Jess tends to be the most optimistic person in the room on New Girl, however like most people she has certain weak spots that cause her to behave in an uncharacteristic manner. One such area is her parents and in the past we have seen her attempt to Parent Trap them back together and this week we find out how Jess has a habit of scaring off her dad’s girlfriends. Now she is determined to make nice and attempt to welcome this one with open arms, which would be fine if Jess didn’t already have an acrimonious past with Bob’s new girlfriend.
There’s been a lot of talk of where last season of New Girl went wrong and while there’s not one specific answer there is one character who really suffered as a result of multiple plot points that ended up isolating her and this was Cece; her best friend was busy with her new boyfriend and her boyfriend also had another girlfriend. Some of my favorite New Girl moments have been as a result of the Jess/Cece friendship so I was thrilled to see it front and center in “Julie Berkman’s Older Sister” as Cece comes over to provide support and to enjoy the Jess versus Bob’s new girlfriend entertainment. This takes an unexpected twist when they see who Bob is dating and it makes up for Cece’s initial disappointed after Jess decides to take the high road and be respectful. One flashback shows just how much young Cece (who looks eerily like Hannah Simone) relishes in Jess warning off her dad’s girlfriends and another reveals just why Bob has stopped introducing Jess to the women he is dating (it involves correctly accusing a woman of faking a disability).
The look of pure delight on Cece’s face as she realizes just who Ashley (Kaitlin Olson, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) is coupled with Jess attempting to stifle her horror is hilarious and both Hannah Simone and Zooey Deschanel give good reaction faces. They know her as her less forgiving nickname Trashly and she earned this nickname through a series of trysts including one on the bleachers with Jess’ boyfriend at the time. It also gives Jess a pretty solid theory as to why God thinks sex is a sin as Jess has firsthand knowledge of seeing sex from above and how horrible it looks.
Jess and Cece have a strong shared history bringing depth and weight to episodes like this; there’s not much story that needs to be laid out to understand just why Cece is present at this brunch. Cece has been part of the Day family for a long time and while Jess’ mom might not be a fan of Cece, Bob is clearly fond of his daughter’s bestie (he did attend her wedding at the end of season 2 after all). Cece is here in part because of how she thinks Jess will react and considering how sunny Jess is most of the time, it is refreshing both for Cece and viewers to see her switch into sabotage mode. The flashbacks and particularly the display of menace reveal a rare dark side of Jess.
Rather than having Bob in the dark about Ashley’s past it was rather refreshing that he was aware of it and then some, plus it turns out the rumor about Ashley sleeping with their D.A.R.E officer was true and Bob is more than fine with this; they even tried to make a list of everyone Ashley slept with but ended up stopping at the ‘L’s.’ Jess attempts to stay quiet; however Cece plays the devil on her shoulder and encourages Jess to look at Ashley’s messages. Ashley has a perfectly good reason for the sexy tests – she’s a sex therapist – and this prompts her to leave this unwelcome environment. This is Jess in full protective mode, but her dad doesn’t need protecting in this way and if he gets hurt then he can deal with it. Jess is very much about fixing things and yet this can have the opposite effect as she becomes stifling rather than nurturing.
More misunderstandings follow and a grand gesture is required to save this relationship, a new move for Jess who in the past has used a baseball bat and accusations to fend of these women. Jess ends up caught in the middle of the road with cyclists whooshing past her (I feel like the screaming reaction is what I would go with in this situation) and when she gets clipped she pulls out the engagement ring in her dad’s pocket aiding a romantic moment despite her fuzzy headed pain.
One thing creator Liz Meriwether said she wanted to do this year in a pre-season interview with Alan Sepinwall was to have more focused storylines and this has been evident in the last two episodes as they’ve split the group into two plots rather than three. The guys are all showing how equally boneheaded they are this week as Schmidt needs help with an account pitch selling sponges to guys. It’s such a mundane specific item that of course ‘sponge’ is going to be the thing they yell out when they’re asked what word springs to mind when they think of the word sponge. A fun aspect of this story is seeing Schmidt trying so hard and spiraling as each of them tries to help – except Nick who is actually trying to get laid – and they just can’t quite get it right. A frustrated Schmidt is a very funny Schmidt.
It all gets kind of ridiculous when these four guys riff off each other; whether it is just how disgusting Nick is with orange juice pulp leftovers and what he wipes his bloody/sloppy joe mess on or arguing about the pizza they are going to get courtesy of Schmidt. This ends up turning into another Nick/Schmidt quality friendship moment and while it can’t quite hit the lofty heights of “gave you cookie, got me cookie” it is still pretty satisfying to see the happy ending of their unlikely team; Nick’s “Yay” We’re doing a bit” is so adorable. The fake ad that closes the episode is both hilarious and incredibly depressing when you factor in how it’s not that far off from some of the Super Bowl ads and “Spongey McWipy” needs to become a thing. Winston is next level Don Draper of coming up with slogans.
As with Cece and Jess, the Schmidt/Nick pairing suffered last year and they have been very much in focus this season. This is the first time the room sharing has been mentioned and of course there’s a huge difference in how they treat their respective sides. In one respect Schmidt and Jess are very similar in their strong enthusiasm for certain projects and as I mentioned last week the similarities between Nick and Cece continue to stack up. It’s also not surprising in a way that this is where a lot of New Girl’s romantic hookups have focused on. There is still character work that needs to be done with Coach as Damon Wayans Jr. is a good fit for this show, but we still don’t know all that much about him.
Oh and I can’t wait to read “Punting the Sweet Fantastic” even if guest star Michaela Watkins (Trophy Wife related sobs when I remember this show is no more) is right with her assessment of this book idea “feel like you kind of have to do something to write a book about yourself.”
New Girl Style Watch
It’s a style watch double hitter this week with Cece’s yellow Joie ‘Alicia’ tank and Jess in a super pretty Tory Burch dress that is perfect for brunch. Plus I really need a makeup IMDb to happen as now the hunt for Cece’s lipstick begins.