New Girl: Trouble in Paradise

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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 game...it ended about as well as you’d expect.


QUESTIONS:

– 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?