How exactly does one become the most adorkable woman in America?
After recovering from a late 2013 flirtation with mediocrity, a fit and fierce New Girl Season 3 endeavored to answer that question this week in one of the season's funniest episodes.
And according to New Girl Season 3 Episode 16, the road to adorkability begins by growing up in the shadow of a delinquent and eyeliner-soaked older sister.
Tonight's half-hour marked the debut of former ER and Freaks and Geeks star Linda Cardellini as Abby, Jess's mess of an older sister, who is slated to star in a multi-episode arc.
Abby is not only an entertaining train wreck in all the usual entertaining train wreck ways (boundary issues, hotel bar trickery, excellent earrings), but provides an interesting insight into how Jess Day became the gluten-free cupcake of a human being that we know and love today.
And even if Abby and her amazing hoop earrings stepped straight out of "troubled bad girl" central casting, her existence provides some much needed insight into Jess's development as a character. Yes, you too might want to surround yourself with sunshine and lollipops well into your early thirties if you life involved bailing your sister out of jail on the regular. It all finally makes (some) sense.
Abby's appearance was also a more realistic-than-usual stress on Nick and Jess's relationship, rather than the wild flights of romantic-tension-fancy this show sometimes sails on.
Though the "kooky sister" is an easy narrative card to pull, it also establishes that the show is once again committed to telling stories about its characters that go a little deeper, like New Girl Season 2 Episode 20's expedition to Nick's childhood home. And that's nothing but good news for a show like this that falters when it gets too superficial
This episode also saw what felt like the final and full absorption of Coach into the ensemble machinery. His work at Bertie's dinner party with Cece was as dynamic, neurotic, and fun as any of the New Girl quotes to come out of Nick Miller's mouth this week. It was both a triumph, and a relief. I'm so happy to no longer be holding my breath for this show.
So New Girl is back on top. But will things stay that way? Will the show be able to resist that alluring siren-song of low-stakes plot devices and too many flashbacks that held it hostage for the first half of the season? And, most importantly,
Is Jess's sister really that bad?