The post-Super Bowl episode of any TV show always has to walk a fine line in not only gaining new audiences, but also living up to the hype of its new time spot for current fans. When The Simpsons did it, they took their episode directly to the Super Bowl, filled with football references, yet still enough humor to get the football illiterate (i.e. myself) interested. Or perhaps the most brilliant example, when Alias seduced its viewers with a lingerie-clad Jennifer Garner for an episode that completely changed the rules of the show, thereby making it fascinating for fans and a great entry point for new viewers.
“Prince” does this as well, by immediately introducing these characters in succinct ways, setting up what this show is (the line “this is why we shouldn’t live with a girl” is even uttered, even though this seems like something that would only be said in the first season) while also being quite a big episode for those of us invested in the Nick and Jess relationship. Oh and Prince is on New Girl. ’Cause when The Kid wants to be on your show, you let The Kid be on your show.
For the fans of New Girl, “Prince” is an important step in the Nick and Jess relationship. On the way to a party at Prince’s house—thanks to Jess and Cece almost getting run over by one of Prince’s assistants—Nick says he loves Jess for the first time, to which she responds … with finger guns. This is a typical TV trope—one person says “I love you,” getting a less than desired response back—but other shows also haven’t had Prince to Mr. Miyagi Jess into saying what she truly feels without passing out.
For the non-fans of New Girl, PRINCE! Prince is incredibly fun here, and who can blame him? The guy got the entire cast of one of his favorite shows to film an entire episode in his actual house. Prince works here as a relationship expert and basically a trainer, who feeds Jess pancakes, destroys her in ping-pong, then teaches her how to say “I love you.” I could definitely use more Prince in my sitcoms, and why not have him pop up every few episodes? Just imagine the type of spinoff Prince could have with Outside Dave!
But in the reintroduction of all of these characters, we get some very strong material from the entire cast. It turns out when you bring Winston and Coach together, they create Fire & Ice, a team that can get into any party and hit on any lady successfully. Schmidt also plans on using this party to find the cooler friends he believes he is destined to join up with. By the end of the episode though, Schmidt runs into Cece’s arms—literally and metaphorically—accepting that his current friends are pretty great, even if they don’t know how to act at parties.
“Prince” also doesn’t pretend that this episode isn’t kind of weird. For example, as Coach drives the guys to the party, he keeps commenting on how great the Ford Fusion is, to which Nick exclaims just how weird this clear promotion is, while Winston, once on a Thursday (“a Thursday?”) got turned on by gas mileage. Then after a surprisingly cheesy, but still enjoyable ending, where Prince sings a new song and the entire cast joins him on stage, everyone sits on their couch shocked at the events that have occurred over the last half-hour, questioning how they move on from this. Frankly, I think it would be great if on Tuesday’s episode, they remained there for the entire half-hour, still in shock.
But considering the hype accompanying “Prince,” it ended up being one of the most hilarious and consistent episodes of New Girl this season, while also upping the stakes for the characters, and did I mention, PRINCE! Now, how do we move on from this?