New Girl Review: Leather, Teddy Roosevelt and Wistfulness

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It’s a clash for the ages. Little ol’ Jessica Day from "Main Street America" with her quirky bowler hats and condom-covered-cucumbers comes face to face with a totally, incredibly, normal person who just happens to be straight out of a movie about Wall Street (they’re people, too... I think). So what does Jess do when Russell Schiller (Dermot Mulroney) waltzes into her classroom in "Fancyman (Part 1)?"

She’s awkward and feisty and confused. Essentially, she’s herself. But Tanya, the principal, doesn’t like that Jess confronted Mr. Schiller about his stance on creativity for his daughter (spoiler: he’s against it), and since he’s one of the biggest donors to the school, Tanya demands that Jess apologize.

This doesn’t sit right with Jess, and "Fancyman" quickly becomes a plot about power, a classic American struggle between the have and the have-nots, an age old tale of a pretty girl who accidentally gets soaked when she pushes the wrong button on the Japanese bidet.

Dermot Mulroney on New Girl

Russell isn’t an easy guy to like at first. He’s pompous and condescending, but his actions somehow contradict his tone; he rescues Jess when her car breaks down, gets her car fixed, invites her to his barbecue. These all seem like decent things to do, but they come across as manipulative. For all the ladies out there... didn’t this creep you out? He’s like a scheming Prince Charming, and Jess is on to him. She doesn’t want to become a victim of his upper class charisma. 

Nick commiserates with Jess. Having officially joined the ranks of the financially disenfranchised due to an incredibly low credit score, which bars him from buying a cell phone, Nick is brimming with Occupy rhetoric to fan Jess’ fire. But the rest of the gang isn’t so sure. 

CeCe thinks Russell’s self-sufficiency intimidates Jess. She’s unsure of how to interact with him because she wouldn’t have to take care of him; in fact, he could take care of her. Unlike Jess, CeCe is a power player like Russell, so it’s easy for her to offer advice to our confused little Jess. But is it the right advice? Did you guys bristle at the idea that Jess needs to find a man to take care of her? 

It’s true that Jess should steer clear of relationships where she has to “mother” her significant other, like with Spencer, but giving a guy a chance just because he can take care of you seems like a bad idea. It makes me wonder what, if anything, "Fancyman" is trying to say. 

New Girl is not a political show, but it’s hard to ignore "Fancyman’s" context. Bringing the Occupy rhetoric into a story shouldn’t just be cultural shorthand to suggest financial and political activism; it should mean something. Then, pairing that with overtones of feminism (should Jess give in and date the rich man who can take care of her, or should she stand up for her principles?) in the midst of all the upheaval over women’s rights is a tricky line to walk. 

But, in the end, it seems that Jess can have her cake and eat it too. After struggling with her socio-economic and just plain regular awkwardness around Russell, she discovers that he’s actually a pretty decent guy. She admits that she thinks his stance on his daughter’s creativity is wrong AND still gets to go on a date with him.  

Nick is a different story. His fervent support of the 99% simply drains away when he enters Russell’s home. He’s seduced by the lavishness and masculinity of it all, and has some really hilarious things to say about it. There are a bunch of his one-liners on the New Girl quotes page, but I know I missed some, so leave them in the comments below!

What’s troubling about Nick’s storyline is that Russell’s success and wealth is attributed to him just growing up. We all know Nick needs to mature a little and get basic things like a wallet, but it seems that New Girl came dangerously close to suggesting that people who try to buck the system, people like Occupy Wall Street supporters, need to grow up. 

While Jess and Nick are off trying to stick it to the man, Winston and Schmidt battle it out over trivia. Even though it seems like Winston is always relegated to the B plot, there are some good things this week such as the return of Elvin, who Nick is a part-time nanny for, and Winston and Shelby finally sealing the deal and declaring themselves in a relationship.

