New Girl: Trouble in Paradise

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Apr 11, 2012

New Girl S01E20: “Normal”

“It’s like we’re living in a romantic comedy montage,” Jess explained to CeCe early in last night's episode of New Girl, “Normal.” And with those words, she heralded in the first real fight between herself and her fancy rich old-guy boyfriend because that’s how it works in TV Land. As soon as you declare yourself happily ever after, everything goes to hell.

But that notion might not be too far off from reality. Frankly, I’m surprised Russell and Jess made as far as they did without any real threat to their opposites-attract union. I’m glad Russell has turned out to be so likeable because if he wasn’t, this prolonged courtship would have been painful; instead, the rich-old-guy-dates-quirky-twentysomething-gal plot has turned out not to be the suck that I thought it would be. I might even be legitimately sad when Russell and Jess inevitably break up—and let’s face it, they WILL eventually break up, because Dermot Mulroney is only a guest star and we can’t tie Jess down in the first season. (Schmidt is another story, of course, as things with Cece seem to be going quite well.)

Now, the question that begs an answer is this: What’s going to finally do the adorable duo in? They’ve survived the bad first impression and the awkward first date. Jess seems to be adapting well to hanging out in the upper echelon of society and in “Normal” we saw that Russell can also blend into his significant other’s crowd with only a minimum of drama and bloodshed. According to Jess, “That wasn’t even the first stabbing this month,” and Russ accepted it with a slight squawking.

Ultimately, Russ accepted Jess’s deranged friends, her condemned elevator, and the possessed garbage disposal and it’s been my experience that those odd little details are often the hardest parts of a relationship to accept, particularly in a relationship that, on paper, looks as mismatched as the one between Jess and Russ. The unfamiliar tends to be a little bit scary, especially when paired with the terror that is also inherent to cultivating a strong relationship between two adults. There’s always the risk that there’s too much unfamiliar terrain to map, that the locations on the map end up being nowhere anyone wants to go.

But no healthy relationship can exist in a vacuum. In fact, a relationship that can only exist in isolation, sequestered from outside influences because they crumble at the slightest provocation, is probably the worst kind of relationship there is. A partnership with an individual is a partnership with his or her family, friends, and malfunctioning kitchen appliances—what Jess called her “normal” during the obligatory make-up scene.

And despite his initial doubts, fancyman Russell seemed to accept it all, which both delighted and concerned me because against my better judgment, I like Russ and Jess as a pair and I’m glad they continued to prove to everyone that they work as a couple this week. Unfortunately, every episode in which they successfully do that makes me dread the inevitable one where they can’t.

On a lighter note, did anyone else think that the True American drinking game looked like an amazingly fun and horrible idea? It reminded me of the time a bunch of friends and I tried to turn 4 Corners (yes, the game second-graders play when it’s raining outside and recess is stuck indoors) into a drinking ended about as well as you’d expect.


– Which drinking game would you rather play? New Girl's True American or It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's CharDee MacDennis?

– What did you think of Kareem Abdul Jabbar's guest appearance?

– What were your favorite jokes/one-liners this episode?

  • Comments (16)
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  • ColinSmith4 Apr 13, 2012

    "Habberdash on the fly?"

  • TrueTvWatcher Apr 12, 2012

    This was a hilarious and moving episode! I'd rather play true american and Kareem Abdul Jabbar's guest appearance was fun. To many to remember but I definitely liked them all!

  • SokkaAppa Apr 12, 2012

    Winston: "you scared of black people.. come on this is 2012!" i died.

  • KevinG87 Apr 12, 2012

    love this show. my favorite jokes/one-liners were the quoting of Aladdin and Spice Girls

  • pcsjunior002 Apr 12, 2012

    -True American, that game sounded like a lot of fun! (Also, I know none of the rules, so if you've figured any of them out, let me know)

    -Underused. If you're going to use Kareem Abdul Jabbar in a sports reference, do something better with him. Unless he's going to be recurring, in which case they got it off to a good start.

    -I loved the whole True American bit and the book of ideas.

    Also, I LOVE Schmidt and Cece. Keep them together. A long time (or forever).

  • Metricstation3 Apr 12, 2012

    I would rather play True American. I'm not really down with darts being thrown at my hand...

  • pudgebyrd722 Apr 12, 2012

    I love this show so much but I am so ready for Russell and Jess to break up, because the age difference is kinda scary and nasty in my opinion and the fact that we now know they're sleeping together only makes it worse.

  • MightyMad Apr 12, 2012

    ... Seriously, can some explain (or just make-up) rules to True American so we can all play it already?

  • pitzerLN Apr 12, 2012

    I found this write up of the rules on Tumblr today - seems accurate from what I could tell

  • CarolTonks Apr 12, 2012

    Thanks! I was looking for it too!

  • MightyMad Apr 12, 2012


    I'm half-way through the rules... holy crap, does it looks hard! And I'm not even drunk!!!

  • GreenyFool Apr 12, 2012

    I absolutely adore this show. The only hilarious show to come out of America since Arrested Development. Too many crappy "comedies" like The Big Bang Theory around at the moment.

    That said, CharDee MacDennis wins every time. :)

  • Watashii Apr 12, 2012

    I didn't like this episode. Maybe because of the drinking game or the other nonsense that was going around. I agree with someone who said that they are overdoing the sex jokes with Cece and Schmidt. Its good to see Winston getting some development but not so much. I think Kareem/Winston parts were the funniest in this episode but not that funny. I'm starting to get confused on what kind of character Jesse is. Like I thought she was this goody-two shoes, hipster person but now she is like a total dork 24/7. She's becoming worse than a stereotypical blonde girl. Seriously. I thought the previous episode about Cece was the best so far of the season.

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