Tag Archives: Merritt Wever

New Girl Review: Schmidt’s Dating Mess

2 Oct

At the end New Girl’s second season Schmidt was asked to make a choice between Elizabeth and Cece and he ran away. He’s been doing this since we returned this year and his two timing has come to a head in “Double Date” as he told Nick what he had been doing and it all spiraled from there. This plot has been a bit of a drag as the conclusion was pretty inevitable – that Schmidt would end up with alone – and it’s been a bit of a slog getting here, putting Schmidt firmly in the douchebag category that has been joked about since the pilot.

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“In your little brain how do you see this ending?”

Schmidt’s response to Nick’s question is full of awareness, he knows that he’s gone too far and whatever the end result is, it’s going to be terrible and hurt all that are involved (including Nick who gets not one but two junk punches from Cece). So why the big delay? Schmidt blames it on everything from his upbringing to his former weight; the big surprise is who he blames for this resolution and that’s Nick and Jess. The threat he delivers at the end is enough to lose any good faith that he has earned from the audience as a result of his heartfelt confession to Cece and he’s already lost points because his hand was forced. So they’re going full douchebag with Schmidt and it probably isn’t his smartest idea to try and break up two of the three people he lives with. Delivering this threat with pie all over his face was wonderfully absurd and made the whole thing so ridiculous that you can almost forgive that Nick and Jess didn’t stand up to him over this BS.

There is no one to blame but Schmidt and it’s not like he has been two-timing women who he only met recently; Elizabeth is his first love and his feelings for Cece run deep. Hannah Simone nails the heartbreak of Cece as her eyes tear up and this quiet reaction is the opposite of what she has just done to Nick. Simone’s role within the group is often as the outsider as she is the only one of the regulars that doesn’t live in the loft and it will be interesting to see how they incorporate her now that she doesn’t want to see Schmidt ever again. The last time they had a period like this was between seasons 1 and 2 so that was all off screen.

Tonally this episode was all over the place and the breakup scene in the restaurant was pretty laugh free. Last week I discussed how New Girl excels at balancing the absurd moments with real emotions and while both of these factors were at play in “Double Date” it wasn’t as successful in switching between the two. Something felt off and Schmidt’s delaying tactics help turn him into the loft villain – as much as a villain as a sitcom can have – coupled with his Nick/Jess threat. This is probably just laying the groundwork for some Schmidt self-discovery, but at the moment it just reads as pointless bitterness.

One aspect that continues to play well is Nick and Jess as a couple from their country lawyer sex fantasies to the rather healthy bathroom discussion about how they feel about each other. It turns out that Nick’s driving style (because he totally needs glasses) is more likely to cause contention than their divided BFF loyalty. The funniest moment is as they list all the things that Schmidt might try and use to break them up including being sexually attracted to ladybugs, thinking the Kilborn Daily Show is better and being banned from Lake Ontario. It also turns out that they both think horses are from outer space (and I really want to see all the alt takes for this scene). Oh and Jess happens to know a lot of Spaceballs quotes that are perfect for no kissing sex.

Hanging by himself once again is Winston and this makes the third week where Winston’s story has been mostly solo. Hopefully this is building towards something and they definitely made a point of him realizing that he is the only one of the group who doesn’t have a significant other, unless you count Ferguson the cat. Now Schmidt is also in this position he might try and get Winston on his Jess/Nick breakup team especially if he dangles the prospect of pranks in front of Winston. Lamorne Morris excels at the crazier aspects of Winston so trying to keep hold of a community table for several hours allowed him to showcase this. Winston performed an important PSA too and you should always check that mints in restaurants are in fact mints and not a piece of glass.

This is of course still early in the season and events from the finale are still having a big impact on the narrative. So while it wasn’t the best episode of New Girl there has been it’s a necessary one to sort out the Schmidt/Cece/Elizabeth business. On the whole it made me laugh a bunch and Hannah Simone made me incredibly sad with her reaction to Schmidt’s cheating so it covered the emotional scale. So long Merritt Wever, you’re brilliant and I really hope you will come back on this show in the future.

