New Girl "The Box" Review: The One Where Everyone Is Awful

New Girl S03E05: "The Box"


Okay, I take it back. "Double Date" is no longer my least favorite episode of season 5. That honor now belongs to "The Box." That's not to say that "The Box" is an affront to TV audiences everywhere, because it's not. The nice thing with a show like New Girl, which almost consistently airs great episode after great episode, is that when I say that I didn't much care for "The Box," what I mean is that it just didn't measure up to other New Girl greats. Outside of that context, it's still a pretty decent chunk of television. I didn't want to burn my eyeballs out when it was over. I just didn't laugh as hard as usual, and looking over my notes, I don't think there was a single stand-out one-liner. It was just a mediocre episode. 

This week, New Girl continued its Season 3 trend of recycling old sitcom situations and somehow making them better, and despite the rampant mediocrity of "The Box," the show did manage some greatness when it bestowed an unexpected pile of cash upon the loft's resident hot mess, Nick. I loved that it came in a paper bag from one of dearly departed Papa Miller's skeevy associates. LOVED IT.  


What followed was the expected course of Nick blowing all the money (or trying to, anyway), and Winston trying to get the newly flush Nick to pay him back the $1900 he owed him, and Jess... stealing the money to pay off Nick's giant box o' debt? Uh. Okay. Because that's not completely out-of-line with her character at all. The desire to help, sure, that makes sense because Jess is generally a good person who wants to help Nick out, and because dating someone—and theoretically thinking about a longterm commitment with that someone—who has such a complete disregard for his personal finances is SCARY and pretty much the complete antithesis of fun. However, at the end of the day, Jess stole that money. Like, she stole it. It doesn't really matter that she used it for a good thing that would, theoretically, make Nick's life better. It wasn't her money and she took it without asking.


The theme of good people doing bad things formed the backbone of "The Box," though, and in a way, Jess's story this week paralleled the ongoing saga of Schmidt, Cece, and Elizabeth. It's been a rough couple of weeks for Schmidtty after the break-up, what with Cece's refusal to even speak to him and his failed attempt to sink Nessy. Desperate to hear that he's not a bad person, Schmidt terrorized his roommates and his rabbi (a woefully underused Jon Lovitz) and finally, a bike messenger whose life he saved when the dude was hit by a car and started choking on his gum. New Girl's usually elegant PSA execution wasn't quite up to par with the bike messenger's word vomit to Schmidt about how it doesn't really matter how many bike messengers he saves, bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people all the time. 

I guess this is where New Girl lost me, because for as cut-and-dry as the bike messenger's message seemed, the subsequent actions of the show's core characters seemed to muddy the waters a bit. Schmidt went back to his rabbi to whine about the natural state of life, and the rabbi promptly threw him out of class. For all the angsting and raging about Jess trying to "change" Nick and overstepping her boundaries, in the end, Nick put his money in a bank like a non-paranoid person, but then raged about the processing fee—which Jess joined in on because, I guess, like Wise Sage Winston said: Sometimes good people do bad things. Or she just wanted to do something for Nick because he opened a a bank account for her? Idk. 


So... what's the takeaway here? Being a good person doesn't matter? That's kind of nihilistic for New Girl. The concession that good people do bad things without becoming bad people is such a rich concept to explore. Unfortunately, it felt like in "The Box," New Girl somehow got lost in its antics. The show's bizzare need to cram a Nessy story into what honestly might have benefited from a heavier focus on Schmidt (or even Winston, I mean, he did steal Daisy's cat), plus an unusual lack of focused writing, worked against the episode from almost the beginning. "The Box" wasn't bad. It was just okay. Okay? Okay. 

What did you think?


NOTES FROM THE DOUCHEBAG JAR

– BANK LADY IS THE BEST! <3

– Nick and the vintage purses and the window. He is dead to me. DEAD TO ME. 

– Where was FERGUSON? 

– Of course Jess sent cash. Of course she did. 

