22
Jan
2014
New Girl: Season 3, Episode 13
Birthday
Sam


A trend of most recent successful sit-coms is how a show is able to pull way back into its world to not only entertain, but better inform us of its main cast. In “Birthday,” we had Jess show vulnerability that was charming and felt true to her character. How can her new boyfriend, Nick, deliver a great birthday to a woman who really doesn’t deal well with the special day. Jess has high expectations of her friends, assuming they’ve always gone all-out for her gifts. This speaks to Jess’ endless well of optimism, but also her sometimes skewed view of the world.

What I also enjoyed about “Birthday” was how the entire cast was in on the party for Jess. After just a few years, I love hanging out with all of these people, even if Coach hasn’t completely grown on me yet. Seeing everyone work toward being the best people they could be for Jess was moving and more importantly, hilarious. While the surprise party is planned for the evening, Nick has nothing going for the rest of the day. Jake Johnson’s nervous energy plays incredibly well against the plucky Deschanel. After an early-morning breakfast he takes her out to some great birthday activities like getting a diabetes test and mistakenly crashing a little kid’s birthday picnic. When its clear that the day has gone awry, Jess breaks down. Nick isn’t a planner and Jess knows that, but she’s sad because she loves Nick and wants to make him happy by being happy. She puts it better, saying that she’s disappointed in herself for being disappointed by Nick. Playing the neat, organized, driven Jess against the sloppy, cranky, wandering Nick has always been part of what made audiences fall in love with this coupling. While previous Jess-Nick stories have focused on how one can improve them for the other, this is about how Nick uses it to his advantage in the eventual surprise party at the end.

Elsewhere we had great character work from Schmidt and CeCe. Since she’s started working at the bar, CeCe has felt a bit disassociated from the show, however, with Schmidt helping her out, the reboot has begun with these two. The Schmidt that I loved poked his out head, as he helped her make a drink and showed her how using her confidence could help her behind the bar. “You called me your friend,” Schmidt said as their relationship can finally begin to heal. Schmidt’s a good man, and the show seems to forget that sometimes – even if he’ll always need to throw a few bucks in the douchebag jar.

Winston and Coach, relegated to making the cake after Winston accidentally grabs an extremely violent one from the shop by mistake, are at each other’s throats. But then they find a sort of bond. After teaming up to protect the surprise party from a distraught Jess, they manage to create two cakes that morph into one that’s decorated to look like Jess. It’s more sweet than creepy.

As for the finale, it was a genuine surprise, since Nick really isn’t the one to do so much planning. I was assuming we’d get a regular surprise party at the apartment or something, but the movie theater worked. It showed how much Nick cares about Jess (and how well he knows her). Plus it gets back to that point of using the show’s history for emotional effect. When we see all the people wish Jess a happy birthday, it feels like we’re one of her friends in attendance. It also served as a great reminder of the world built around these people. We see everyone from Jess’ parents to Bearclaw to Outside Dave. I wouldn’t believe such a surprise would be in the realm of possibility, but the fact that a surprise like this has acutally been accomplished (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnVAE91E7kM) kind of makes it better. Depth of character, heart, and laughs made this week’s episode one of New Girl’s best.

Grade: A

Notes:

-Probably too much to list, but here goes:

-Angela’s (I’m still calling her Angela) parents abandoned her at Witness

-Winston’s STD free WOOOO!

-“See you in hell, Boomer” – the cake

-Coach where are all the Kazoos? All over your face!

-Are you challenging me to a bakeoff, Bishhh?

-You can see Lamorne laughing during Coach’s hilarious moist speech.

-Love Schmidt walking CeCe through making an old fashioned

-BEHIND BEHIND BEHIND BEHIND – that’s some classic chef-talk right there

-Jess is the upstairs lady – Outside Dave

-TRAN!!!

-Schmidt running away from the explosion was pretty fantastic as well

-Last but not least, it was very cute that Nick always has the coin in his pocket. These kids’ll make it I tells ya!

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