New Girl Recap: Popsicle Psychology

We shouldn't have come. Photo: Fox
New Girl
New Girl
Episode Title
The Right Thing
Editor’s Rating

Happy April Fools’ Day, and a very happy New Girl Renewalsmas to you all! As much as I sometimes wonder if New Girl is cursed to wander aimlessly through its network-television limbo until Nick gets so old he actually catches up to his personality, I breathed a sigh of relief at the announcement that Fox had picked up the show for a fifth season, and not just because that means “New Girl recapper” just gained some career longevity. I realized that I’m not willing to accept that there should even be a question as to whether or not New Girl deserves more chances. Of course it does. I still believe that one day we will see it reach its full potential. Sure, I rag on New Girl sometimes, but it’s out of love. I want the best for it.

Another recent epiphany was that despite initial enthusiasm about the new title sequence, I really do miss the whole “Who’s that girl?” kit and caboodle. I’m not sure what it was, exactly, but something about the “The Right Thing” — maybe its delightfully unabashed sitcommery — really brought out the impersonality of the choppy new opening.

That delightfully unabashed sitcommery, by the way, is one of my least favorite things on other shows, and one of my most favorite things on New Girl. On another show, if a character wanted to buy partial ownership of a bar but first had to write all of his delayed bar mitzvah thank-you notes in order to get the gift money being held hostage by his mother, I’d call all kinds of bullshit.

That’s the kind of thing I actually love on New Girl. Not because it’s better written than other shows, although at its best, it’s that, too. It’s because its cast is uniquely suited to selling sitcom-y premises. I know I talk about it a lot, but I am not sure if I’ve said it enough yet: I doubt New Girl would be any good at all without its absolutely stellar cast.

“The Right Thing” is one of the more high-jinks-laden episodes that New Girl has seen in a while, and the cast sells the absolute bejesus out of it.

In a premise that will ring familiar to Sex and the City fans, Jess thinks she’s been stood up for her date with Coach’s gym friend Pete, only to find out that he’s got a good excuse: He’s dead. Jess and Coach convince Cece to accompany them to his funeral even though they’ve never been skiing with him, which is a bizarre running joke that I am going to start applying as a rule in my own life. But it turns out that Pete had a girlfriend, which means Jess needs to find a way to get her pseudo-sext off of his phone, and quickly!

Remember when I said that this episode had high jinks aplenty?

Also at the funeral, Coach is starstruck by J.J. Watt, a client of Pete’s whom I guess is also a real-life sports guy, even though he was also genuinely funny, which is something that rarely happens with athlete TV guest-stars (see: Danny Granger on The Mindy Project, either Manning brother on anything).

Jess doesn’t learn any major lessons about herself or her life, which makes this episode significantly better than most.

Meanwhile, in the most sitcom-y episode description of all time, Schmidt’s mom is coming to town, just as Nick is in the middle of hatching a harebrained scheme! Well, sort of. Mrs. Schmidt (in the Schmidt family tradition, we never learn her first name, either) is in town for no reason other than plot device, and Schmidt sees it as an opportunity to get his bar mitzvah money, which she’s long been withholding from him. See, Schmidt and Nick need money so they can buy a share of the bar (which I just realized doesn’t have a name, either), and the Swuit, which is pleasingly called back, only got them so far.

Now, because this is a sitcom, Schmidt isn’t going to just ask his mother for the money, because he’s a grown-ass man. He’s also not going to mention the fact that he supposedly still has a high-paying job writing ad copy for generic products. No, instead, he’s going to have to play by her twisted rules: He can only get the bar mitzvah money if he writes thank-you notes to everyone who gave him a bar mitzvah check.

By the way, thank-you-note procrastination is not a subject hit upon in pop culture nearly enough. I need a club anthem called “Couldn’t I Just Call You?” or something.

In order to figure out everyone who was at his bar mitzvah, Schmidt needs to do some detective work. Good thing his roommate is a cop who’s been looking for an excuse to hang out with his partner. That’s right, Nasim Pedrad and her perfect ombré hair are back, only this time, she wants nothing to do with Winston. The reason why is pretty clear to anyone who’s ever watched anything — she’s afraid of feelings developing between herself and Winston — but Winston is determined to strong-arm her into an extracurricular hangout, anyway.  

I’m not quite sure how I feel about Cece meeting Schmidt’s mom at the nail parlor, especially since it sets in motion the idea that Mrs. Schmidt might become a much bigger character, and if I’m being honest, I didn’t love her. She wasn’t specifically weird. She was like a recycled Jewish-mom character from Curb Your Enthusiasm. It was exactly what I expected Schmidt’s mom to be like, and I was really hoping to be surprised.

Either way, it’s fun that the gang owns (part-owns, whatever) a bar now, especially given the recently posited “Diet Always Sunny” theory of New Girl. Maybe that’s the direction we can expect in the newly promised season five. If that’s the case, all the more reason to celebrate.