Thursday, January 28, 2016

New Girl 5x04 "No Girl" (Classic Cece and Winston Mess Around)

"No Girl"
Original Airdate: January 26, 2016

When New Girl first began, Jessica Day was a little cartoonish. The show wasn’t sure how “wacky” they should write the titular character, so she ended up being some sort of awkwardly singing, bright-color wearing, voice-creating roommate that no one in real life would ever want to be friends with. She brought false teeth to a wedding to wear, and she didn’t seem to easily pick up social cues. I think that the writers must have been fully aware of this fatal flaw, because quite quickly, the show transitioned Jess from some goofy, aloof woman to a fully-realized, though slightly quirky one. And the best thing that the show did was allow the other characters within the loft to become a bit sillier, too. The show wasn’t funny when it was about Jess being the odd woman in a loft full of completely normal, rational, sane men. It became funny when it realized that Nick, Winston, Schmidt (and Coach when he returned) were really weird, too. The show leveled the playing field which made Jess’ oddities seem less crazy and allowed the other characters to shine, comedically.

Over the years, New Girl has evolved from a show about a woman who moves in with guys she met on Craigslist because of a bad break-up to a show about a group of friends who are just trying to figure out how to deal with life in their 30s. It’s become a true ensemble, with Jess still at the center, but not always the focus. This week’s episode titled “No Girl” was the first without Jess physically present and honestly? It was a fantastic episode because it allowed the other characters to shine (and also because the show reminded us of Jess’ absence in a good, plot and character-progressing way).

So let’s talk about the episode, shall we?


I’m going to spend the majority of the time talking about two characters who generally get less screentime than the others: Cece and Winston. In the absence of Jess (and Coach, since his departure at the end of last season), these two get the opportunity to have a story together. And it is SO great. Hannah Simone and Lamorne Morris have this amazingly underrated comedy whenever they’re together. Winston’s exuberance paired with Cece’s sarcasm always proves to be a hilarious combination and this week was no exception. When Winston is convinced that KC is cheating on him because she posted a photo of herself with a cute guy from work, he doesn’t know what to do. And here is where the crux of the story is found — Winston would go to Jess with all of his girl problems. With her gone, he’s not exactly sure what he should do.

And Cece decides that she can totally fill in and be a Jess substitute. Which... Winston and I had the same reaction to. Because Cece is not Jess, and that’s what makes her so hilarious. It’s also why she and Jess have been best friends for as long as they have. Jess is nurturing and Cece is more hardened and bold and stoic. Jess can be wishy-washy, and Cece toughens her up. Similarly, sometimes Cece needs to be told that what she’s doing is wrong (“Cece Crashes”) or hurtful (“Models”) and Jess is the one who can do that because she is sweet and caring. Cece is a model-turned-student-slash-bartender and Jess is a teacher-turned-vice-principal. They have two separate personalities, but Cece insists on trying to play Jess. She’s really, REALLY bad at it.

Because — as I said above — the best part about Cece is that she is not Jess. But she also cannot be completely and totally Cece in this situation either. When she does that (and tells Winston to get back at KC by taking photos with her and posting them), Winston’s girlfriend breaks up with him. Okay, and can I just pause here to say that in 2016, I would really like Winston to meet a nice girl who doesn’t cheat on him. Because I would really love that. I think that the insight though that we gain into Winston’s character in this episode is just as important as the insight we gain into Cece.

Winston is soft. He’s sweet and he’s good and he’s often very na├»ve. And people take advantage of him because of that — because he doesn’t say everything he feels and he’s not blunt. Though Jess is a good friend and a supportive one, it actually is beneficial that she’s absent. Because Jess has the tendency to coddle people and talk about feelings and wax poetic about how they’ll eventually find the right person. Winston didn’t need Jess in this episode. He needed Cece.

