentially out the window by this point, because Winston and Cece decide to tag-team an effort to prove that Furguson is actually Winston’s cat. It’s decided that Winston and Gill will each try to call Furguson over and whoever he willingly goes to will be the person who takes care of him. After Cece tries to cheat by sticking a crab leg in her pocket to lure over Furguson (genius, by the way), her true motives are revealed: she’s upset about the fact that Winston will be alone once she moves out. And if the cat leaves him too, he’ll really be alone. These two have such a sweet, random friendship don’t they? It works so well!

In the end, Furguson decides to return to Winston, who feels bad that Gill lost her cat. He agrees to share “cat-stody” (and then nearly-immediately backtracks on that). I like the fact that this week’s Winston/Cece story was light on the shenanigans and heavy on the emphasis of how much closer Winston and Cece have gotten over the years. They’re more than just prank buddies — they’re actually friends who are going to miss one another. Aww.

SCHMIDT’S GOT A CREEPY ASSISTANT


Okay, maybe “creepy” is the wrong word. He’s just overeager. Actually... that’s not true. Jeremy is creepy. He is essentially what would exist if Schmidt could create a robot executive assistant for himself. Jeremy anticipates Schmidt’s every need, thinks through solutions quickly and logically, and does his job efficiently. So efficiently, in fact, that Schmidt is essentially rendered useless at one point in time during the episode. He even offers to help Winston and Cece help pack because he’s that bored.

When Schmidt confronts Jeremy about his behavior, we get a rare moment of Schmidt’s priorities: even though he’s made work and his new promotion a goal for so long, there are more important things in life than work. This isn’t something we would have heard from Schmidt a few years ago. Remember how he was so consumed with rising in his career that he was willing to sacrifice his old friends to make newer, cooler ones (“Prince”)? I love how far Schmidt has come, and I love the fact that he has realized that his job isn’t everything — but it does have its perks to get a robot assistant who cares only about work.

“Young Adult” was a fun New Girl episode that focused on the fact that we don’t have to have it all together in order to be adults and that sometimes having fun needs to be shelved in order to be a leader.

Funny bits and pieces:
  • I love that Jess has a “Lunch with Your Princi-PAL” campaign.
  • Schmidt yelling at Nick in the kitchen literally gave me flashbacks to him yelling, “GIVE ME THE SPOT OR I’LL KILL YOU ALL” in “Parking Spot.”
  • I absolutely loved Nick, Jess, Schmidt, and Cece yelling at one another over the last little bit of coffee. It felt so organic — like it’s something they do every week.
  • “This ain’t nothin’ but the devil’s water.” I CRIED LAUGHING.
  • “It’s like I’m living in my own damn adorable shadow.”
  • “I’ll see you at home.” I don’t know why, but that particular line gave me some Nick/Jess feelings.
  • “Because caring? That is the real messaround!”
  • “You always come through for me, Jess. To the upmost.” “I assure you, it’s ‘utmost.’”
What did you all think of this week’s episode? Sound off in the comments below!

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