For some reason, it’s always so much fun to see how your favorite TV characters met. When Friends did it, it was amusing to see the six characters before the lessons and changes that had made them into who they were. How I Met Your Mother and Happy Endings constantly do it. Hell, Lost made it part of the show’s formula. While we’ve seen glimpses of past versions of Nick, Jess, Winston and Schmidt, “Models” gives us a look at moments that created who they would eventually become and started the relationships they still hold dear years later.
“Models” asks the question: would you still be friends with the old friends you have if you met them now? It makes sense to ask this on New Girl. How did Jess ever become BFFs with Cece, a model whose other friends think Jess looks like a monkey from a Russian cracker commercial? Or how did Nick, constantly in a state of bad decisions, live with the neat freak Schmidt for an entire decade?
It’s Cece’s birthday, and Jess is planning on doing what they do on all of her birthdays: eat a cake made by Jess and watch their VHS copy of Clueless. But Cece has different ideas, going out to a club with her model friends. Jess obliges and goes out with them too, but ends up insulting the other models and Cece, which ends in the two of them slapping each other in the boobs. Back at the apartment, Schmidt has brought Nick a cookie. This freaks out Nick, since this means that Schmidt is thinking about him. None of this computes to Nick. While Schmidt and Winston show Nick how they care for him in various ways, Nick has a hard time doing this, since it just never comes into his head.
Through flashback, we see that Jess was there when Cece was discovered by a modeling agency and disregarded Jess. We also see hilariously how Schmidt and Nick met in their freshman dorm, with Nick waking up from nap to find Fat Schmidt watching him and eating uncooked ramen. Somewhere in the New Girl writers’ room, they need to start working on an episode that revolves solely around Nick and Schmidt college flashbacks.
Since Jess says that Cece is getting dumber because of her model friends, Cece drinks too much (with her mouth instead of her butt, like models will do) and the next morning, Jess must take over a modeling job for her. When the second season started with Jess getting fired, I worried that this season would revolve around her trying new wacky jobs every week, but New Girl has made these new attempts at other occupations feel more natural than I expected.
The Nick vs. Winston & Schmidt debacle is hilarious just because Nick does not understand why friends would think of each other. There’s also the fact that Nick is preoccupied with purchasing a turtle, which he plans on naming Jess, and it’s great to see Nick on his own little quest that everyone else couldn’t care less about. His completely self-centered venture is simple, yet works greatly. Nick’s way of solving things is to return the gift, buying Schmidt a black and white cookie that he turned into a Star of David. It’s so weird that this is what Nick believes to be the solution, but the three resolve their issues with a good ol’ bro hug.
“Models” gives the too rarely utilized Cece some great moments, and it’s great to see her humorous side in a scenario that doesn’t involve Schmidt drooling all over her. Cece’s holding back her vomit while Jess apologizes is one of her finest comedic moments. It’s also fun to have Cece’s creepy model friend Nadia making another appearance, as she eggs on Jess to sing like a monkey and is convinced she has met “Wilmer Vamalama.”
“Models” is another great example of how New Girl has learned to evolve its characters and give everyone something to do. It also furthers the story without any sort of romantic entanglements involved, which is also quite rare in this day and age for the sitcom. “Models” ability to question the nature of these friendships, while showing how the importance of their pasts and the origins of the relationships create the people we are, and how important friends can be throughout our lives.