New Girl: Balancing Emotional Stories with the Absurd

25 Sep

When high school is over you can still end up in situations that mirror the awful not fitting in feeling and Jess ends up in this position on this week’s New Girl after she finds herself friendless in her new teaching job – where is Mary Lynn Rajskub? The adult version of the mean but cool clique isn’t anything particularly new, but it gives the Nick and Jess relationship a chance to breath and shows how they can make them work as a couple without losing the tension that made season 2 so much fun.

I’ve mentioned before how New Girl works best when it walks the line between the ridiculous and grounded emotional moments; this happens multiple times in this gag-packed Kay Cannon script (you can see the rapid fire approach of jokes per page from Cannon’s 30 Rock background at work). There’s a discussion between Nick and Jess about whether he would have noticed her in high school and this leads to Nick’s “Miller Sack Pack” revelation. This coupled with Winston’s big Daisy decision as he now wants to be exclusive and tell her that his “heart is a two man bike and I want you in the rear” demonstrates the many tawdry jokes that exist within the emotional framework.

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This isn’t the first time Nick has tried to give advice to Jess*, the difference now is that Jess is “his old lady” and so the stakes for him are higher (though I’d argue that even if they were still just friends he’d offer free drinks at the bar to help out). Having Nick and Jess’ first real challenge as a couple not being about them is also a good start and while I suspect there will be other relationship drama around the corner it doesn’t need to happen this early. Nick’s original idea is to give some free school supplies to the cool clique, because who doesn’t want $15 and a halfie worth of stuff? Luckily Nick also works at a bar which doesn’t seem to have a problem with him giving away drinks so this alternate suggestion is a big hit.

*Kay Cannon also wrote the season 2 opener “Re-launch” which saw Nick comforting Jess after she was made redundant. On this occasion he gave her better advice than just drink lots telling her “Life sucks and then it gets better and then it sucks again and then it just sucks.”

Following on from Nick’s observation that this is like high school all over again, with Jess being a nerd in both scenarios she takes this to heart and gets wasted. Drunk Jess dances in toilet bowls, sings 4 Non Blondes and gets accepted by the other teachers. The drunk Jess singing moment is topped by the guys performing a rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly,” this is reminiscent of them singing “Time of my Life” in the pilot but under very different circumstances of course. This is where Zooey Deschanel gets to show off her excellent comedic timing as she pulls a good hangover face of pain and discomfort. The guys really should get the band together.

Winston points out that Nick is basically imprinting himself on Jess with his getting drunk suggestion and instead of sending Nick in a tailspin of doubt it spurs him on to rectify this. When Nick gets caught between Jess and Winston both acting impulsively it hilariously ends with Nick stuck in the middle between two potential crimes. When Nick is the sensible one in the scenario it adds another level of chaos as he yells in an exasperated fashion.

Nick is of course smitten with Jess and while her idea to break into her new bosses garden is not the best; this doesn’t matter as Nick tells her that “If you’re going to do something that’s obviously very stupid then I’m going to do it with you.” He’s also willing to take the fall for her and when she steps out from her hiding place the absurd kicks in as the Dawson’s Creek theme “I Don’t Want to Wait” begins to play – I will never not love a gag that features this song (see also Urban Legend).

The Schmidt love triangle plot is dragging along and because there is a short shelf life on Merritt Wever’s guest starring role it’s now entered slightly tedious territory. I think Wever is great and I liked how she reacted to Schmidt’s terrible role play idea, but I also think this whole narrative is tired. The one surprise is that Schmidt didn’t get caught and Max Greenfield played this moment well as it seems he really wants to get caught as this resolve this mess even if he ends up with no one. The 2/3 replica of Don Draper’s office gag worked like a charm as did the competitive chemistry with Beth, reprising a work rivalry from early season 1.

Winston is also having relationship drama and this is the episode where they have to write Brenda Song out because of her Dads commitments (giving me all of the sads). This was another play on the “Winston is crazy” angle but unlike last week’s puzzle adventure there was a point to the crazy even if it did involve potential cat murder. Now there is pet in the loft and the cats love Schmidt’s nipples visual only got funnier as the episode went on (yes there are already gifs).

