Tuesday, November 25, 2014

REVIEW: 'New Girl' - The Loft Has a Dinner Party & No One Is Single By the End of It in 'Thanksgiving IV'

FOX's New Girl - Episode 4.09 "Thanksgiving IV"

With winter coming and everyone still single, Schmidt initiates a "Bangs-giving"-themed Thanksgiving dinner party, to which everyone must bring someone compatible for someone else.

Admittedly, I haven't been enjoying the last few episodes of New Girl. It has just felt like the show has been taking typical sitcom plots and throwing its characters into them in as many wacky ways as possible. The broadest characteristics of everyone in the loft have been pushed to the forefront. But that hasn't made character development a priority lately.

I do, however, think that "Thanksgiving IV" is going to be a turning point for the season. The romantic entanglements have been a major focus for every character this fall. It's the show trying to reestablish its fun and wacky roots. At times, it has worked. But wacky hijinks isn't the highest form of comedy New Girl should aspire to be right now. It has proven its ability to mine emotional developments from its characters. Remember back when Nick and Jess were first giving in to their chemistry? That was strong and rich character development. Sure, their relationship wasn't that great and the fact they still living together has never gone above anything other than awkward. But, at one point in time, Nick and Jess were allowed to have character development.

That makes Nick and Jess both realizing they have insecurities about dating again seem like such wonderful character realizations. The show has been presenting Jess with so many cute white guys this season, while Nick has been having meaningless sex as well. And now, both are being given new love interests who could be sticking around for something meaningful. Moreover, they are now accepting that they need to let their guards down in order to have something real with someone else again. That is strong character work and almost makes the start of this season seem worth it for getting these characters to this point.

The plot of "Thanksgiving IV" is played initially as a joke. The entire gang will invite a person to the loft for Thanksgiving for someone else in the gang to have sex with. It's a strong reminder of the start of the season where Schmidt proclaims they need to be with people before winter. It's not that strong of a deadline. The gang doesn't live in an area that gets snow during the winter and makes it hard to make connections outside. However, the gang compiles to Schmidt's suggestion and pull names out of a hat. And almost every date actually does provide some meaningful romance for everyone in the group - with the sole exceptions being Schmidt and Cece. The rest of them all come face to face with a person who could be more than just a meaningless hook-up. They are opening up to the possibility for more. That desire makes these characters seem real and worth watching and rooting for.

And then, there's Schmidt and Cece whom the show is determined to once again put back together. Their entire dynamic together is one based on sex. It has never gone deeper than that. That is a major problem. Schmidt's desire to be with Cece again in a sexual way is the only thing driving their interactions. That is a major problem. It doesn't make me want them back together more. It makes me desperately want something major to chance in their dynamic. I'm just sick of Schmidt helplessly pining after Cece. Something needs to change and fast.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Thanksgiving IV" was written by David Feeney and directed by Fred Goss.
  • I just love that Nick picks his own name and then brings Tran to the dinner party. That's amusing but it's also rewarding because Tran's granddaughter shows up in the end. So Nick actually did something great for himself.
  • Coach recognizing that his date let him win at arm wrestling makes me respect his intelligence even more.
  • Of course, Winston had a memorable interaction with a lunch lady when he was 18. Also, he's really into feet right now.
  • Ryan still seems almost too perfect. Something has to be wrong with him eventually, right?