– "You're a terrible person and it's hilarious." 

– Wise Sage Winston was okay, though. He can stay. Alternate him with Creepy Weirdo Winston every once in awhile, give him some human interaction, and I think y'all have a fully realized character on your hands, New Girl! 


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Oct 19, 2013
If there was one thing I took from this episode, it was: Damn Schmidt can run! Seriously? Did anyone else besides me notice that? He ran like a frickin' Terminator. I swear, the way he was going, if a bus had pulled out in front of him, he would have blown a hole through it without stopping.
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Oct 17, 2013
Its been 1 chuckle per episode for the last 4 now, New Girl. So disappointing.
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Oct 17, 2013
If Nick owes someone money under violation of an agreement to pay for goods or services received in kind, and he has the money, then technically he is stealing the money from the people he owes. Jess merely recovered the money for its rightful owners.
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Oct 20, 2013
yea Nick was pretty unlikable with this
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Oct 17, 2013
How has no one mentioned the crazy guy in the bar with one of the funniest bits I've ever seen on TV. Not only does he say "For $50 I'll show you my privates" but he follows it up with some ridiculous twitch that had me laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. Screw bank lady, crazy drunk guy was the MVP of this episode
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Oct 17, 2013

The episode wasn't the best, but there were some parts that had me laughing out loud. Lionleanne is right that the bedroom scene where Nick was going through Jess' things was pretty funny ("Why do you need Bobby's pins to put your hair back?" "We wanna be playing a saxophone in an alley and have you walk by in a miniskirt with a purse with gems! But you girls don't listen!")

Nick & Jess have amazing comic chemistry. Does anyone remember their exchange from season 1 episode 4 "Naked" - "Not like a ghoul!" That was just about the funniest thing I've ever seen on any screen small or big. The exchanges between the two of them are THE reason I watch this show.

I think these scenes have some improvised lines in them because you can see Zooey Deschanel reacting to some stuff Nick says that really seems like she's not expecting it - things that make her laugh that she doesn't seem to have heard before. Watch her reaction to the "ghoul" remark from episode 4. Either that or she is a mindnumbingly authentic actress. She's a good actress, but I still think there's an element of improved material.
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Oct 17, 2013
Though I have to admit the part that made me laugh out loud was when Nick was going through Jess's Bedroom, the day peanuts :P Favourite line
"Why do you have metal toothpicks in your room?". Although, I think this episode was more of a try hard episode from the writers, to get the sitcom type laugh but, It ended up not working as well. I just like when they play to the character(especially new crazy Winston, I love new crazy Winston) I find that is where they get the most laughs and I hope they get back to that.
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Oct 16, 2013
Schmidtty was almost unbearable in this episode. He tends to walk the line between well-intentioned douche and incredible jackass, and he's basically full-tilt ass lately and completely losing the sweetness that he needs in order to be a character you (which is to say, I) root for.

They are not doing the Jess and Nick storyline well. Mostly because they are pretty much only focusing on it--last season felt like there was a nice balance between Jess and Nick getting together and other stuff. Now it's just all Jess and Nick all the time. *yawn* Where's Cece? I know she's mad at Schmidt, but she's still Jess's best friend.

There is never enough Winston. Never enough Winston. The writers are idiots who don't understand that Winston is comic gold and should be utilized pretty much always. The loft is best when everyone is involved--too much individual stories these days, and not enough Winston.
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Oct 16, 2013
Arggghh I have started hating Nick more (if that's possible), he is such an idiot, and not in a cute innocent manner but rather in a stupid unbearable manner. I felt like muting the voice when he comes up on TV. He has become my most unbearable character on TV after almost all the characters in Once Upon a Time.

