At long last, we've reached a happy medium.
New Girl Season 3 Episode 13 wasn't a mind-blower, but it also wasn't half bad. Sound your horns and raise your tiny, adorable cupcakes! New Girl is back-ish, and that is good enough for me.
And not only that - it actually did New Girl Season 2 one better in the realm of Jess's character development.
The moment where Jess mistook a child's birthday party set-up for her own was a great, quiet insight into the character, a sort of thing that the show has never really tried before. In New Girl Season 1, the show hit us over the head with Jess's Lady Urkel schtick, which made her seem less an adorable mess than an unlikeable space alien who learned about humanity from an Anthropologie catalog.
For much of New Girl Season 2, they dropped the issue of Jess's alleged "adorkability" entirely.
But in that moment - when a woman who must be celebrating her 30th birthday (at least) went crazy for a child's cupcake party, after spending a day humoring her boyfriend by taking a free diabetes test and looking for "the heaviest rock" - the show painted a real, vivid picture of a woman both sustained and cursed by her own child-like nature.
It was the first time, in three years of watching, that the character of Jess actually felt like a real human being to me (next up, I hope they finally explain why she has so many bathrobes).
Similarly, this episode finally warmed me up to Coach a bit--his statement of life purpose/ best New Girl quotes, "I'm the best at stuff!" maybe not the kind of thing that epic character motivations are made of, but it at least goes a little way towards letting us into his mind.
And I'm eager to see, eventually, what someone whose entire identity is built around winning actually feels about having roommates in his thirties and living oh-so alarmingly close to Schmidt's sex-tentacle mural. You may be the best at some stuff, Coach, but you're clearly the worst at a lot, too.
One thing that I never quite got a handle on, though, were the actual ins and outs of the plot. So Nick did plan a surprise birthday party in the movie theater, but he genuinely didn't think of anything to do all day? Or did he purposely plan a horrible day to get Jess frustrated enough to go to the movies and then be surprised? How long were those people waiting there, even? Couldn't he have, just, you know, taken her to the movies?
Am I just being nit-picky because I'm angry that no one ever plans a surprise party for me?
There is, of course, one question that I find more perplexing than any of the details regarding getting someone so angry that they run away to their own surprise birthday party:
Is Nick the Best Boyfriend... or the Worst Boyfriend?