Everyone being back in the loft gives a sense of familiarity that was missing last week, even if the dynamic has shifted. The scene in the elevator that turns into a relationship discussion between the guys is hilarious because they all forget to press the button; too preoccupied with their romantic entanglements. By the end of the episode Schmidt is still stuck in two-timing hell, Winston goes from having a girlfriend to having a cat and Nick is the only one who is content – this might be a first for him.

One criticism I would have with the Jess plot is that while the guest stars did the best with the material they didn’t really get all that much to do. This can be a problem with these small roles that are serving the central characters and so I hope both Angela Kinsey and Dreama Walker will return later in the season.

This is a much more cohesive episode even with the amount that is going on and while the season premiere was a bit of a disappointment I would say that this is more like the New Girl that was raved about last year.

And because it’s now stuck in my head it can be stuck in yours too!

Emmys 2013 Red Carpet: The Best of the Monochromes

23 Sep

Last night the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards took place in Los Angeles and the show was a mixed bag featuring unnecessary extended musical numbers, winners both predictable and surprising, a seemingly random dedication to 1963 and a band that played the winners off in record time (apparently a performance by Elton John is more important than the actual awards themselves). The direction felt all over the place and if it wasn’t for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler the awards opener would have been a huge dud (please host the Golden Globes again).

Luckily the fashion on the red carpet wasn’t such a shambles and first up is the women who are rocking the big monochromatic trend.

Anna Gunn Emmys 2013

Anna Gunn won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a drama category; a well deserved winner for that walk of despair into the swimming pool and her subsequent breakdown on the first half of Breaking Bad’s final season. Wearing Romona Keveza, Gunn looks stunning in a dress that is simple and elegant.

Merritt Wever Emmys

Merritt Wever! Another winner and not just for Nurse Jackie as she gave the best speech of the night that got straight to the point “Thank you so much! I’ve gotta go, bye.” While Wever doesn’t look all that convinced in the above photo, I think she looks incredible and I’m so happy that she won. Bonus points for an amazing lip color choice and for being generally awesome. It’s already been said on here countless times but can Elizabeth stay on New Girl please?

Elisabeth Moss Emmys

Breaking the “if you wear a monochromatic dress you will win” cycle is Elisabeth Moss and I’m pretty bummed out that both Top of the Lake and Mad Men went home with nothing. Moss is a vision in Andrew Gn and her blonde choppy cut continues to serve her well as this awards cycle is the best we’ve seen Moss yet. As with Wever, Moss has opted for a bold red lip color and is the key to setting off a great black and white ensemble.

Morgan Saylor Emmys

Now to one of the younger stars of the red carpet and Homeland’s Morgan Saylor; this Honor gown is perfect for an 18 year old as it’s not too prom but it also doesn’t age her up to 30. One thing I would change is her hair as it looks a little too casual for an event like this, nicely played with the red lips and makeup that isn’t too severe though. I’m hoping that season 3 of Homeland will give her a story that is less Kim Bauer like, she’s a really great young actress and I don’t want her bogged down in contrived melodrama.

Julianna Margulies Emmy 2013

Julianna Margulies was on hand to present because somehow she wasn’t nominated for The Good Wife and so this Reed Krakoff dress is a little more on the relaxed side. Yes it resembles a fancy bed sheet, but sometimes this can work too and maybe I’m just very excited by the return of The Good Wife next Sunday – yes on the same night as the Breaking Bad finale – but I think she looks fantastic.

New Girl Season 3 Premiere: Going “All In”

18 Sep

Season openers can be a tricky endeavor, particularly when the previous episode has culminated in a highly anticipated union and the momentum has been broken by a summer off. With a show like New Girl a lot of hype has been directed at Nick and Jess and if you were wondering what they’re relationship status is the repeated “all in” gets both the characters and the audience used to the idea that they can be a couple.

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The season premiere starts where we left off; with The Vaccines “I Always Knew” playing as Nick and Jess drove away from the abandoned wedding. After making a roadside stop to consummate the fact that they didn’t call it off, they end up standing at their front door. Neither are ready to cross the threshold as they’ve only been a couple for 30 minutes and their roommates are already being incredibly demanding – ok Schmidt’s is the demanding one, Winston just wants to puzzle. The prospect of returning to normalcy is too much and the pair head off to Mexico to spend some quality time together living out of the back of Jess’ car. We don’t get to see exactly how both of their wedding outfits end up quite as wrecked as they do, but it works better this way. The same can be said for the lack of explanation as to why Winston is wearing a hoodie as pants other than his propensity to get weird.