P.S. WHICH EPISODE WILL COACH COME IN??? (The only reason why I still keep watching).
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Oct 16, 2013
this show started going downhill since mid season 2...
I was hooked on the first season, now I can't bare through a single episode
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Oct 16, 2013
Loved wise sage Winston he makes Winston more like a character you wanna hang out with cause even though creepy Winston is fun he probably would do some weird sh*t you would prefer you didn´t get to watch.
Bank Lady is awesome she deserves more weird appearances.
I am starting to think wise Winston can't be in the same room with Ferguson, only logical explanation (accordint to me) that he didn't appear in this episode.
Why does Nick hate vintage purses? why so much hate? is it true that men prefer shiny purses? really? are men like birds who are attracted to shiny objects?
Yeah good episode not great but it had it's good moments.
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Oct 17, 2013
Yes, we are attracted to shiny objects. How is this news?
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Oct 16, 2013
I think you're looking for something that may have not been there, MaryAnn. Being good matters. Jess is good and intentions were good, but her action was bad. She was rewarded with Nick opening a bank account like a grownup and she rewarded him by going on a Nick-like conspiracy theory rant. Schmidt is bad and did something good, but he wanted reward for that act when the satisfaction that he saved a life should have been enough.
"Nick and the vintage purses and the window. He is dead to me. DEAD TO ME." <<
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Oct 16, 2013
Bank Lady was clearly the MVP of this ep.

Loved Papa Miller's "skeevy associate". LOL at him running away after delivering the cash.

Winston can do no wrong ^_^
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Oct 16, 2013
"Wait until you have children and you stop touching each other." Bank lady.
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Oct 16, 2013
Wise Sage Bank Lady.
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Oct 16, 2013
I agree with the reviewer totally! Not bad but not as good as we're used to New Girl...
In fact, this week, exceptionally, The Mindy Project was better than New Girl (blasphemy? sorry) though that is mainly because Chris Messina is AWESOME and we saw B&W pictures of him in the buff...
And yeah, I kept wishing for Ferguson to make an appearance... He is a total scene stealer...

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Oct 16, 2013
I hate to say it, but this episode really sucked in my opinion. I kept alternating between actively hating it or just being completely apathetic about what was going on.

For one, all that character development I thought was starting to kick off between Nick and Jess since last episode went right out the door. What happened to communicating with each other? I get that Jess was trying to help out Nick, but stealing his money is not okay! And Nick's "the IRS can go fuck itself" MO got old really really quickly. I guess both of them just seemed really immature and unfunny.

I think for Schmidt, his storyline was, as you said, muddy. I didn't really understand what the final takeaway was supposed to be. Granted, running around a bar mitzvah class and getting up by two rabbis was kind of funny, I just didn't really care about his struggles because he really deserved it all.

I don't know...maybe next week will be better. Let's hope.
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Oct 16, 2013
I laughed until I couldn't breathe during the purse fight. I need to start these episodes twice to catch the jokes I missed while nearly dying of asphyxiation. Complain about character development all you want (I personally thought there were some nice moments of personal growth in the episode), but the main reason I watch comedies is to laugh. Which I did, in spades.
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Oct 16, 2013
Actually, Winston was the most reasonable of the four in this episode. The man wanted his money back (granted he didn't ask for it directly) and saw a chance there. Schmidt, on the other hand, was just useless. He used to be the kind of person who wanted validation from total strangers but I thought he had overcome that last season.
Nick also returned to early-Season-1-Nick (we already know he is irresponsible and lazy) and Jess was not right going through Nick's stuff. All in all, not the best episode ever.
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Oct 16, 2013
Urgh. I can't believe what the writers are doing to these characters! Ever since "Double Date" I've hated every single one of them. I'm going to go on a really really long rant now, so if you don't want to hear it, I suggest you keep scrolling down the comments.

