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New Girl Recap: Sky Knife

NEW GIRL

So, this is my last New Girl recap of the season. (I got a fun and exciting full-time job, guys. Just like a productive member of society might have.) I’m sad to leave my beat chronicling the exploits of the inhabitants of everyone’s favorite 6,000,000-square-foot Los Angeles apartment. Things have changed in the loft, though. Schmidt is gone. Abby Day has come to town. Cece went from being a flawlessly beautiful model to being a flawlessly beautiful bartender. An era has come to an end, as all eras do. Even if I weren’t being pulled away from my post by other professional commitments, it would still feel different and weird to write about the show. There’s a transition happening, and I don’t think I’m in favor of it.

Earlier this season, I mentioned how I enjoy the characters on New Girl because they like each other. At least, I think I did. It’s so hard to remember. It all took place three complete Winston personality shifts ago. Back when Schmidt loved too much for his own good. Before Coach came back. The long-ago time. But that time has passed. We’ve entered a dark time. Nick and Jess are still going strong, but the rest of the characters have entered a dimension I call the Why Are You Even Friends Zone.

We all love Linda Cardellini, but Abby Day is just the most unpleasant character. She is a monster. I am a liberal-artsy enough person who went to a liberal-artsy enough college to understand she’s probably been through some real hard times. That’s usually how people become awful. Most people aren’t born like that. It’s not like being left-handed or blonde. People are shaped by their experiences, and learning about those experiences can help you understand exactly how a person came to be “a garbage person who belongs in a dumpster with snails” (according to Nick Miller). And then maybe they don’t seem so fetid anymore.

Unfortunately, we don’t know anything about Abby. She’s mad that Jess wants to fix her, but she is legitimately broken. No amount of “life-giving” tease sex with Schmidt is going to fix that. You can’t sex away your problems. Sex just tamps your issues down like a coiled toy snake inside a fake can of peanut brittle. Then, when the sex stops, your snake demons come screaming out at whomever’s around. I mean, who hasn’t been there? We’ve all been there, right? I mean … never mind.

The real point is, Abby’s backstory is too flimsy for us to feel any sympathy for her beyond the basic empathy we extend to other human beings because the world is a crazy place to live. We never get that (very important) peek behind the mania, nor do we see what she does that’s worthwhile at all. She doesn’t do anything for anyone. She isn’t globally important. She isn’t good at anything. Well, that’s not true. She’s good at one thing. (Unless you count tying knots and heating up chocolate; in that case, it’s two. Abby is erratic and volatile and mean. SO MEAN. She throws Winston into a complete tailspin over a bagel, which is only one step below shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die, in terms of cruelty. She also invented the game Sky Knife, which is pretty much what it sounds like, only worse. She’s like what Bart Simpson thinks a sexy grown-up woman is like.

Bart Simpson or … apparently … Schmidt. For some reason, Schmidt can’t avoid sleeping with Abby. Then, once he has, he finds the sex so compelling he lets her move in with him. Sure. Super reasonable. Totally logical course of action for a guy who is constantly trying to get back together with his ex. An ex who hates his new steady, live-in hookup. (Though, in fairness to Schmidt’s pregnant-lady-weird sexual appetite, Cece never would have been into Nick/Jess gender-flipped incest role-play.) Schmidt used to have a roster of ladies deeper than a playoff baseball team. Now he’s living in sin (the sin is betraying his friends) with a woman he had to entice off the hood of a car with promises of tacos. His best friend’s girlfriend’s sister, no less. And they don’t even get along. Schmidt! I want you to be better than this! I liked when you were flawed. Now you’re just … obtuse.

And Coach is just Schmidt if he never got to have sex. Coach seems to be alternatingly thwarted by himself and external circumstances. And he’s basically as mean to Winston as Abby is. I mean, Coach doesn’t swindle Winston out of his breakfast food, but he does hit him in the face a whole bunch of times. Some may argue that’s worse. (I for one would not. It didn’t even look like a very good bagel that Abby stole.) Even his pep talk is about as inspirational as the second half of a VH1 Behind the Music episode. What did Winston do to deserve all this ridicule?

Ahh, Winston. Poor, sweet Winston. I’ll miss him most of all. Winston, I hardly knew ye. Mostly because ye never really seemed to know yeself. You’re a super-competitive athlete. You love pranks but are terrible at them. You work in sports radio. You’re dating a drifter. You love puzzles. Winston questions and tweaks his identity as often as a high-school junior pouncing on every trend in an effort to be popular. When he tells Coach that his motivational speech is so bad it’s basically “the Winston of pep talks,” it’s a fine joke, but also a sad referendum Winston’s own self esteem. He’s hurting. Why does no one on the show see this?

Instead of validating the obvious pain that Winston and Abby appear to be feeling, every other character tries to manipulate them. The characters are funny, but they have so little empathy for one another. They’re mean and flippant and inconsiderate. Those are qualities I can get a million other places. What made New Girl fun and special was how much the characters looked out for each other. As I leave you all, I can only hope that the show returns to them to that state sometime soon. Thanks for reading, everyone. It’s been real nice!