Last week, New Girl was all about romance, and charming British gentlemen, and Thanksgiving. This week, that is all set aside, for the most part, so they can focus on a different kind of relationship—friendship. Or, rather, the facsimile of friendship that often exists within situational comedies.
Jess basically has one person from her life prior to moving into the loft that we ever really see. That’s Cece, who is more or less her one female friend. Sure, to be fair, the guys are basically only friends with one another, and then Nick hangs out with Tran, but that’s television for you. Nevertheless, Jess and Cece have a lot of history, some of it bad, and that’s what comes to a head here. When somebody tries to argue with Coach, it’s a swift punch to the gut, and then, in the parlance of our times, they are cool. Not so with Jess and Cece, who have been passively aggressively sniping at one another for 20 years.
Of course, that’s only the beginning. Schmidt decides to get himself involved in their latest fight, and then things explode, leading to the new (but already well-worn) sitcom trope of nonsensical emojis, and beyond. Everything culminates at Nadia’s baby shower, with a tearful fight of words, and then a fight of fists and improvised weapons made of breast pumps. The whole shower bursts into a series of lady fights, much to the delight of Jess and her baby.
With real human people, or at least reasonable human people, that would be the end of that. However, that’s not the case here. Instead, Jess and Cece both let it roll off their backs, and declare it good for their relationship, and whatever stuff the writers decided would somehow justify their “friendship” continuing.
Once again, where this episode of New Girl falls flat is in its dealings with emotions and interpersonal dramatic dynamics. Literally minutes after their fight lands them both in a hospital, Jess and Cece are totally close again. However, watching this episode, the real revelation is that the members of the gang are, by and large, not really friends. They are people who spend time together, and usually can tolerate each other—perhaps they even get along. They are “friends” like the characters on Seinfeld were “friends.” The difference is that Seinfeld never tried to convince you otherwise, or tried to get you to care about the character’s relationships. New Girl won’t give up that ghost.
The reason this show still succeeds is because everything else remains so funny. Schmidt gets some great stuff to do, and, like Tran last week, getting to see Nadia is always a treat. Had this been a baby shower for anybody else, the set piece wouldn’t have been nearly as funny. Fortunately, Nadia was there, saying comically inappropriate things in her delightful Russian accent.
Speaking of Tran—and those of discerning taste are always in the mood for speaking of Tran—the one bit that carried over from last week is Nick’s burgeoning relationship with his granddaughter. These two seem to be made for each other, with their hatred of dates and desire to just lie around eating pizza. In short, Winston figures she’s homeless, and the fact that she sleeps with a newspaper as blanket doesn’t help, but in a twist, she’s actually super rich. Then she pays Nick to not go to work, and stay with her—but at least the show is willing to point out how close this essentially is to prostitution. It wasn’t terribly great or anything, but the newspaper blanket sight gag was funny, and the actress in the role is really good. It will be nice to see her around a little more. It was all really more about setting the table for whatever comes next.
“Girl Fight” delivers what the title promises, in epic fashion, but if it had served the spirit of the ethos embodied in such a title, it would have worked much better. Some things worked in this episode of New Girl, and some didn’t, but the show is strong enough to deliver a good installment, nevertheless.
Chris Morgan is an Internet gadabout who writes on a variety of topics and in a variety of mediums. If he had to select one thing to promote, however, it would be his ’90s blog/podcast, Existential Parachute Pants. (You can also follow him on Twitter.)