A quick review of last night’s “New Girl” coming up just as soon as I start talking like a Native American when I get angry…
Okay, I think they are officially on a roll now. “Secrets” not only made me laugh as much as any episode the show has done so far (if not more), but it made excellent use of the entire ensemble. And I don’t just mean that Winston was used adequately; Winston’s two-part monologue – first chasing away the college girls with tales of being on the down-low, then making the rest of the apartment get its act together – may have been the best part of the episode. That was a person, and a funny person at that. That was more than NotCoach. That was Winston.
Part of what made “Secrets” so strong was that it essentially had one story. Yes, Nick’s problems in lying to the young women he started sleeping with after hanging out with Dirk last week is somewhat separate from the entire apartment learning about Schmidt and Cece, but Nick is only willing to take Schmidt’s class in douchebaggery because he knows that Schmidt is sleeping with Cece. So everything felt more of a piece, and many of the episode’s strongest, most amusing moments just involved everyone reacting to the various secrets as they came out, whether it was Nick’s contorted mask of horror upon learning the Schmidt news (“This makes me hate things!”) or Jess’ ongoing response to learning the guys have all fantasized about her(*).
(*) Loved that Nick kept teasing her about it when she put on all the snowgear, asking her to say a specific phrase that’s always worked for him with this fantasy.
Best of all, the episode managed to balance the silly with the realistic. On the one hand, you have all of Nick’s terrible lies, Winston’s monologue, Jess’ goofy running style, etc. On the other, you have Jess being plausibly indignant about all of this, and you have her and Cece having what felt throughout like a real fight, even as there were jokes piled on top of it. I’m okay with things just getting absurd sometimes, but when the show can be ridiculous and real at the same time, then it has a chance to be something special.
“New Girl” is the only one of last fall’s new comedies where I’ve reviewed practically every episode. Part of that is that I liked the pilot, and the people involved, enough that I wanted to give it some rope. And part of it is that it’s interesting to me to chart the progress of a show like this that had a strong pilot and a lot of great raw material but clearly needed some time to make it all work on a consistent basis. These last few episodes suggest the show has started figuring itself out, and if this is a new, higher gear rather than a temporary hot streak, I’m going to be very happy with what “New Girl” has become.
Some other thoughts:
* This one was directed by David Wain, of “The State,” “Wet Hot American Summer,” “Stella,” etc. cult fame. He also cameo’ed as the guy who pushes past Jess in the 10K and tells her he’s peeing.
* One of the college girls was played by Katrina Bowden, aka Cerie on “30 Rock,” who I believe is still the reigning “sexiest woman alive” according to Esquire readers.
* Was the phone Nick smashed against the wall the one Fancyman gave him? If so, he’s going to have a hard time replacing it with those credit scores.
* More unsettling flashback secret: that Jess only realized she lost her virginity after the fact, that Jess once dated a guy who wanted her to talk like a dude, or that Cece apparently got to third base with Kevin Clash? Or is the most unsettling thing in the whole episode Winston describing Jess’ raccoon hands from his sex dream?
* “Jesus took it! A Jesus hawk on a speedboat! Bears! Magic! Family!” Between this episode and “Fancyman Part 1,” the writers have clearly figured out that letting Jake Johnson blurt out nonsensical phrases is gold.
What did everybody else think?