“Nothing brightens up a rainy day like a scotch tasting.” “…It’s not raining today. Hasn’t rained in months.” Oh I have missed you, New Girl.
To start off the new year, New Girl presents its title character with a question of career: should Jess keep teaching, or is it time to do something else? We live in a world where the average person will have more career changes than ever before. University students enroll without knowing what they’re really interested in, and people drop in and out of degrees, a theme perfectly personified by the New Girl group. In fact, of the gang, Jess is the one with the most career stability. She’s got a passion (for teaching) that other people will struggle to find. And these other people, we found out this week, are Winston and Cece.
Jess – magically in the center of a storyline, as I happened to ask for in the last recap – has been offered a job to be in charge of a fundraiser at the children’s museum; it’s something that she actually considers due to the dire situation at her school. And so, with twenty minutes to go before a decision has to be made (how meta), she turns to the boys for their advice…
…which, yeah, goes about as well as you would expect. The question turns introspective and the manchildren of New Girl tell Jess about how they got into their respective line of work.
In the first half of New Girl’s third season, the writers seemed obsessed with change (probably lest the show become stagnant after what had been a thrilling second season). But it all seemed a little too much, and turned Schmidt into a thoroughly unlikeable character. It’s hard to manage change in a sitcom, a style of show that demands recurring traits to keep fans happy, but also some forward momentum to keep things fresh. New Girl took its boys a little too far in the first half of the season, but tonight I was pleased to note that everyone was thoroughly loveable.
And a lot of that was due to the use of flashbacks. We finally see Winston’s mysterious basketball career in Latvia (complete with a leopard print hairstyle – the first of many bold hair choices) and a fat, happy, and incredibly sweet Schmidt candy striping (and then using that line from Notting Hill – the line– to sell Christmas trees. Christmas trees! I can’t tell you how happy that made me, as a fat guy, just standing in front of a short guy, telling him that I think we’ve found his tree.
Coach’s short run into becoming a coach was also featured (he was good at it, and so Ernie became Coach), and then, in an interesting trip, we get to see Nick’s decision behind becoming a bartender.
While Winston’s career turns out to be based off of non-decisions, and Schmidt’s an obsession with making money, Nick, like Jess, truly chose what he loved. (Cue beautiful flashback moments of Nick having dreads, and then wearing scarves at law school.) In a moment that meant more (at least to me) than the vaguely forced group scene from “Thanksgiving III,” we find out that Nick really, truly did choose to be a bartender. Nick’s lack of direction was a recurring theme in the first two seasons, but he never badmouthed his job, not really, and it’s because he actually kind of loves it. He passed the bar, and yet, he chose the other bar.
This week’s New Girl created a natural atmosphere of change. It even started a substantial plot line for Winston and – wait for it – Cece.
Cece turns up at the end of the night to affirm Jess’s decision to stay a teacher: it turns out that she was Jess’s first student, in the school library, after her dad had died, and Jess helped her with her reading. It was an incredibly sweet scene in an episode full of natural charm – and natural change, too. We see Cece starting her first shift at the bar (now that’s a better way for her to earn her screentime), and Winston quitting his job, in his first real career decision. (His first real decision, surely, was keeping Ferguson. But then again, who wouldn’t keep that flat-faced cutie.)
I’ve always thought that New Girl was a show about people in their thirties who were lost and trying to figure it out. But lately it keeps reminding me that, underneath all of their anxieties, Nick and Jess are pretty damn close to where they want to be. In the end, Jess makes the easier, but all in all more natural decision to stick with teaching – and the further options that might go along with that. And Nick? Well, he already made his decision, back in 1997, when he got behind that bar.
- Winston, as the beautiful everyman he is constantly, swirled his fifteen year old scotch and declared it “…Boozy.”
- Schmidt on Jess not being a teacher: “Well you have found my flabbergast button. And guess what: you’ve pushed it.”
- Coach has his passions too, guys: “Wow. I’m sorry that you’re in such a pickle. But I’m not sorry that I get to time something! NINETEEN MINUTES, PEOPLE!”
- “Don’t blame me if you get lost in the nooks and crannies of this crazy English muffin that we call Winston’s Life!” Winston’s Life feels like a board game. Feels like it should be a board game, anyway.
- Also there was a scene where fat Schmidt cries as “Gangsta’s Paradise” plays in the background. I can’t quote it, but god I wish I could.