‘New Girl’ – ‘Bells’: The thrill of the fight

Senior Television Writer
11.30.11 47 Comments


A review of last night’s “New Girl” coming up just as soon as I have a $40,000 bar mitzvah…

“Bells” was one of the funniest “New Girl” episodes to date, but it felt particularly encouraging for two reasons:

1)Winston finally had a personality beyond “not Coach.”

2)Jess was by far the least funny part of the episode – not because she was bad, but because the material for the guys was so strong.

Let’s take the second one first. When the show debuted, it was overwhelmingly driven by Jess. The guys had a couple of funny bits in the pilot (the introduction of the douchebag jar, Coach trying to motivate Jess), but they were, for the most part, irrelevant. The show just needed three dudes to react to this weird magical unicorn who had charged into their lives – and for people who found Zooey Deschanel’s performance funny, that was okay for a start. But for the long-term viability of the series, the guys need to be able to carry the load at times, and “Bells” was a fine example of that. Jess(*) had her moments (doing a robotic bells routine, trying to defuse Nick and Schmidt’s fight by getting in between them and singing), but the parts I’m going to remember involved Nick’s quick fixes, Schmidt and Nick yelling about Midori Sour and dead nannies (one of the funniest scenes the show has done, and 100% Jess-free), Schmidt trying to squeeze the expensive conditioner out of Nick’s hair and Nick’s response to Schmidt’s cardigan.

(*) I also think the show has done a good job of making her seem saner and/or more human when she’s doing things related to her job. She’s still a goofball, and someone the kids don’t know what to make of, but she’s not an alien from Planet Twee when she has to deal with

Nick has always been the character the writers have had the most consistent vision for, but he’s also been the straight man, whereas Schmidt is funnier but all over the map in terms of characterization. Their feud showed both how Nick can be funny and not just the guy who patiently explains to Jess how normal humans behave, and seemed to find the right balance among the many faces of Schmidt. Good job.

Meanwhile, Winston finally seemed like a character, period, and not just some guy the writers slotted in when ABC renewed “Happy Endings.” Winston being hyper-competitive and cocky is something the show can work with, whether opposite happy rainbow Jess, insecure Schmidt or laid-back Nick, or some combination of the others.

The title is “New Girl,” but the show is going to have to be a true ensemble to work long-term. “Bells” suggests it can be.

What did everybody else think?

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