One of the biggest draws of New Girl is also its biggest deterrent, the constantly chipper Zooey Deschanel. Last week New Girl introduced Lizzy Caplan to the show as Nick’s new girlfriend Julia, a girl who is like the anti-Zooey in almost every way. In the episode “Jess & Julia”, we get to see the personification of the portion of the audience that doesn’t like Deschanel go head-to-head with her and her cutesy ways.
When Jess gets a speeding ticket for speeding up in an attempt to miss an injured baby bird, she enlists the help of Julia, who just so happens to be a lawyer. Jess is first wary of her when she says that she just isn’t a dessert person, after Jess has laid a perfect-looking cupcake in her lap. But when Julia states that she gets Jess’ whole thing, the “scared baby, animals help her dress in the morning, large and cute eyes,” Jess is immediately thrown into not liking Nick’s new girlfriend. At the same time, we see that Nick and Julia are both afraid to label their relationship. Instead of telling each other how they feel, they both resort to making the other think that they are seeing several other people as well.
Meanwhile, Schmidt is upset with the now overabundance of women in his apartment, upset that his towel is always damp because girls make everything wet, and he even decides to move his towel and humidifier into his room where he states, “nothing ever gets wet.” During all this, Winston, still fresh from Latvia, decides to call his old booty call in attempt to rekindle their “relationship.” Once he goes on a date with her, he realizes that he doesn’t really have any game at all.
By the end, in typical New Girl fashion, everything is resolved. Jess brings Julia into her growing group of girl friends through knitting. Julia and Nick decide to be an official couple and Winston turns his awkward date into a potential relationship. All the while Schmidt figures out the case of the moist towels by finding out that he and Nick have been accidentally using the same towel for God knows how long.
Caplan has been a very fun addition to the cast so far. Her humor on previous shows like The Class and Party Down has showcased her style and attitude in a way that always makes her a pleasure to watch, and she does the same here. The only worry is that when a bigger name guest stars (see Justin Long), it seems like just a ticking clock until their certain episodes are up and they’re never to be seen again. It would be very nice to be wrong about this with Caplan, but the chances are slim.
In “Jess & Julia,” we also get a nice change of pace. While the first few episodes dealt with the guys coping with having a girl as a roommate, the rest of the series has mostly been dominated by Jess reacting to living with three other guys. Tonight, we get the introduction of Jess’ group of girl friends. We get Cece as usual, but the show also throws in June Diane Raphael, also from Party Down, as Sadie, a lesbian gynecologist that Schmidt would like to talk about similar interests with. Sadie comes out of nowhere, but Raphael is a great comedian that could be a fun new friend for Jess and could lead to plenty of money ending up in the Douchebag Jar.
After last week’s Schmidt-heavy episode (and frankly, most episodes are pretty Schmidt-heavy), it’s good to see him on the backburner, letting Nick and Winston get a bit more action. It doesn’t seem like Winston has had this much camera time since “Bells,” but it’s always fun when we see more of what makes Winston tick, as he is still coping with the huge change since leaving Latvia.
With the last few episodes, New Girl has become more about making sure its characters are well-rounded, and the fact that the writers are able to do this with new characters that bring new elements to the core cast is exciting. As we learn more about Jess, her group of friends and the presence of more women on the show increasing, the show is dealing with its main characters and new characters in a way that is deepening each episode in a satisfying way.