New Girl ‘Normal’: Peach Basket Catch-It-Up

‘Normal’ was the first episode since the FOX renewed the show for a second season, and last night highlighted many of the reasons why.New Girl is heading into the final stretch of season one with some of the best episodes to date, and the whole Justin Long-boyfriend, Winston is useless storyline catastrophes are firmly in the past. ‘Normal’ was one of the first episodes where the show didn’t feel like it was experimenting with something, and for the most part, it worked really well.

The obvious highlight of the night was True American, the game the gang invented, and invited Jess’s boyfriend Russel to play with them. It involves a lot presidents, castles, lava, and a shitload of drinking, and like most invented games on comedy shows, is a great way to step back and let the characters interact with themselves, without having to shove all sorts of plot into it (although that Friends trivia game is still one of the most genius things ever done on a comedy show). We got to see everyone get drunk and foolish, but without feeling disconnected from the rest of the episode, which was a bit more hit or miss, but rang more true to the characters we’ve come to know then some of last week’s story lines.

Best part of the episode isn’t True American, which is a nice little piece of pop culture trivia and distracted storyline, but not really much else in terms of improving the show. No, the best part was Winston’s new job, which finally gives him a reason to do something besides pout and get made fun of for being a failed athlete (though the latter don’t really disappear, and rightfully so – it’s still hilarious). Winston needed something to do, and having him nanny really wasn’t as funny as you’d think – although the kid he watches getting him fired by accusing him of trying to get him to hold a joint was a hilarious little conclusion.

This new situation might not be as fun as it was in this episode – the radio personality is dangerously close to being a cartoon – but it did bring in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who I got a big riot of. He’s improved quite a bit comedically since his turn on Fresh Prince decades ago, and the little touch by the writers to add his full signature (complete with jersey number) to the note he hands to Winston is a great little touch.

At the heart of the episode is Russel and Jess’s relationship, which features some good chemistry and banter, but really doesn’t work for me. He’s obviously not going to fit in long-term with the show, because since the two part ‘Fancyman’ where he’s introduced, their clashes of both character and life direction n only make interesting comedy for so long. It was good to see the guys in the loft rally around Jess a bit, and bring Russel into the fold a little friendlier than they did with Jess’s last boyfriend. It also led to the funniest little side plot of the episode: Nick and Schmidt’s Real Apps. The physical manifestation of the product was both hilarious and totally fitting for Nick, and Schmidt’s attitude towards the importance of a name and branding made for some fun interplay between the two.

Fun little episode for everyone on the cast, and I’m really happy to see that Winston is finally getting a little more to do with his character: outside of the storyline with his girlfriend, all he’s been is the butt of jokes about his characters past, and its nice to see the writers ground him in the present a bit, and give him someone to interact with besides his room mates.

Grade: A-

Other thoughts:

– all of Schmidt’s comments about his sexual escapades with CeCe were funny, especially the one about Darwinism.

– when did Jess become comfortable with being sexy? I distinctly remember the disasters of her attempts at being hot earlier in the season.

– “It’s 4:20, don’t you have to be somewhere?” and “Get away from the hippy.” Hilarious.

– Who doesn’t like their shakes Beyonce-colored?

– Good thing it’s only a prototype of a prototype… it’s not cool unless it has baller metals. Of course, since Schmidt mid-wifed the idea, he knows what its all about.

What did you think of ‘Normal’? Leave your thoughts below, and if you want to play a game of True American, just name the time and place.

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