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New Girl 3.21 “Big News” Review – “Faaaaaaaantastic”

16 Apr

When we first met Nick and Jess in the New Girl pilot both of them were dealing with breakups – Jess’ was of the immediate kind and it’s why she moved into the loft in the first place and Nick was still in his drunk dialing Caroline phase. Cheating and a lack of attention were the reasons behind these splits. Cut to the present day and they’re both dealing with a whole new kind of breakup; the reason behind their split does have a whiff of end of season dramaz as it’s all down to how much (or rather how little) they have in common. Nick and Jess still love each other, it’s just the other stuff that has got in the way.

There’s been a lot of talk on here of “What next?” and the “will they/won’t they” on New Girl and The Mindy Project and while this is only the first episode exploring the other end of the sitcom romance, “Big News” is quite possibly the best episode of this uneven season.

New_Girl_Ep321-Sc26_S0A2065This big breakup comes after the pair just started sharing a room and this is something that was semi forced upon them in the first place ; their relationship is already following a somewhat non-traditional trajectory as they started dating when they were already roommates. This already impacts on those big couple milestones as they already lived together before they’d had their first date.* The second half of last season was all about navigating the getting together, whereas the bumps this year have all been around the big declarations -using boyfriend/girlfriend, the first “I love you” and effectively moving in together. The latter meant that even though they were already living together, being in such close quarters led to this examination of just how different they are and the hangover they were both suffering from in the last episode magnified these issues.

*On their first date they bumped into Russell and he made them write down what they think they are to each other. Now we never got to find out what either of them wrote, but this moment is indicative of what is happening right now with them. They still don’t really know what they are and it’s something the show clearly wants to explore beyond just boyfriend/girlfriend shenanigans. 

“Big News” is the day after the breakup (and I really wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t suffering from a two day hangover, those are the worst) and thanks to Nick’s Memento style hand notes he knows this isn’t a dream. The sight of the make shift bed on the floor is pretty devastating, that is until Nick’s high pitch scream of wonder makes everything fine just for a moment. So what are the rules for Nick and Jess? Well first of all boob season is over and that’s about all they figured out; by the end of the episode they still don’t have much else as Jess doesn’t know where she is going to sleep (why not at Cece’s?) and they don’t know what to call each other. Nick goes for “honey” which is adorable and heartbreaking at the same time. One thing is clear and that is neither of them are OK, no matter how much they say they are at the start.

Thanks to some very good news for Winston – he got into the police academy! – they decide to put off telling everyone so Winston can bask in joy. This could get tired very quickly, but instead of having Nick and Jess enduring the episode together, they spend the first half trying to deal with their misery without talking to anyone from the loft. The first port of call is ringing Jess’ mom and she’s more cut up than Jess is as she’s dealing with lack of grandchild prospects anxiety. Nick heads to the park and to work through his feelings with Tran (who he had to get out of dance class) and this conversation is as ridiculous and one sided as all of Nick’s Tran therapy sessions.

Advice is flowing from all corners as Jess tells Cece and Coach’s concerned voice coaxes it out of Nick. While Cece gives good advice (talk to him), Coach tells Nick to go down the “you should hide your feelings” route coupled with taking some of Schmidt’s anti-anxiety pills. As Jess and Nick have seen how broken the other has been post big breakup this “I’m fine” route is bad for them, but makes for damn good comedy. This coupled with everyone knowing except Winston, who is enjoying new career happiness and the amount of wine Jess – having a holiday pour – consumes means the honey roast is at times hilarious and also incredibly painful. Zooey Deschanel gives a standout performance and drunk acting can easily stray into over the top and nonsensical. Instead what Deschanel does is show Jess’ sadness and hurt at how fine Nick is, grounding it and all while she is dressed as Ferguson. Nick’s wearing sunglasses to mask his winking twitchy eyes (thanks to the medication) and it’s one of those scenes that has so many farcical elements (including Winston’s white tails) and still hits every single emotional cue.

Jess isn’t so good with the roasting even if she’s terrifying when she insists IT’S MY TURN pointing out that Coach needs to buy ordinary pants, Cece’s hair is so long and Schmidt has a big head. Jess never gets to Winston as she reveals what word Nick says when he climaxes (Yahtzee) and the names he uses for birds (wind mice) and turtles (shell beavers) and as the tears brim in her eyes she utters the worst thing which is “he’s ok and I am not ok.” This TV season has seen a shift in the kind of shows that have elicited a misty eyed reaction from me and with probably the exception of The Good Wife it is comedy that has been the source of most of my tears. Sometimes this is a happy response – generally Parks and Recreation – but there are a lot of sitcoms that have been dealing with a whole host of tragedy whether it is something like Enlisted and it’s examination of PTSD, the Mother singing to her now dead love in How I Met Your Mother or simply a break up sitcoms have been killing it this year with the emotional spectrum. New Girl can be added to the list (I’ve just remembered it made me teary earlier this season when Nick put together that video package for Jess *sob*) and it’s a testament to both Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel that they really sell this heartbreak while also playing wasted.

With Spencer (Jess’ boyfriend from the pilot) and Caroline we have no emotional connection to either of them or their relationships with Jess and Nick so the Dirty Dancing repeat watching and drunk dialing don’t mean much more than a visual gag. Now it holds so much more meaning and the closing scene of the episode brings us full circle to the pilot, but Nick and Jess are not the people we met three years ago. Yes they still have their comforts (booze and Patrick Swayze), however these things were solo wallowing ventures in the past, now they are sharing them in this breakup together and as they both sing-along to “Hungry Eyes” from different rooms I think these kids still have a chance. It’s just New Girl has to learn how to be again without them together.

The day was meant to be all about Winston and while the gang try all they can do to make this the case, it is of course very much a Nick/Jess episode. This is the Winston thing and it reminded me of his birthday last year when everyone forgot and he spent the episode thinking things were about him, when everyone was preoccupied with Cece’s wedding and Jess and Nick sleeping together for the first time.

There are two episodes left of season 3 and they will no doubt be figuring out how to deal with the logistics of the breakup. One reason why “Big News” works so well is that while the focus is on Nick and Jess, it’s also very much a group episode; so hopefully time apart from each other will allow for more Cece/Jess (something that has been lacking this season) and dude bonding. The romantic aspect is one I am invested in, but at the heart of New Girl are these friendships so like Nick and Jess I want to see what this show will do as it leans towards these relationships instead of just the big love story.

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3 Responses to “New Girl 3.21 “Big News” Review – “Faaaaaaaantastic””

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. New Girl 3.22 “Dance” Review: Love is Forever and Ever and Ever and Ever… | TV Ate My Wardrobe - April 30, 2014

    […] 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 […]

  2. New Girl 4.06 “Background Check” Review: “It Looks Like Your Body is Crying” | TV Ate My Wardrobe - November 5, 2014

    […] privy to what is going on from when he thought they were planning a surprise birthday party, to the Nick and Jess breakup last year and Nick, Cece and Coach got stoned earlier this season. This exclusion is harsh from a […]

  3. New Girl 4.07 “Goldmine” Review: “I Live with my Ex” | TV Ate My Wardrobe - November 12, 2014

    […] Nick and Jess split up at the end of last season it was relatively painless – sure there was Dirty Dancing sobbing sessions and initial sadness – and the main reason they broke up involved the structure of the show […]

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