Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Girl 6x11 Review: "Raisin's Back" (Jess in the Middle)

"Raisin's Back"
Original Airdate: January 3, 2016

I don't usually get into fights with my friends or family (chalk it up to the fact that I'm non-confrontational), but what generally happens is something worse: I get stuck in the middle of two people fighting. You probably have experienced this awkwardness at some point in your life — two people you know get into an argument and you become the designated neutral party. That doesn't, of course, stop these people from trash-talking the other person to you, or ask for your opinion on the fight. Soon enough, you become the messenger, relaying what one person said to the other. I was always that person — in middle-school, in high-school, and even through adulthood. Jessica Day finds herself being that person, against her wishes, in "Raisin's Back" when Nick and Reagan get into a fight.

And if there's one place Jess doesn't want to be, it's in Nick and Reagan's relationship.


I always say this, but I think Nick and Jess will eventually get back together. Unlike some other seasons, however, I'm totally okay with the pair not being together quite yet. Furthermore, I think that Reagan is the best partner for Nick (apart from Jess) we have seen on the show. He's experienced more character growth because of her, and both are actually complex people because of their relationship. But with Reagan moving into the loft and Jess still dealing with complex feelings for Nick, the loft was bound to be an awkward place. In a mature move, Jess decides in this episode to stay out of any gossip about Nick and Reagan's relationship and to really just stay as far away from them as possible. She's cordial (I absolutely LOVE the fact that Jess and Reagan have inside jokes with one another, because Reagan is a lot more fun and sentimental than she lets on), but she doesn't meddle. That's totally not who Jess is at all. (Obviously, this is a joke and Hannah Simone plays the disbelief on Cece's face perfectly.)

Unfortunately for Jess, it doesn't matter if she wants to stay out of drama — the drama finds her anyway. Nick's plan for Reagan's arrival is to play everything cool. He doesn't want to smother her with a welcome, or make a big deal out of the fact that she's moved in. He wants to keep everything casual, or else he fears she will bolt. Jess and Cece think this is a terrible idea, and Reagan isn't a fan of it either. But there's more than that: when Jess and Reagan have a girls' night, she reveals a secret to Jess. She has a secret apartment.

What comes next, obviously, is a series of events in which Jess tries to force Nick and Reagan to tell one another their secrets (Reagan's being the aforementioned apartment, while Nick's being that he lied and said he had to pick up a bar shift to avoid spending too much time with Reagan and, again, scaring her off). Try as she might, though, Nick and Reagan both feel more comfortable confiding in Jess and making her the messenger than they do hashing their issues out in-person with one another.

It's a fine game of "Jess in the middle" until she forces them to sit down and air their grievances. The two fight, of course, but end up admitting the reasoning for their behavior. Reagan was scared and wanted a back-up plan in case living with Nick failed. She obviously kept it a secret because she didn't want to hurt him, and still wanted to have a safety net. Nick confesses that he was scared if he came on too strong, Reagan would bolt. He knows she's a freer spirit than he is, and I think deep down Nick is afraid that Reagan will leave him. There's so much there to explore, but what I really admire is that Nick is growing and learning in his relationship with Reagan. She's forcing him out of his comfort zone, and encouraging him to be bolder. She's always done that — ever since "Heat Wave," where she insisted that Nick tell her how he really feels. And I think that Nick, in turn, reminds Reagan that creating a life and a network of people who care about you is a good thing. Rather than running from place to place, Reagan is here to stay (for now) — comfortable in familiarity rather than alone in her desire to run.

I liked the resolution of this storyline and that we got to see more of Nick and Reagan's insecurities explored in "Raisin's Back." I'm even a fan of the way Jess was integrated into the story and am hopeful that the three characters will have more scenes together as the season progresses.


I absolutely love the way New Girl has developed the friendship between Winston and Cece. They're such fun characters on their own, but there's something about the energy they have (and the fact that Winston's humor is so silly, it gives Cece the chance to roll her eyes at him a lot) that's just so enjoyable. In "Raisin's Back," their target is Schmidt. After the jukebox goes out at the bar, Schmidt volunteers to play music from his iPod, to the pair's chagrin. They hate Schmidt's choice in music, which mostly just includes EDM. While Schmidt waxes poetic about how superior EDM is and how great it is, Winston and Cece make a bet: they'll let him play whatever he wants to at the bar if — and only if — he can decipher the difference between an EDM track and a track that Winston and Cece put together themselves.

The bet is on, and Winston (with Cece's help) perfects the track. Upon playing the first few seconds of it to Schmidt, he tells them that it's a song from Avicii. Winston and Cece are thrilled, because they tricked him and got their way. But this little prank sends Schmidt into a spiral of self-reflection: does he even have good taste? Has he ever had good taste?

(At this point, upon watching Schmidt spiral, Winston and Cece realize they might have gone too far.)

The episode ends with Winston and Cece telling Schmidt that everyone in their group enjoys weird things. Winston eats onions like apples. Cece still rocks an out-of-style Planet Hollywood jacket. But that's okay, because they've embraced who they are and what they like. Even if it's weird to other people.

"Raisin's Back" reminded us that we all have issues, but at the end of the day, the best friends and loved ones are those who accept us for them, rather than in spite of them.

And now, bonus points:
  • I enjoyed this episode back, even though the B-story felt a little oddly paced and placed in the episode. I'm not generally a fan of episodes where a major plot has little to no point to character arcs and development, and the Winston/Cece/Schmidt plot bordered on that (the point seemed to be that everyone should like what they like and not be judged for it). Nevertheless, it was a FUN plot and so I'm giving it points for that.
  • "You are having a straight-up anxiety attack right now."
  • "Not loving this dynamic." "We don't care." I love that Winston and Cece now have a secret handshake and that Schmidt doesn't understand their relationship dynamic. It's so great.
  • "Have fun looking like idiots, you morons."
  • The scene with Jess and Cece gagging was hilarious. Hannah Simone and Zooey Deschanel have such a fun chemistry that it's great to see them do physical bits together.
  • "Take a breath. Think of Michelle Obama." "She's so strong."
  • "My brain is a smoking wreckage and I'm trying to find the black box."
  • Meagan Fox as drunk!Reagan is fantastic.
  • Schmidt being unsure of how to pluralize Calvin Harris' name is great.
  • "Are cargo shorts gorgeous? Was I wrong about rubber awareness bracelets? Should I grow a goatee?"
  • "We just do things sometimes. I never understand it either." That's it. That's the show.
  • "This is my life now?" "Yup. Welcome home."
What did you think of Reagan's return? Sound off in the comments below!


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