Is it just me, or is New Girl totally rocking the guest stars? It seems like every other day another big star or indie name - like Jeane Tripplehorn or Thomas Lennon - signs up for a dose of New Girl’s special kind of crazy.
This week’s episode,"Fancyman (Pt. 2)," had not one but two special guests: Dermot Mulroney reprising his role as Fancyman – I mean, Russell – and Martin Starr of Party Down fame as Nick’s college buddy, Dirk. Mulroney’s presence is one of the few things that qualifies this as a follow-up to "Fancyman Pt 1."
The Occupy theme from last week seems to have run its course, and even though I was hoping that New Girl would commit all the way and add some complexity to that plotline, it’s okay that it didn’t. I would rather have Liz Meriwether drop it all together than attempt another shallow rendition. Political commentary just isn’t New Girl's strength at this point.
What New Girl is really good at is constantly seeking out the heart of each of its characters, and then delivering solid material to make them shine. It happened first with Schmidt – he went from being the uptight playboy roommate to the wonderfully douchey, elitist, trivia champ we know today. Now it’s Nick’s turn.
If anything is a carryover from "Fancyman Pt. 1," it’s Nick’s newly found comedic fire. As the grouchy roommate, Jake Johnson’s portrayal of Nick was sometimes funny, but overall there was something a little too heavy about the character, like he was trying to be the weight that kept New Girl and its bubbly absurdity from floating away. There’s something to be said for that; for New Girl to get the most out of its zaniness, it needs to be brought back to Earth every so often.
Nick can still play this role, but now he’s more than just the immature grump. He’s the immature village idiot, a guy who really has no clue how to be an adult but is trying to figure it out rather than just complaining about it. Russell’s absurd amount of wealth and manliness (and a desk that makes Nick feel sexually proficient for the first time) ignited a desire in Nick to grow up, maybe get a cashmere sweater, and maybe become President of Earth, but as we saw this week, none of that plays out.
Instead, Dirk comes to town. The quintessential bro – a hotshot professor that never grew up and now hits on hot college girls to boost his ego – Dirk deserves a name like Dirk. Expertly played by Starr, Dirk enables Nick’s regression by hooking him up with some college students who are excited that, as a bartender, Nick can get them professionally drunk.
That was probably my favorite conversation of the episode. Nick looked so excited that someone was into him being a bartender. To see more of the great one-liners from this week, head over to the New Girl quotes page!
In a weird way, relapsing has the desired effect for Nick. He wants to be like Russell, but growing up is hard. Getting drunk and hitting on naïve girls is much easier, and he gets to become, in a funhouse mirror sort of way, just like Russell. To the college girls, Nick is their fancy man - older, employed, and sophisticated (read: can mix drinks). When confronted with the real deal, however, Nick is left on the side of the road, vomiting and disoriented while Russell waits for him in his luxury sedan.
Jess also takes a trip back to college this week as she tries to seduce Russell, but after misinterpreting his nervousness as apathy, she retreats to the loft and joins Dirk’s party where she’s crowned flip cup queen! Honestly, watching Jess drown her sorrows at the party was so much more enjoyable than cringing through all her scenes with Russell. They have absolutely no chemistry. Nick and Schmidt have more fireworks than Jess and her fancy man, so let’s move this story right along and get Jess another man, or give Russell more charisma.
While Nick and Jess are dealing with their problems college freshmen style, Winston takes a step forward in his relationship with Shelby. After telling her he wants space, even though he doesn’t seem to understand the true meaning of that phrase, Winston drives to Mexico, where Shelby is vacationing, to make it up to her.
The writers haven’t quite found Winston’s identity yet. There have been glimpses, like his gentleman dance and song and singing to Wicked, but sometimes it feels like the writers just gave him some of Schmidt’s lines. Still, it’s clear we’re getting closer to the real Winston, and each week that he gets a meatier plot line, like this week, the faster we’ll find him.
Speaking of meatier (sorry, guys, I had to!), let’s talk about naked Schmidt and CeCe in the trunk of the car. There’s not much to say except that it was brilliant. While I wasn’t super into Schmidt and CeCe’s relationship at first, their unique tug-of-war over control has kept them interesting. It’s been mostly one-sided, with CeCe holding all the power, until this week. She tried to appease Schmidt by dressing up a "sexretary" and agreeing to sex in some of Schmidt’s "fantasy locations", one of which, apparently, is the trunk of his car.
Once CeCe gave in, the tension between her and Schmidt was weakened and their relationship would have quickly become stale if New Girl hadn’t wisely brought in another conflict: Winston discovering their secret! It was only a matter of time before their relationship was uncovered, and Winston is the perfect guy for it. It not only weaves him into a main story arc (most of the time he’s relegated to the B plot and seems largely unconnected to the major recurring plotlines), and he was also the only roommate that wouldn’t totally freak out.
And so ends New Girl’s Fancyman saga. I think Russell is sticking around, so there’s still time for him and Jess to kindle some real sparks, but I’m most excited to see how Winston handles Schmidt and CeCe’s secret and if Nick ever ends up activating his cell phone, buying a cashmere sweater, or becoming President of Earth.
- I really wish we had seen how the gang talked themselves out of being arrested at the border.
- Feel free to slip "sexretary" and "sex receptionist" into your conversations tomorrow.
- Vote for Schmidt yet in TV Fanatic's Who Is The Funniest Character On TV? poll. He's obviously winning, but extra votes never hurt!