So I didn’t have enough space for all of Jess’ use of forever, but hey it’s infinity anyway in true tween 4EVA IBTS (if broken still true) declarative style. New Girl returns to school tonight and the beauty of Jess (and now Coach) working at a middle school means these characters can resort to broad generalizations like boys are dumb/girls are stupid even though they’re in their early 30s. There are aspects from school that will always stay with us and so it makes sense that Jess wants to organize the perfect dance when she has such rotten memories of the ones she attended when she was a kid. Throw in her recent heartbreak and it is going increase this desire as Jess’ outlook is to focus on the positive. In fact “Dance” is about embracing childhood moments, no matter how painful or stupid as a way to circumvent what is going on in the present.
There’s a push/pull in “Dance” between what makes a grown-up or in more specific cases what defines manhood and Nick tells Schmidt that he genuinely misses goofing around with Jess. The goofing around suggests play, but being an adult doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t be ridiculous anymore and the activities this group partake in are often just games you could play as a kid, with added alcohol. Schmidt thinks Nick is being rather mature with his assessment that breakups should hurt and how they’re using Winston as their sexual tension killing device. In the last scene they do get to dance together and it’s both goofy and full of sexual tension; even though they’re in a room full of people for a fleeting second it’s like they are alone. Jess finally gets to dance with her dumb boy and I don’t feel like I’m going out on a limb when it comes to predicting a reconciliation of sorts in the season finale next week.
Speaking of things that are dumb and the reason behind their breakup is still one of those things that compel me to say “really?” When thinking of Nick and Jess it actually does make sense that they would end their relationship for something as silly as this. After “Big News” I wrote about their inability to define what they are to each other and how this traces back to their first date encounter with Russell and I want to expand on this a little further. This is still what is going on as despite knowing and living together for three years, they’re still pretty clueless when it comes to admitting how they feel. Jess shares too much sometimes without saying what she means and Nick withholds giving the same effect; this is why they broke up, not because they don’t have anything in common, but because they share this inability to get to the heart of the matter.
It’s not just about Nick and Jess though and what makes “Dance” a great episode is its focus on the group; the breakup informs the actions without becoming this BIG ISSUE that dominates proceedings. Jess’ desire to create the perfect dance is rooted not with Nick, but thanks to her bad memories. It is not a completely selfish driven endeavor as Jess has shown on multiple occasions how much she wants to give the kids she teaches a really great middle school experience, whether it is showing them the ocean or dealing with a bullying issue. The dance does not go down perfectly, far from it and at first it looks like one of the teachers is behind the sabotage – the banana in the dark song is hilarious – instead it’s Wendy, the girl who is pretty much a mini Jess but with a shark tee and missing a Cece to share her misery with. Hey, they’re still doing the hanging out in the bathroom thing as adults too (this from season 1 “The 23rd”):
In terms of screen time the Cece/Jess relationship suffered as a result of Jess and Nick getting together – the same goes for Nick and the guys – so one benefit of breaking them is focusing on the other friendships that are at the heart of New Girl. Cece is often the stabilizing influence in the group, in part because she doesn’t live in the loft so she has a calming outside quality and because she generally has her shit together. Even though she’s not in the same place as she was last season in terms of career and relationship, things could be so much worse in that she could be in a loveless marriage doing modeling jobs she hates. Now she is working in a bar and dating a 20 year-old (who was seven when Good Will Hunting came out), but she seems pretty happy at the moment and takes the guys attempts to make fun of this age gap in her stride. It helps that they are terrible at doing this and declare their manhood by chanting “men, men, men” with a chest bump injuring Winston. They really are the dumbest boys in school. Jess also demonstrates that she’s not always the smartest as she thinks the good in good cop/bad cop means good at their job – this is up there with Batmanmobile for hilarious things that Jess doesn’t quite get. Another brilliant Jess moment comes courtesy of terrible self censorship when the lights go out “Son of a boooooo… penis. Ah, that wasn’t better. Sorry everyone.”
Coach gets to use his recently earned wisdom about kids “you have no idea what these little bastards are capable of. I mean I love them, I love them with all my heart, but they will hurt your feelings sometimes” while attempting to coach his roommates. So when Schmidt sees a kid being mean to someone about food, instead of standing up for the boy who was probably like him at school, he instead seeks the acceptance of the bully and in return gets called a “flamer.” Schmidt is persistent and the bully won’t back down either, so Schmidt challenges him to a foot race. In the parking lot Nick gains the acceptance of the boys with a box of fireworks because really Nick just wants to be pushed around in a shopping cart and not as part of the system. It’s clear that Nick definitely did everything in his power to not be a narc while he was at school, so much so he won’t admit to being a chaperon, or ‘rone.
Winston faces a different kind of challenge as his “Call Me Maybe” moves make him irresistible to an ever increasing group of girls – if the whole episode was Winston being followed by a giggling girls I think I would be fine with that. It all ends up in the parking lot as the three of them earn their rap group name and Coach list of better chaperons is hilarious – a dog, a plant wearing underwear and Ray Charles’ ghost. They might be dumb boys, but they’re needed. The rapping that follows is amazing, mostly because it is so terrible and in an unsurprising twist Winston takes it too far and goes to a dark, dark place.
Returning then to Jess and Cece’s conversation with Wendy as Jess explains that things “never work out the way you plan them, but in the end it’s all worth it and that’s why you have to try.” This pretty much explains the root of Jess and Nick’s issues with each other – the future planning – and what they haven’t done so far as they gave up pretty quickly without trying to work through this issue. What I don’t want New Girl to do is go for the breakup/get together cycle that sitcoms tend to favor, this doesn’t need to be a Ross and Rachel situation (does anything?), but what these past two episodes has shown is that Nick and Jess not being together has been beneficial to the overall group dynamic. Maybe it is because there are now stakes once again with increased tension and by addressing the coupling situation; they’re also approaching the overall story in a different way. With this in mind, next week’s finale will hopefully continue the quality and consistency of the past few weeks while wrapping up what has been a messy season in a satisfactory manner.