New Girl is on a winning streak. Uh-huh, thank you very much! (Sorry. I literally could not stop myself.)
For a show that's greatest weakness has long been its wild and obvious indecision about what it wants to be, for at least the second week in a row, New Girl has hit a perfectly consistent tone.
"Chicago" offered more of everything that's made New Girl Season 2 so appealing, including over-the-top silliness, sharp-but-warm humor, and tender emotional moments slightly undermined by Schmidt rubbing his face on a dead guy.
A lot of things felt like they finally settled into place in this episode, including the ongoing slow burn of Jess and Nick's relationship, along with the ongoing slow burn of Nick's maturation into a full-on adult.
But the most important was Jess's solidification into a character that we laugh at because she does funny things, not a character that we laugh at because she herself is the punchline.
New Girl Season 1 seemed a bit confused about this particular issue. One second, the show was ridiculing Jess for being a glitter princess who lived on Cake Island; the next, it was taking down a character for making those same exact criticisms of her. Just when it would seem like the show had settled on having her be a neurotic who happens to wear frilly dresses, they'd have her mindmeld with a coyote.
I mean, personally, as a neurotic who wears frilly dresses but who would never mindmeld with a coyote (too awkward), perhaps I was extra sensitive to this issue.
But even if you're an even-keeled rationalist who wears sensible slacks, you can't deny that much of the engine that's been powering New Girl Season 2 has been the revelation that Jess is just a funny character who does funny things - not a child-like goon, not a saint-like weirdo, not Mork from Ork. Just a clever neurotic who nails many of the best New Girl quotes each week (and, yes, has clearly been dropping way too much cash at Anthropologie).
Nick's family was played for some fairly easy working-class laughs - for a house that was supposedly in Chicago, they seemed to be located a little bit closer to Lanford, Illinois - but I do have to give special props to Bill Burr for his portrayal of Nick's surly Boston cousin Bobby. You may recall Burr from his turn as Saul Goodman's most hilarious thug on Breaking Bad and his work here was not dissimilar. But, again, who's complaining about more of a good thing?
It may be premature to call this, but I think we've now passed the point where New Girl will have a bad episode. Sure, some will be better than others (and yeah, there will probably be a drop off in a few years, when all the original writers have gone on to other projects, and Jess will be a faint shell of the glitter princess she once was).
But I think we've hit a point where we can expect something consistent from this show. New Girl appears to have finally found its permanent groove.
And, yes, it just so happens that that groove is slightly reminiscent of a certain group of...chums...whom we all remember so fondly from the 90s. But so what? No shame in that game. If a billion nihilistic shows can model themselves after Seinfeld, why not have on show take a page from Friends and suggest that sometimes, on occasion, life is not completely terrible, and we can all..be there...for you?
I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I'll show myself out.
Did you like the peek at Nick's extended family? Was Jess's Elvis impersonation totally cute or way too much? Did you even notice Nick Kroll (he played Nick's brother)?