I'll start with Schmidt, since his character has fallen the most, and was certainly the worst, in "The Box". What makes it so painful is that at the end of "Double Date" I did have sympathy for Schmidt. He's explanation for cheating on Cece answered it all - he's a man that was never used to getting attention from women, and then he had two and didn't know what to do. He didn't want to hurt anyone, the situation just escalated out of his control, and I really think he didn't even know who to choose. It's how Schmidt's reacted to his break ups in "The Captain" and now in "The Box" that has really compromised his character, and I find it beyond frustrating. He spent "The Captain" blaming Jess and Nick for his situation, one he clearly caused himself (which is not unheard of, and may have been forgivable), but then went as so far to try and break them up as vengeance. For something he did! By the end of the episode he was told to accept the results of his actions, and apparently that meant in "The Box" trying to receive validation that he was a good person. At this stage, Schmidt, you're not, and your roommates practically told you that. And being the self-centred man that he is, he thought that helping other people (only to make himself feel good) was the answer. Accept that didn't work for him, and in the end of the episode his revelation was that bad things happen to good people, so there's no point in being good at all (despite the injured cyclist he helped telling him that 'moral integrity is the cornerstone of humanity'. What a wise man, excusing the eating while cycling incident. Seriously, that is a great life mantra, I'm going to get it inscribed on something, but I digress). Anyway, Winston committed the most selfless act in the episode (an almost sane act as well, which is very odd behaviour for him) by giving Schmidt a candelabra and some sound advice - as long as you are constantly striving to be a better person, then you are. So of course the first thing Schmidt does is imply that he's throwing the candelabra at the back of his closet. So the point of this painful experience was what, New Girl writers?

Onto Nick, and by extension, Jess. Nick received a large bag of money from his father's estate, and instantly went on a ridiculous shopping spree. Nick's careless spending alone would be enough for me to hate him as a person in real life, but the fact that he did it instead of paying his bills, or even worse, paying back one of his best friends - is almost unforgivable. Nick's always been childish though, and the storyline was obviously designed to highlight that in "The Box" so it could raise an inevitable point in his and Jess's relationship, but for me the writers took the idea of Nick's reckless spending too far to find it funny. While not on the scale of Schmidt and Nick, Jess a as person should have really known better then to go through Nick's things, not only that, but use his money to pay his bills. Yes, he's childish and, yes, he was spending his money wrong, but it's one thing to tell someone that they need to change and stop what they are doing, compared to doing it for them. She spent his money to pay his bills, and that didn't sit well with me, or Nick, obviously. His response was typical of a character presented as being so childish - he proceeded to go into Jess's room and throw her possessions out the window. That's definitely the best way to solve an argument. Nick told Jess he was sick of her trying to change him, that if she loved him, she'd let him be. Jess was the better man in the situation and she wrote Nick a cheque for the money she spent, which was undoubtedly the right thing to do. But as it generally is in sitcoms with a heavy romantic focus, New Girl had to end with the couple on a high note, and Nick decided to open a bank account with the money. Nick compromised, and I suppose something positive could be said on that, but when one makes a compromise, they shouldn't think that they are only doing it for their partner, but for the both of them. The only reason Nick opened the bank account is because he loves Jess and doesn't want to lose her. It was a selfish act. Jess, in turn, also compromised, highlighting that Nick may not be wrong about everything, and complaining about the eight dollar processing free for the account. Is the bank fee right? No. But should Jess and Nick have the fee waved for complaining too much. Definitely not. As with Schmidt's storyline, what does this conclusion teach Nick, New Girl writers? That he can be childish and careless in regards to his and the lives of others without any consequences, because everyone eventually folds when you're stubborn enough, that's what. What I think the show should have emphasised with Jess and Nick's relationship in this episode is that relationships are certainly about being yourself, but they are also about being a better having the person you're with in your live instead of being by yourself. They make you a better person, and improve your lifestyle, and Nessy did not encapsulate this at all, but did the exact opposite.

