New Girl seems to be settling into a Jess-less routine, one that relies on half of the gang playing around with guest stars while the other half goes off on a character-building adventure. This routine may eventually get stale, but right now it feels like a solid groove to settle into. Last week's LoftBnB bit went over quite well; this week's Bill Burr and Lennon Parham as Nick's Boston cousins are even better.
Plus: No seriously troubling racist-lodger plot! Just some good old-fashioned Boston jokes, which surely we can all get behind.
So Bob (Burr) and Carol (Parham) come to town, an event which initially has Nick concerned that they're going to ask him for money once again. He is, after all, the wealthiest Miller — a fact he knows to be true because when a waiter asks him if he still wants avocado even though the avocado is extra, Nick says yes. New Girl may not always be the best or most sensitive about social issues, but that is about as useful a line to draw between "making it" and "just barely scraping by" as anything else I've heard.
Schmidt chimes in with advice: Stand up for yourself! Set some boundaries! And Nick does a decent job at first, managing to hold himself back from eating the fancy popcorn Carol and Bobby bring from the airport, even though it does come with its own trash can. We soon learn that Carol and Bobby aren't there to ask for Nick's money, nor are they there to follow through with Schmidt's suggestion that they all go take the "cah down to the hahbah and check out The Mahtian on the big screen with Matt Damon and Mahs" — okay, look. I may not be great at transcribing the terrible/excellent faux-Boston accent Schmidt does, but you get the idea.
No, Carol and Bobby are there to ask Nick for his sperm, because they want to start a family but haven't been able to do so with Bobby's equipment. Bobby suggests that this may be because he was stung in the penis "five different times by five different bees, five days in a row,"which begs so many questions that it's probably best to just leave it there.
Nick freaks out, of course, and Schmidt does as well — Schmidt had always pictured Nick having his first child with a small Italian woman named Maria. As it happens, Schmidt actually has an elaborate Nick Life Plan detailing exactly this scenario, but Nick points out that he's a long way away from ever having kids. Once Schmidt realizes this may be the only chance to create a tiny Nick Miller, he's fully onboard.
Outside the donation clinic, the full extent of Bobby and Carol's poor financial planning quickly becomes evident — they cannot afford an IUI procedure, which Schmidt points out is completely absurd. "You guys flew across the country. You didn't think about any of this before?" to which Carol responds, obviously, that they've done "little-to-no research" ahead of time.
This is a completely dumb and utterly implausible turn of events, but it's worth it as the setup for my favorite of the Parham/Burr bits in the episode. (There's a long list of good options, I might add.) Bobby tells Nick that they need him to make this baby the old-fashioned way, and then …
Carol: "We don't just need your reindeer. We need Santa. Come down the chimney. Feet first."
Bobby: "White Christmas."
Carol: "Bring a sack full of gifts."
Making this into a Christmas metaphor is gross and silly, and "White Christmas" is clearly the moment when it becomes just gross and silly enough to be great.
While Nick debates the pluses and minuses of banging his cousin's wife, Winston and Cece are off on a shopping trip for Cece's wedding dress. This makes two weeks in a row where Winston has not just a reasonably sized plot, but also enough characterization to actually seem sort of human-ish. One more week like this and maybe he'll finally turn into a Real Person, not just a Muppet-y collection of tics!
Anyhow, Cece is sad that Jess can't help her find a wedding dress, but Winston's up for the challenge, offering up strapless bras and "booby tape," and generally turning the shopping experience into a drunken dress-up montage scene from Pretty Woman, set to Patti Labelle's "New Attitude." (Shopping with Winston looks pretty fun, I have to say.)
Several cavalier swigs from a Champagne bottle later, Cece and Winston feel like they've finally found the perfect dress. And when they get back home, Cece quickly realizes it's actually horrible. It's covered in mirrors and has a place to put batteries, and Winston agrees that it generally makes her look like "a prostitute for wizards."
I like this plot. I like how bad the dress is. I like "prostitute for wizards," and I like the later "I look like a rich person from the Hunger Games" line even better. But let's all just pause for a moment and consider how fundamentally flawed it is to force Cece to go on a shopping trip for a dress because wedding dresses have a six-month waiting list, only to have her immediately return to the loft with the dress in hand. It's such an easy fix, too! One quick line with the gist of "oh hey, this dress is a sample, you can take it right now!" would've done it! Ugh.
Winston tries putting on his LAPD uniform to convince the salesclerk to return the dress, which does not work at all. But it does allow Cece and Winston to have a really nice, surprisingly human moment where Cece warmly tells Winston how obvious it is that he cares for her, and asks Winston to be one of her bridesmaids. Winston is elated, and I'm just happy he gets a real friend for a second.
Things are not going so well back at the loft, where Nick is having a hard time psyching himself up to the task of "making love" to Carol. "Make love!" she says. "What, are we riding horses around on a beach, topless? No, thank you!" (I love you, Lennon Parham. I am so glad Playing House was renewed.) It doesn't help that Nick lost a very full glass of milk somewhere in his room, and Carol cannot muster even the barest scrap of a compliment to get him going. Schmidt, now fully invested in this baby, comes in and tells Nick to compose himself: "You make a miracle, or I will squeeze one out of you like a bottle of mustard!" But this clearly is not helping, either.
Nick finally nopes out of this whole arrangement, incapable of going through with something so troubling. Schmidt's upset to have lost this chance at a tiny Nick Miller, but it does allow Nick to give Schmidt back the Bears onesie that Carol and Bobby clearly could not allow into their home. (They're Pats fans, obviously.) The Nick Life Plan, including a small Italian woman named Maria who makes meatballs, is back on.
Finally, at the end, we get a nice capper with a Jess stand-in, looking out from a high hotel window at the gang who are arranged outside. Through a handwritten sign, Jess tells them that the dress is "terrible," but she can fix it — which is good, because the mere sight of it causes Schmidt to faint dead away. "I miss you!" she tells the gang. We miss you too, Jess! But it's been kind of nice that you're gone.