New Girl Review: California Lionfish

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New Girl has been many things in its nearly two seasons on the air: a frustrating mess of uneven adorkability, a polished comedic gem, an effective reminder that Natasha Lyonne is still among the living - and your numer-one source for jokes about Rusted Root on network TV.

Nick & The Boss

But on this week's "Quick Hardening Caulk," New Girl went where it has never before dared: guys, this show has gone Full Screwball! Full-on fish-throwing, aquarium-breaking, power-drill-as-a-penis-metaphor screwball, I tell you!

On one hand, it was surprising that the sitcom decided to jettison its veneer of hipster cool and go full-tilt into double entendre penis gags that your parents could laugh at (I mean, not in front of you. I mean, your parents don't know what penises are! I mean, you know what I mean).

Though I found this episode roundly hilarious, I was a little shocked to find a joke or five that wouldn't have felt out of place on The Big Bang Theory (also in this vein: that breaking-the-expensive-aquarium bit was straight out of Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. I know, I know I'm ashamed that I know that, too).

On the other, it is even more surprising that it took this long to get here.

From the show's very beginning, Zooey Deschanel's Jess seemed like a project intended to merge the spirits of Lucille Ball's Lucy and Rachel from the first five seasons of Friends. And many of New Girl Season 1's missteps seemed to stem from scripts that were clever, but not quite in step with that character; scripts that took that kooky, polka-dot-wearing cartoon of a woman and asked her to deal with a thoroughly mundane world filled with parking tickets and mean businesswomen and Justin Long.

Her rubber face and Mel Blanc pipes were not only not an asset in these episodes, they were a detriment (an annoying, annoying detriment).

The friction created by these early mismatches seemed to encourage New Girl to tone it down a lot and to try on a lot of different stylistic hats - from the hyper-realism of "Eggs" to the strangely touching melodrama of "TinFinity."

"Quick Hardening Caulk" wasn't short on any of the show's usual attributes. If anything, the blistering New Girl quotes were flying at an even faster pace than usual. But I was most taken by the sheer fearlessness of its physical goofery.

In those moments at the hardware store, New Girl slipped off its need to be the smartest kid in the room and opened its arms to the sheer pleasure of being smartly dumb. And I thought it was an utter success.

The show's tone has varied so much from episode to episode, there's no way to tell if next week will take the show back to more cerebral territory or keep exploring this new world of screwballery. I'd like to see the latter, personally - I think Zooey Deschanel has it in her to channel the spirit of Madeleine Kahn, another breathtaking beauty who didn't let her wholesome good looks keep her away from a decent dick joke.

And, oh, yeah, it was satisfying to have confirmation that we haven't seen the last of Jess and Nick sucking on each other's faces. Phew!

What did you think of this episode's screwball vibe? Do you feel bad for that fish that Schmidt dropped? Are you irritated that I barely even talked about the face-sucking?


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (123 Votes)

you can't hold a venomous lionfish in your hands (without pain and sickness, and even death if you're not as healthy as Schmidt)!!! that's as un-realistic as FREE beer at an LA bar! loved the episode the New Girl...and whoever said they couldn't see her and Nick together - really? I've had them pegged since episode ONE! adorable!!!


I'm more upset about the lack of mentioning Winston's line about if a number 2 would help it! That was one of the funniest things he's ever said on the show! I do really think the Nick and Jess scene was amazing! I'm glad we got to see the jealousy side from Jess, it only seems natural. And brings the situation to light for Nick as well. I'm glad we're not full on "there" yet, but it was nice to see that yes, it has not just been forgotten! This show is one of the best on tv, for sure!


Ahhhh I think this was the best episode yet!


Absolutely one of my all-time favorite episodes of NEW GIRL. It was hilarious and oddly sentimental at the same time. And that HOT-AS-HELL kiss between Nick and Jess before they destroyed the tank???? HOLY FRIJOLES PEOPLE! I was tingling all over AND cracking up at the same time. I love that the show hasn't decided to sweep Nick and Jess' kiss and newfound need for each other under the rug. The show is certainly having fun with this new angle to their relationship, and taking us along on what looks to be a hilarious and sexy ride! WOO-HOO!!!


I loved the episode; the only irksome part was when Schmidt picked up the heavily-barbed, poisonous lionfish after having just come out of the hospital with a jellyfish sting. The sight gag wasn't worth the departure from reality wondering how he managed to avoid the 18 venom-laden spines and then squirt the fish out of his hand.


It was hilarious!!!! Gradually this show has become maybe my favourite comedy show, i prefer it to The big bang theory and How i met your mother already! I laughed soo hard with all 4 of them! Genius and hilarious!


I think this was a great blend for the character use. The Schmidt and Winston story didn't feel like a B plot. One of the best episodes this season. More like this please!! :)


Holy **** this episode was so good. SO GOOD.


I loved the episode! I never pictured Jess & Nick together, even after their first kiss. They had chemistry but I didn't get it. Tonight I did! Cece & Winston scene was great too! Actually I really enjoyed the Schmidt & Winston scenes this week.


GREAT review!! I'm not upset at all about the lack of face-sucking in the review, because you pretty much nailed exactly what I thought about this episode - it was hilarious. I was laughing-out-loud-snorting at that scene in the hardware store - quick hardening caulk?!? And Schmidt on the beach - IT BUUUUUUUUUURNS!! I love that the show doesn't take itself so seriously and can have a little screwball fun once in a while. That being said, even with the crazy "low-brow" comedy going on in this episode, they still managed to find the right balance between the jokes, the character work and growth, and the story-telling. I thought Winston and Cece's scene at Schmidt's bedside was one of the best either of them had ever done. I loved this episode.

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New Girl Season 2 Episode 19 Quotes

I know this isn't gonna end well, but the middle part is gonna be awesome.


Schmidt, that is melon-flavored liquer!That is 4-proof! That is safe to drink while you're pregnant!