The Morning Round-Up: ‘New Girl’ & ‘Happy Endings’

Senior Television Writer
10.24.12 51 Comments


It’s morning round-up Time, with reviews of last night’s “New Girl” and the “Happy Endings” season 3 premiere, coming up just as soon as I look like a monkey from a Russian cracker ad…

“New Girl” was designed as a Zooey Deschanel vehicle, but somewhere along the way, the balance shifted towards Max Greenfield, and then Jake Johnson, until eventually the show seemed less like it was about three guys dealing with their weird female roommate than about one woman reacting to the weird guys she lives with. Though “Models” had a terrific B-story about the guys grappling with their feelings for one another – Johnson’s increasingly inarticulate delivery of “You gave me cookie, got you cookie” was genius – this was the first episode in a while that Jess carried the comedy load for without the help of any of the guys. Lots of great physical comedy (the boob slapathon, Jess struggling through the product-integrated car show), a good use of Nadia and the rest of Cece’s vapid, racist model friends, and an excellent understanding of how Jess and Cece’s friendship works.

There are times when “New Girl” does episodes that are just silly, and other times when it does ones that are more thoughtful about having friends and growing up (Nick’s health scare last season) but are lighter on the laughs. This was an instance where the two stories were both about the same thing, and asked a universal question (would your longtime friends still be your friends if you were just meeting each other today?), but in the context of a lot of excellent jokes(*), well played by this strong cast.

(*) One exception: I wish the show would forget that Fat Schmidt ever existed. I understand that his personality is shaped from being a loser who turned himself into a good-looking guy, but like Fat Monica on “Friends,” it’s a really cheap joke. I enjoyed Mustache Nick’s reactions to the sheer weirdness of Schmidt at that age (though both share a love of Brian Austin Green’s hip hop skills), but all of it could’ve been accomplished without the prosthetics.

As I mentioned briefly in yesterday’s “Don’t Trust the Botulism in Apt. 23” review, I was not a big fan of the “Happy Endings” premiere, which did two things I don’t usually like out of the show: 1)It pushed the behavior of one of the characters (in this case, Max as Annie Wilkes) well beyond the boundaries of what’s acceptable even within this group (and the attempt to justify it with the flashback to Penny doing the same to him didn’t work), and 2)It had the characters (Brad pretending not to have a job in particular) behaving like they were on bad old sitcoms. (Though, oddly, I enjoyed Sinbrad.) Also, though I’m keeping an open mind re: Dave/Alex 2.0, this was not a very promising start, and was evocative of the show’s bumpy early episodes. The writing for both characters (Alex in particular) has gotten much better, but they still tend to work best when dealing with the rest of the group rather than each other.

As has been the case with this show since midway through season 1, the sheer volume of jokes helps compensate when the stories are weak, but I was much happier with the set up of next week’s episode.

What did everybody else think?

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