New Girl, you’ll be a New Woman soon.
Though no members of the Loft could be accused of having finally grown up, this program truly did on Season 2. Particularly in the back half, New Girl found its voice, its vibe and its pacing, solidifying its identity as one of the best network sitcoms on the air.
It also found a way to make Jess a relatable, lovable neurotic, rather than the “Bjork-by-way-of-Urkel” weirdo that she often defaulted to during season 1 - a formidable feat for any show, but especially one that had been promoted to the public on the basis of its “adorkable”-ness.
But it turned out that once you washed away all the adorkability, you just had an excellently crafted story about friendship and modern single life. Who’da thunk it? Let's relive the madness in this TV Fanatic Report Card...
Best Episode: The hair. The hookers. The Lisa Loeb. The best episode of season 2 had to be “Virgins,” a series of inter-linked flashback vignettes that told the story of how each member of the gang lost their v-card. I’d like to give a high-minded critical explanation for my love of this episode - and it did provide enticing psychological insight into the pasts of Schmidt, Nick, Jess and Winston in a creative and hilarious way - but to get real with you, it’s mostly because I can’t stop saying “Just my penis, baby. Just my penis.”
Runner-Up: “Quick Hardening Caulk,” the episode where the show finally found its tone as a dirty, absurbist, quick-witted Friends for the late aughties.
Worst Episode: Call me whatever you like - critical killjoy, feminist party pooper, person who only enjoyed the Nick portions of this episode - but I am not a big fan of PMS humor. I think it’s very played out, and kind of a dull fallback for any comedy with a female protagonist. And thus, my least favorite episode of this mostly-excellent season was the PMS-themed “Menzies, which, honestly, staggered a little too close to “PMS I Love You,” a 1990 episode of Roseanne (that was also not particularly funny in 1990). I was also not a big fan of Carla Gugino as yet another of Schmidt’s business lady paramours; she didn’t bring anything new or particularly exciting to Schmidt’s well-document fetish for women in business suits.
Runner-Up: I am not one of those jerks who hates Olivia Munn for no reason. I think she is often quite funny, and she has very beautiful hair! There, I said it. But I didn’t dig her plot arc as Nick’s unhinged girlfriend Angie, and “Cabin” focused too much on their misguided relationship (as well as Jess’s own misguided relationship) for my taste. I found parts of it even a bit wince-inducing.
Best Celebrity Guest Star: Dylan O’Brien killed in “Virgins” as the guy who almost took Jess’s virginity... and his character’s quick transformation from suave, guitar-toting ladies’ man to freaked-out crybaby trapped in a children’s playhouse really exemplified how delightfully well this show inverts ideas about coolness.
(Honorable mention goes to Taylor Swift in “Elaine’s Big Day,” who didn’t really do much in her guest spot, but kind of embodies this show’s spirit just by existing.)
Worst Celebrity Guest Star: I am just not a fan of Josh Gad, and his appearance in “Katie” as a sweet sad-sack didn’t change my mind. God, maybe I am just a party pooper.
Best Winston Prank: Does making Winston a “Prank Sinatra” with a sweet spot for borderline-lethal practical jokes count as giving the super-talented Lamorne Morris enough to do? Surely not. But it is hard to not get swept up in the man’s enthusiasm.
This season’s winner was, of course, the badger drop from “Elaine’s Big Day." But I look forward to Season 3, where hopefully he’ll do something involving Kit-Kats, plastique explosives, and a CD copy of ”40 Oz. to Freedom.”
Best Jess Outfit: Is it sick that I am obsessed with the dress she wore to Nick’s dad’s funeral? It just had a real adorable collar.
Hopes for Season 3:
- How will this show go on without the Jess-Nick tension that propels it like so much of that truck fuel they make out of French fry grease? By depicting the awkward road bumps that they will surely have to negotiate in their burgeoning relationship, I hope, rather than ginning up frequent reasons for them to make up and break up, Ross-n-Rachel-style.
- On a similar note, I hope that the writers give the CeCe-Schmidt-Elizabeth triangle a shot as the main relationship drama, at least for a little while. I’ve always found Schmidt and Cece’s “will-they-or-won’t-they?” dynamic more interesting than when Jess and Nick were trying to get together. And adding in Elizabeth as a symbol of the more authentic and sweet person that Schmidt used to be provides some exciting friction. Also, we can’t drop this plot point until Schmidt proposes a three-way and both women get mad at him. We can’t! It’s our duty as True Americans!
- Give Winston the episode’s “A plot” and best jokes. Just once? Please?
Overall Grade: A.
YOUR turn, TV Fanatics. Grade New Girl Season 2: