“Bathtub” is kind of a problem for New Girl. It’s not a bad episode by any stretch, but it makes me worry about the next few weeks. I understand it’s unfair to criticize a show for things it hasn’t even done yet, but “Bathtub” does set up potential future problems.
Let’s first consider Angie, played by Olivia Munn. New Girl has had its fair share of celebrity significant others, from Lizzy Caplan, Justin Long and Dermot Mulroney to now Nelson Franklin’s Robby (more on him in a moment.) These characters are fun during their arcs, but episodes that focus on them never really serve much of a purpose other than to get some sort of revelation out of the main characters. Or if you’re Caplan, you’re here one moment, gone the next, without any real impact. That being said, Munn is quite good here and seems to be a perfect foil for Nick, who before he meets her has decided her name is Thirsty Mendleson. But I can imagine that Angie will be just another way for Nick to realize that his life isn’t going the way he’s wanted and that he should rise up on his future instead of living in the present.
Now: poor, poor Robby. He never had a chance. Cece’s nice-guy boyfriend was always more character device than actual character, and last week seems to be the last time we’ll ever see him. The two have broken up since Cece wants kids and Robby isn’t ready yet. This works perfectly with Schmidt’s recent revelation that he’s in love with Cece.
“Bathtub” is a particularly Schmidt-focused episode, as he’s ready for two very important meetings: one for Double V, a vodka with vitamins that could give him a huge promotion, and a meeting with Cece to plead his case for her love and her babies. Cece agrees to go on a date with Schmidt, but Schmidt gets so drunk from his other meeting that he misses his date, passing out on Cece after showing up several hours late. With Schmidt’s unconscious head in her lap, she calls her mother to set her up on some dates.
While the Schmidt and Cece relationship seemed like it was on its way to the inevitable reunion, almost too perfectly, Cece’s change of heart sets up the potential for just another string of Robbys. This just feels like another way to drag out the healthiest relationship on New Girl. It also doesn’t seem quite fair that Cece turn her back so quickly on Schmidt, especially when you consider the level of alcohol poisoning he probably got from his meeting, which will now help pay for his and Cece’s children’s college fund, as he states before he blacks out.
Jess and Winston have their own little adventure together, which is almost always a great pairing. Winston and Jess both want a bathtub, but when they hide a bathtub on the roof of their building, it leaks onto all of Schmidt’s suits. Instead of cleaning them or telling Schmidt the truth, the two pretend that meth-heads raided their house and took all the suits. It’s like an idea from a ‘90s sitcom, but it’s still fun—especially the reveal that whenever Winston gets nervous, he runs away screaming while taking off his clothes.
But the best aspect of “Bathtub” isn’t Jess’ impression of what she believes a meth-head acts like, or Schmidt’s binder he keeps at his work desk of him in all his various suits; it’s when Schmidt returns to the apartment, defeated from losing Cece once again. Now he knows that he’s in love, the pain is even worse than it was before. There’s no remnant here of the Schmidt who must constantly donate to the Douchebag Jar or the stuck-up Schmidt who calls a bathtub a “medieval filth cauldron.” Now he’s a defeated man. Sure he’s got the big promotion, but he doesn’t have Cece, so what’s the point? In his pain, he finds comfort in two of his friends, Jess and Winston.
That’s what’s at the core of New Girl and where the show started off. These are friends who have all been burned in love and relationships, but however rough they have it, they always have their friends to fall back on to help pick them up. Now it seems like only a matter of time before someone will have to pick up Nick after things with Angie (probably) don’t work out.