New Girl took a daring and commendable risk by delving into such philosophical topics such as what it means to be a good person, and the idea of personal space as well as growth and compromise in a relationships in "The Box". Unfortunately it perfectly showcased just how self-centred, condescending and childish all of its characters are. I know many people thought that Jess and Nick getting together would ruin New Girl, but in my opinion it's the shows inability to give its characters direction (Jess and Nick as individuals in their relationship, Schmidt as a man without one, and Winston, who they've always had difficulties with) that has made the show a difficult watch for the past three to four episodes. Maybe I'm focusing too much on the dramatic in what is primarily a a comedy series, but when several episodes in a row feature characters in heated arguments, it's not hard to see where my criticism is coming from. I'm hoping this is just a slump, and that the writers are able to quickly move on past these storylines into something else, but considering how I feel now about the show and where its characters are, I'm extremely worried.
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Oct 16, 2013
Great analysis, man! Nick's irresponsible behaviour was really frustrating and seeing it actually pay off in the bank at the end was downright infuriating.
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Oct 16, 2013
Why did everyone suddenly become an unlikeable idiot this season? The writers seem desperate.
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Oct 16, 2013
I have to admit I would have done what Jess did. Nick just didn't seem responsible.
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Oct 16, 2013
I thought it was a weak episode and made Jess look bad.
I had a lot of sympathy for Schmidt previously - he was a dick, but they never gave him the slightest chance to rectify the situation - and now I have even more sympathy for him.
Everyone he lives with basically called him a bad person to his face.
But Jess tries to change Nick, steals his money and breaks his trust, but because she is in a relationship this is supposed to be fine?

The lack of crazy Winston antics in this episode may also have been a factor in my opinion of this episode
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Oct 16, 2013
If you'll allow me, I would like to vehemently disagree with your take on Jess & Nick's story line.

- Jess tried to change Nick because what Nick was doing was illegal and self-destructive. What, she's supposed to be fine with that just because they're in a relationship?
- She didn't steal his money, she used it to pay his bills. Yes, she should've tried to talk to him first, but ultimately, she was just looking out for him.
- She didn't knowingly break his trust, and once she realized she did, she tried her best to reverse her actions. Sure, perhaps the honest thing would've been to tell Nick right away, but there was never any bad intent on her side.
- No one said that all of this is supposed to be fine because she's in a relationship.
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Oct 18, 2013
She did knowingly break his trust, Nick clearly expressed his opinion and Jess showed no faith in him.
When you take someone else's money without their permission or with no legal right, it is stealing. Yes she may have thought she was doing the right thing, but that doesn't change facts
She should have talked to him about the situation, her feelings about it and the implications both legally and with regard to their relationship. Instead she stole his money, went against Nicks expressed wishes which reveals an implied belief of moral superiority on Jess' behalf.
And she would never do this to someone she was not in a relationship with, for fear of the repercussions
I am not saying there was any bad intent, but this is an example of her blinkered morality.
My main problem is the fact that her friendship with Cece meant more than her friendship with Schmidt. She didn't give him a chance to resolve the situation himself or explain his feelings. A more reasoned response would have been to give Schmidt a week to sort the situation and then tell Cece rather than her solution which hurt everyone and ruined the loft dynamic.

The lack of empathy toward Schmidt might be understandable, but its a cruel thing to call someone a bad person - and I didnt think Jess was capable of being so intentionally cruel to another human being
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Oct 16, 2013
You slider-ed your way into my heart!

I make a little bit of money and you come slipping out of the the woodword!?!

That's a great idea. Go get loaded. You deserve it. Blackout.

I think i like drunk Nick better than regular Nick. His monologue about paper, gold, silver, and brass blew my mind.
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Oct 16, 2013
Bank lady is my new favourite character.
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Oct 16, 2013
Now you know Nick and Jess are perfect for each other, because a less quirky girl would've dumped his ass for not paying his bills.
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Oct 16, 2013
I'm going to keep my money where my mouth is. Under my nose.
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Oct 16, 2013
Nick Miller: Terrible man, perfect boyfriend.
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Oct 16, 2013
I have nothing specific to say... this show is coasting at its peak and every single moment is enjoyable.
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