There are some things New Girl does really well, and then there’s some things it doesn’t do so well. Comedy tends to be one of its stronger suits, while emotional moments – something the show truly inspires to have – can be largely hit or miss. The emotional core of last night ‘Secrets’ pointed out both of these, with some funny ass moments surrounded by contradictory character arcs. It wasn’t the show’s worst episode, but in the last few weeks, the show feels more concerned with setting things up for the last few episodes of season one than having honest character interactions.
The A-story of ‘Secrets’ was its most problematic: Jess and CeCe’s big fight over CeCe’s secret sex with Schmidt (what a fun phrase). After sweaty-backed Nick spilled the beans on what was going on with her friend and her roommate, she got offended because she shares everything with CeCe and doesn’t feel like its reciprocated.
Aside from being insanely juvenile – something we fortunately haven’t seen a lot of since the early days of Jess singing everything and being afraid of sex – it just didn’t feel like an earnest character moment, merely something shoe-horned in, for the sake of adding some conflict to the episode. One thing the show’s made clear this season is Jess cares for her friends, and if they’re getting a little boom-boom on the side, why wouldn’t she just be happy that she’s not off banging some trashy DJ (or Elmo puppeteer)? There were still funny moments in their story: Jess running and the elmo joke at the top of the list, but there was too much Jess in winter clothes and whining about friendships.
Of course, when the big conflict of the episode feels forced, the resolution at the end of the episode has a lot less impact, although I did enjoy CeCe’s calm reaction to Jess’s craziness. Her budding relationship with Schmidt has toned down her character a bit, and given Hannah Simone some breathing room in her character. She’s great with comedy, especially as straight woman to both Jess and Schmidt, and it’s really been a joy to see her given some more screen time as the season goes on.
On the men’s side, the writers are still struggling to find a real identity for Nick. I love that he can’t figure out how to deal with his new found ability to pick up college girls, but instead of exploring this more, he turns into what I like to call note-taking Nick: the guy who just listens to other characters talk about who they are and he tries to emulate that. He’s essentially a guy without an identity, and I don’t think the show is really going to give him much of one until he hooks up with Jess. We know he’s awkward, and not really good at much, and cheap… and what else? Oh, that he doesn’t have a cell phone – again, now that he broke the one he just got from Russell.
The only male character the show has down is Schmidt, who spends most of the episode with his head in the douche bag jar, unfortunately. We also get another inauthentic character moment when he laughs off Jess calling them a cute couple. Schmidt has been obsessed with CeCe since day one, and I know he’s ready to drop all that and have a girlfriend for once in his life. Why all of a sudden he’s ready to deny it makes no sense, and screams of ‘THIS IS GOING TO CONTINUE UNTIL THE FINALE’.
And then there’s Winston, who again, the show has no idea what to do with, except when it comes to episodes with Shelby, where he has someone to ground his character in some emotion besides anger or confusion. still the worst character on the show, and I that loud, annoying speech they gave him in the middle was too drawn out. Winston isn’t the guy who brings people back to reality – his aloofness since he entered the second episode kind of prevents him from doing that.
I’ve watched the episode twice, and the more I write about it, the less I seem to like it. It definitely wasn’t playing to its strengths this week, but like I said, this episode felt like a lot of table-setting more than actual storytelling.
few other thoughts:
– Nick’s back sweat? Hilarious.Writing Mr. Schmidt on an invisible chalkboard? Also hilarious.
– I hope the show doesn’t make Schmidt in the fat suit a weekly thing. Sure it’s funny, but it feels too much like young Monica on Friends. Better to hear about than to see.
– I’ve been waiting for the ‘we masturbated to you, Jess’ joke since the first episode, but the way it played out was funny, and Winston’s condemnation of Jess was even funnier “I don’t work a 9 to 5… I can hear you!”
– Short, Simple, and Vagina… I mean, vague.
What did you think? Did this episode work better for you than me? Leave a comment and let us know what you thought!