New Girl is really doing a lot of things that I would have never expected it to do. It was really interesting to learn that Nick and Jess didn’t “get together” because of the writers’ intentional design, but rather because of the natural chemistry that evolved between Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel as they filmed the show each week. We all knew something like this was going to happen eventually, but I don’t know that anyone guessed it would happen this early. Something that upsets the status quo in such a serious way (especially for a sitcom) is typically reserved for a season finale. (Man, female-fronted shows are all about unconventional plotting these days.) Even then, this sort of thing has a tendency to get written away by one irritating line. It’s refreshing to see New Girl willing to take such daring steps in its storytelling, and it fits with the show’s insistence upon forcing characters out of their comfort zones. This season has forced Jess to confront a lot of tough things about herself, and it doesn’t look like this is going to let up anytime soon. Last episode, Nick planted a big one right on Jess’ pretty face, and this episode has made no bones about directly dealing with those consequences. In fact, having both characters immediately wake up the next morning, freaking out about what happened before they went to bed was probably the best way to start the episode. The same cold open ended on an insanely high note with CeCe's reactionary “Whaaaaaaa-” which may very well have been one of the funniest gags the show has ever done. (Seriously, cutting off in the middle of a yell like that is always funny, but this was just flawlessly executed.)
We follow the gang as they all wind up at the same Indian marriage convention, because of course. CeCe is going to try and get arranged married, and Jess is going with her so she can avoid thinking about how stoked she really was on Nicks’ kiss. Schmidt winds up going because he wants to win CeCe back, Nick tags along to avoid staying at the apartment (where he assumes Jess will be), and Winston joins because he’s awesome. In fact, he even gets his own subplot in this episode; thank Christ the show is finally deciding to give that character the attention he deserves.
Turns out an Indian marriage convention is the perfect place for the show to poke holes in the decision making abilities of its characters, as basically each one gets a chance to realize that impulsivity can have serious consequences. Despite the fact that CeCe is an outwardly successful individual (in a way that would hold up in real life, too), on paper she’s not so hot. “Over 30, no advanced degree, part-time employment” describes her to a tee. We know that CeCe is worldly and intelligent, and anybody familiar with the modeling industry knows she probably makes great money. But it’s also true that she got strawberries thrown at her in slow-motion by Lil’ Wayne in a music video. She has no reason to worry about what she does for a living, but she’s realizing that the impulsive actions resulting from desire to fit in with her family’s cultural standards are putting too much pressure on the other structures she’s established within her life. It’s a great moment for this ancillary character, and it brings us even closer to someone that’s been pretty identifiable from the get-go.
Nick, on the other hand, wants to have something like this ability to identify and connect with others, but just can’t stop thinking about himself. The hilariously misguided conversation that he has with Jess is evidence of this, and even he seems to get it. This is a show that knows its characters insanely well, and cares about them a lot. While they’ve all got their flaws, it’s made explicitly clear that the characters in New Girl are real human beings trying to do their best. That’s what makes it funny even when one of them fucks up and does something stupid, which is why this show is so much fun to watch in the first place.
Oh, and also...
• "Well, I did a lot of side stuff."
• The only flaw I found: how did Schmidt know CeCe was going to that marriage convention? Doesn't sound like something she'd share.
• Schmidt tries to help CeCe out...then immediately resorts to talking about her areolas when his efforts have unintended conequences.