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New Girl S03E01: "All In"

Oh New Girl, you slay me. That was a pretty meta season premiere. I know, I know, gettin' meta tends to be a love or hate thing, but the way New Girl seemed to eagerly anticipate and embrace all of our questions as they inevitably arose was no accident. The show knows exactly what it's doing. Pairing up your endgame couple halfway through the second season might seem premature in the face of non-sucky ratings, you know? It is, and New Girl was right there with us, standing in front of the door to the loft thinking, "Now what are we supposed to do?"

Way back at the beginning of time, when New Girl first premiered, lots of people shared the not-entirely-unfounded concern that what we were witnessing was basically The Zooey Deschanel Show. Sure, there were three dudes, but they mostly existed just there to give Jess someone to bounce her quirkiness off of—plus, well, it's hard to move a story along when you don't have any other characters for your protagonist to talk to. Knowing what we know now, those of us who side-eyed half of the first season (guilty as charged) are aware of the error of our (okay, my) ways and embrace New Girl as the high-larious ensemble show that it is—but a fear that the show will somehow lose that inclusiveness remains. Winston, in particular, has suffered from a spotlight deficiency in the past—and I'm not sure that featuring him almost exclusively as "the batshit crazy" roommate is any better when Nick, Jess, and Schmidt all get to revel in their respective big, important relationship stories—but it's certainly a start. 

And let's face it, batshit crazy Winston makes you laugh until you pee a little. 

When we left off last spring, Nick and Jess had ditched Cece's failed wedding to suck face as they drove into their quirky and no-doubt-more-complicated-than-we-initially-believed-it-to-be future. Cece and Shevrang had called off their sham of a union so he could marry Taylor Swift, which left Schmidt in the awkward position of being fawned over by two women between whom he genuinely couldn't—and still can't—decide when it comes to choosing one to date exclusively. His situation with Elizabeth and Cece echoes Jessica's similar predicament with Doctor Sam in the early days of the S.S. Nessy. Deep down, I think we can all agree that after Nick and Jess, Cece and Schmidt are New Girl's OTHER "endgame" couple—and yet, Elizabeth is no cardboard placeholder girlfriend. She's different than Cece, but she's not a "bad" girlfriend" by any means, and it's readily apparent that Schmidt enjoys spending time with her. As of this writing, my personal allegiances are equally divided between Cece and Elizabeth, and I can honestly say that even with my acceptance of Schmidt and Cece as the probable upcoming sequel to Jess and Nick, I'm not passionately pro-Cece and anti-Elizabeth. Elizabeth is a complex, interesting, and fully-developed alternative to Cece, which makes her relationship with Schmidt just as enjoyable to watch as the one he once had, and may have again, with Cece. (You know, up until he was conveniently douched up to pave the way for Nessy's formal launch. but whatever. Last year's holiday episode was still totally PRESH and I still need Jess's coat in my life.)

Nick and Jess fled to Mexico on a whim to avoid dealing with real life back at the loft—or more specifically, to avoid the distractions that living with Schmidt and Winston might impose on them, up to and including those of the exclusively romantic flavor. I loved how, as soon as Jess said "Hey, remember when we lived in a loft and had all those problems?" the phone rang. Jess and Nick can't just hide from the challenges that will inevitably pop up in this new phase of their relationship—we know that, the writers know that, and by the end of "All In," Jess and Nick had come to know that. After a brief stay in Mexican "resort prison," they're finally ready to re-enter the real world, where they have to actually work at things. 

The S.S. Nessy's course is plotted for the foreseeable future on New Girl, but most ships are incapable of travel without a highly skilled crew, and any worries about the terribly shiny and squee-worthy Nick-and-Jess adventures overshadowing the stories of their roommates were quickly sunk with a line from Jess that translates to both a literal meaning and a gross, mushy, touchy-feely one.

Jess calmed Paradise Nick's panicky butt with, "There's no 'us' without Schmidt and Winston," which is true in the sense that New Girl would be a drastically different (and arguably less-awesome show) without them, but the notion is also revealing of the esteem with which Jess, and New Girl's writers, have for Winston and Schmidt. We can scream and flail over Jess/Nick week in and week out—and you know I'mma be right there with you—but at the end of the day, New Girl is a weird little show about four roommates who each bring something important to the table and enable the others to be the best people they can be. Case in point? Schmidt's frantic calls to AWOL Nick. Schmidt knew that dating Cece and Elizabeth at the same time was wrong, but he needed some guidance from his best friend in order to sort out his feelings. His inability to connect with Winston was played for laughs, but like so many points on New Girl, underneath all the lulz was a heartfelt story about a guy who needed help from his friend... and unfortunately, Winston just couldn't fill that role in the way Schmidt needed. That's not a point against Winston or Schmidt, btw, that's just how some friendships work. 

ANYWAY, despite that unfortunate passport-shredding incident, the gang made it back from our neighbor south of the border relatively unscathed, and IDK about you but I am "all in" for the impending awesomeness of Season 3! Bust out the monkey-shaped pinatas! 


– Quote of the night (OMG SO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM): "I'm not just a plug with her... I'm also a socket." —Schmidt

– Why was Winston wearing a sweatshirt as pants? Was it some sort of reference to this guy? You know what? I don't want to know. 

– Poor Schmidtty spent a lot of time being disgusted this week. "DISGUSTING GARBAGE TRASH PERSON!"

– Hopes and dreams for the rest of the season? I'm crossing my fingers that Nick/Jess doesn't devolve into a cycle of breaking up and making up. C'mon, New Girl, you're better than that! 

What'd you think of the season premiere?

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