In Mexico away from the apartment Nick thinks that he can make this relationship work and he’s willing to shred his passport so he doesn’t have to go home and risk losing Jess. This is Nick’s irrational side coming out, the part that thinks he isn’t worthy and he’s more likely to fuck everything up if he lets this side get the better of him. As we have seen with Nick’s previous relationships he’s a fan of the self-sabotage and he doesn’t want this one to go the same way. It’s a different start to dating thanks to their roommate status and this is enough to send Nick into a tailspin of not wanting to leave Paradise Nick and Paradise Jess behind. It doesn’t help that Schmidt and Winston are in full on bickering mode, coupled with Schmidt’s relationship drama and so resort jail is of course far more appealing – they let him watch Ugly Betty after all.

Home is where they have to go and Jess delivers a heartfelt speech; Craigslist gets major props and for once it isn’t sex, drugs or murder related. Jess is the voice of reason on this occasion, not just in relation to Nick but with all of them as she points out that they’re “a family” and how “there is no us without Schmidt and Winston.” It’s a dysfunctional dynamic and the loft situation is going to provide a wealth of stories in the coming weeks. As far as this season opener goes the Jess and Nick stuff plays well, Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel still have oodles of chemistry and because they are together there is a lot of kissing; we know how well they do that.

One issue with this episode is how disjointed it feels and not just because Nick and Jess are in Mexico while Schmidt and Winston are back home. There’s a lot to cram into 22 minutes and at points it seems like certain aspects of the story have been cut out (the promo photos show that in one cut Nick isn’t the only person to get tasered). It’s understandable why these cuts have to be made for time, but on this occasion it was noticeable – maybe as a result of the promotional materials.

First episodes back are meant to refresh the viewer with what has occurred and lay out where things are headed, so it’s not surprising that the momentum the back half of season 2 created gets disrupted. Schmidt still has his decision to make as he tells both Elizabeth and Cece that he has chosen them. Cece is the regular cast member and Merritt Wever will be making her way back to Nurse Jackie soon so this takes some of the tension out of this process. Considering Schmidt’s duplicitous behavior it’s likely that he will end up with neither of them (for now).

Now to Winston and his puzzling; the main puzzle being will he get his own ‘A’ story this season? While I enjoy the lengths they push Winston too with his love of badgers and forgotten birthdays, there comes a time when Lamorne Morris deserves a bigger piece of the New Girl pie. Over at Vulture New Girl creator Liz Meriwether discusses this aspect of his character saying “That’s the level we like, where he’s on some crazy mission for some stupid thing but the stakes are so high for him. To me, that’s just hilarious, and Lamorne is so good at going to those broad places but keeping an emotional reality at the center of it so it doesn’t feel out in space.” While I totally agree with this notion, I hope there is more for him this year and maybe the return of Coach will give him a source of conflict beyond the realization that he is color blind – points to Schmidt for the line of the episode “If you think those shoes are brown, what color do you think you are?”

Winston does take it too far and not just with his jigsaw obsession as a moment where he has to save Schmidt ends with him admitting to wanting Cece’s underwear because he wanted to sew them into his underpants. Cece reacted accordingly. As we saw in “First Date” last season, Schmidt and Winston together creates these ridiculous scenarios and it gives both Max Greenfield and Lamorne Morris a chance to unleash their crazy; the argument where they literally argue in circles is absurd but brilliant.

We end the episode back at the front door of apartment 4D, flummoxed as Nick doesn’t carry a key – “there’s always someone at home” – and a mini argument ends in making out. We’re back to where we started and this mini adventure to Mexico might not have been a completely satisfying start to the season, but it’s laid the groundwork and I’m confident that the season will pick up from here. It’s also pretty great to be back with these characters and to no longer be tiptoeing around a “will they/won’t they story.”

Julie Hammerle

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