"Fancyman" is apparently a two-part episode (either that or New Girl is getting really meta and just titling this "Part 1" to mess with us), so hopefully this dynamic between Jess and Russell can continue to unfurl and, as Mulroney has hinted, add some much needed complexity.

Stray Observations

  • I didn’t really feel like this needed to be a two-part episode. Usually there’s some sort of cliffhanger at the end of the first half, and there wasn’t here, which makes me think maybe New Girl is playing with us?
  • Being in Jess’ sexual health class is probably uncomfortable and awesome all at the same time.
  • How long do you think you could last in the court of the Sun King? Bonus points if you know who the Sun King was. 


Editor Rating: 3.3 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (117 Votes)

I loved nick in this one!


Nick may be in the 99% but does not represent what Occupy Wall Street is suppose to be about. He quit school, seems to have no ambition and you can't have a 250 credit score without being totally responsible. Nick was not taken advantage of and he is not actively trying to make his life better. He is LAZY! The biggest problem with the Occupy Wall Street is people like him who make no effort to make his life better yet blames the system. For people like him the problem is him a not the system! Rant is now over! : )


This was a funnier-than-usual episode, and I was glad to have the DVR to rewind and catch all the muttered/fast lines that went by (or that we missed because of laughing). Loved the "alternatives to intercourse" on Jess's chalkboard:
* Change your e-mail password
* Tick/lice check
* Look at pics of STDs
* Write a convict
* Watch Friday Night Lights


I LOVED THIS QUOTE FROM JESS: "You know me, I'm only atracted to guys who are free of success and think someone famous stole their idea. I like an undergdog".


i didnt even think twice about CeCe's advice to Jess. she didn't mean 'take care of' in an old fashioned way. she mean that partners should take care of each other - he should be able to take care of her when she needs it - which is a big change from Jess's previous relationship. as for the rest of the show, that was just Nick being Nick, and yes, maybe a bit of play on the current occupy/political atmosphere, but i dont think the undertones really go that deep. i hope that this will be the start of Nick's turnaround - maybe finish law school?? the sad, bitter bartender thing is getting a bit old.




buuut maybe we shouldnt take it sooo serious... she met a guy and he got money.. well that doesnt make him to be a bad or evil guy who cant make jess happy


I agree with you, Lindsey. I think "bristle" is probably just what I did when CeCe suggested Jess let a man take care of her. And it wasn't clear to me why Dermot was such a db in Jess's classroom and then suddenly is so nice to her when her car breaks down. I mean, noticing, calling a tow truck, that's pretty basic. But lending his car? When he seemed to dislike her in the classroom? I was cringing when Nick arrived to the party wearing a BVD t-shirt. But more so when he was wearing Dermot's sweater and playing with his stuff. Boundaries, Nick! I'm hoping the reason for the two-parter is that Dermot's odd about-face will be revealed and Jess will realize that she does NOT need a man to take care of her! Also - it was a relief to see more of a focus on Winston this week. It's still not enough, but it's better. The show treats him like he's the "token black" and that's insulting. I should add that I really do adore this show. I just didn't love this episode, except for the increased focus on Winston.

Tony williams

The Winston and Schmidt parts were funny and the line where Schmidt says "do you want me to put on some Jodeci?" was too hilarious! Jess and Nick parts I had to watch closely, cause I believe Nick wants Jess but he is scared to try because he is still learning what she needs in a relationship. Funny moments throughout....


I completely agree with you - last night's New Girl was a bit of a sell out. Other critics that reviewed the episode said the same thing, so it seems like many of the viewers of New Girl need to wake up and realize that sure, it's not a political show and there isn't a whole lot of meaning behind what it does, but it can't just throw Occupy rhetoric and stories about class conflicts out there without any thought behind them. Not New Girl's best, but I'm glad it's trying to be more daring and, hopefully, thoughtful. Just growing pains - the show will get it right, eventually!

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New Girl Season 1 Episode 17 Quotes

Do you have like a box of charity phones you're sending to Africa? Can he just have one of those?


He smells of strong coffee and going to see a man about a horse.