A review of last night’s “New Girl” coming up just as soon as I eat my way out of a sandwich house…
You may have noticed that for much of this season, “New Girl” has wound up as part of a Wednesday morning round-up of the previous night’s sitcoms, as a way of keeping the workload manageable when I’m watching so many shows in a given night. I’d planned to do that again today, since I’d already seen last night’s (quite good) “The Mindy Project” and was going to power through some of the other stuff this morning and then touch on them all briefly. And I may get to the other shows later, but “Eggs” was such a terrific episode of “New Girl,” distilling so many of the things the show does when it’s at its best, that I decided it was worth special attention.(*)
(*) Either that, or I couldn’t resist that headline, which – thanks in part to James Poniewozik – narrowly edged out a reference to the Tom Petty song “Zombie Zoo.”
On the most basic – and, for a comedy, important – level, “Eggs” was just extremely funny, from the opening moments (the lesbians being horrified at hearing Schmidt’s sex narration) to the closing ones (the group’s glee at hearing Winston read from Nick’s terrible zombie novel). Kay Cannon’s script (as one might expect from a longtime “30 Rock” writer, who here pulled double duty by playing Melissa) was just packed with great jokes(**), but also marvelous set pieces like Sadie being turned on as Schmidt demonstrates his sex routine, or Jess yelling out the window and quickly recognizing her mistake.
(**) Making the “just as soon as” line selection among the more difficult ever for this show; runners-up included “I use my face as a butter knife,” “my vagina gets better with age,” “I give my nipples a purpose,” “I care about my burritos more than your children” and “I meet the troll and answer his riddles three,” among many others. I eagerly await all the comments detailing your disbelief at the ones that I did not include.
But what made “Eggs” special – and what can, when everything is clicking, make “New Girl” one of the very best comedies on television – was the human element of it. It’s not just talented comic actors delivering funny lines well; it’s them doing it while playing fairly well-rounded characters whom the writers understand in a way where the humor comes directly from who they are, and not from exaggerating their behavior just for the sake of a joke.
This was a note-perfect version of Jess, for instance: weird and neurotic in all of the ways that plays into what Zooey Deschanel does so well, but also smart and self-aware and very recognizably an adult woman, as opposed to the 12-year-old elf creature she sometimes turns into. The riff about how all her remaining eggs have turned insane or evil from watching their sisters die was brilliant – not just a clever new spin on the kind of biological clock panic that’s inspired jokes on many a sitcom for decades, but something that sounds exactly like what Jess Day would think about when contemplating the news Sadie gave her.
Or take the resolution to the Schmidt/Emma problem. That was an empathetic, grown-up conversation in the middle of all the usual absurd accessories and role-playing that are a part of his weird but successful sex life. (For that matter, all the Sadie/Schmidt interactions walked just the right side of the line where you understood why she was tolerating his presence.) Between Schmidt’s belated realization that he loves Cece and Cece’s fear that if she wants kids right now, Robbie isn’t the guy, I imagine we’re heading towards the inevitable Schmidt/Cece reconciliation sooner rather than later. I didn’t love how abruptly the show split them up in last season’s finale, but the work that’s been done all season in showing how they interact post-break-up has been excellent, and will make the reunion feel earned rather than formulaic.
And then sometimes, yes, it is just about seeing these talented people with chemistry hanging out together and being funny. There was nothing magical about the last scene with the gang in Nick’s bed, but those four actors together, and the four characters busting on each other in ways that are both amusing and demonstrative of the warmth and affection they have for one another, is always going to be money in the bank for “New Girl.”
Excellent episode of what’s turning out to be a really strong sophomore season. Though I liked season one as well, it bums me out a little that this isn’t the show people got to see last year when the ratings were higher. Other things chased the audience away besides creative inconsistency (like the mid-fall hiatus), and I have no doubt the show will be back next season (and probably even longer), but there was a moment when this was a genuine hit, and if the level of execution back then had somehow been as good as it’s been more recently, perhaps the numbers would still be high.
What did everybody else think?