Funnily though, Cece trying to play Jess and not herself is what hurts Winston the most. She is only able to help him when she stops trying to be Jess and tries to be herself. Unfortunately for Cece, Winston misunderstands what she means and decides that he needs to go make KC cry the way that he did. In true Cece and Winston fashion, the plan involves Cece telling KC that Winston died. She’s very non-committal in her delivery of this “news,” until she realizes that KC was cheating on Winston. Because for as much as she tries to be the uncaring, brash member of the loft crew, Cece cares deeply about those around her and she protects them. And when she realizes that KC really did hurt Winston, she wants to hurt her right back.

Cece and Winston had this brilliantly-executed story and they bonded in a way that they wouldn’t have been able to, had Jess been around. I’m hopeful that we will see more of this in the future, too.


In our B-story (although it might have been the A-story — honestly, the two were paced really well so I genuinely don’t know which story had more screentime, though I suspect it was Nick/Schmidt), Nick is trying to plan Schmidt’s bachelor(s) party, and wants to do something special for his best friend that involves the guys flying to Japan. There’s only one slight hiccup, and that’s the fact that Nick is really, REALLY poor. But he has the perfect plan in place in order to earn the money: renting out the rooms in the loft.

This, of course, spectacularly backfires on him when the people he rents out rooms too are horrible. There’s a struggling “writer” (played by Fred Armisen), as well as a couple and their daughter, and an Asian woman (with whom Nick cultivates a brief physical relationship). If you think that Schmidt is horrified by this, you would be correct. And the reason that he’s horrified is because the bachelor(s) party would be easily funded — if only the two men let their horrible friend Todd plan and pay for the Vegas bachelor(s) party he had wanted to do.

Nick is adamant that they don’t succumb to Todd’s party, and it’s a lovely little storyline about how Nick wants to be the best man and friend for Schmidt that he can be. Unfortunately for Nick, he feels like he’s constantly coming up short in that department — Schmidt is the one who plans grand things in their friendship (“Tinfinity”) and Nick often struggles to try and reciprocate. Though Schmidt is often self-absorbed and into things, the best part about him as a character is that when it comes down to it, he would rather be with people he cares about and have a low-key party than be around someone he despises and have an awesome one. I love that Schmidt has grown over the years and his constant caring about Nick is one of the foundations of this show.

Though this story was good, I felt like New Girl leans a lot on Nick and Schmidt stories to carry episodes because they’re fail-safes. Jake Johnson and Max Greenfield have a hilarious repartee and it’s easy for the show to write stories with just the two of them because they always work. I would love to see more variety in the stories in Jess’ absence though (we haven’t had a strictly Winston/Schmidt story in a while, have we?).

Still, that is the most minor of critiques of a really solid episode. New Girl has proven through “No Girl” that although Jess is absent, she’s not really gone, and the loft members can — and will — be fine in her absence.

Additional de-lovely aspects about this episode include:
  • I love that the show let us see Jess in the beginning without us actually seeing her. That courtroom sketch of her annoying the other jurors is hilarious because OF COURSE SHE WOULD.
  • Nick constantly referring to it as a “bachelors party” is so great.
  • “How does anybody pay for anything?” “... But seriously, how are we paying for this?” #gpoy
  • Fred Armisen was SO great.
  • “Are you insane?” “... I don’t think so, no.”
  • Liz Meriwether directed this episode! She did a great job.
  • “How do you drive your car and not hit people?!” The entire gag of Nick getting distracted by something shiny and finding a spoon in his room was so understated and so perfect.
  • Let’s talk about how Lamorne Morris’ wailing had me laughing so hard that I literally snorted.
  • “WATER AND LEAVES. WATER AND LEEEEEEEAVES.” I don’t know why, but the fact that Cece doesn’t know how to make tea is hilariously in-character for her.
  • “You beak-handed moron!”
  • “We’re gonna make a girl cry today!”
What did you all think of “No Girl”? Let me know in the comments below!

1 comment:

  1. Okay but a pretzel falling out of Nick's pants and honestly disturbing him had me laughing so hard I cried