New Girl: Season 3, Episode 14

Is there a more tired trope than hand-wringing over one sitcom character saying “I love you” to another? Yes, all shows want viewers to feel the weight and importance of these words, but its become tiring. The conceit of having someone stall saying it out of fear of what it means for a relationship goes far back. One of the more recent, and kind of stupid, examples was at the tail end of Seinfeld when Elaine tells Jerry, “I love U-nited Airlines”. Yes, pronouncing love for someone can be nerve-wracking, but if one means it, those words aren’t such a big deal. The monumental feeling is what should be the star, not a spooky sentence.

That brings us to this week’s New Girl, which tackles this trope and somehow finds a way to make it entertaining. Nick and Jess have been linked so closely for a while now, it was easy to forget that they hadn’t told each other, “I love you.” But when Nick blurts it out before Jess and CeCe’s big adventure at Prince’s house (Oh yeah, PRINCE IS IN THIS THING) that awkwardness comes through. Part of my reaction was, “Ugh, we’re gonna go through this again.” But then there was another part of me that wanted to see Prince. I mean, it’s Prince and he’s ridiculous and he’s on New Girl. This could have been an episode about Jess inviting her boss over for dinner and wanting to impress him or Schmidt decides to go water skiing over some sharks – ADDING PRINCE CHANGES THE EQUATION.

Adding Prince to the equation works two-fold. First, this was airing right after the Super Bowl and there was a potentially massive audience sticking around to check this show out, most for the first time. A giant mega-star might help people stick around after the game. Second, it made a potentially groan-inducing problem – Nick saying “I love you” and Jess not knowing how to react – weirdly charming, bizarre and most importantly, funny.

Between Prince, the sitcom-y plot (the I Love You) and the totally bizarre conceit of the episode (Jess and CeCe almost get hit by a car so they’re invited to a party at Prince’s house, OK!) made this the strangest episode of New Girl to date. The show sometimes dips its toe in cartoonish waters (everything Winston does, for example), but “Prince” was off the diving board into the deep end. Prince brought the weird and the cast went to town with it.

While Jess and CeCe got the invite we had the guys find fun ways to break in, and once inside Jess was treated to a spiritual journey from the man of the half-hour. Many kudos to Prince for taking on a very large role and, as some have suggested on the Twitter-sphere, the guy may deserve an Emmy nomination. Prince was willing to embrace the weirdness that the writers had concocted for him – his pancake and ping-pong prowess, his ability to tap deep into Jess’ psyche while whispering indecipherably, his ability to walk through walls and his mastery over the butterflies.

It was utterly ridiculous and utterly hilarious. It dealt with a tired line and gave it the splashiest, most fun dressing a sitcom could possibly give the “I Love You”. It eventually came when Jess faced her fears (thanks to Prince, of course) and told Nick that she loved him. Nick said it first because he really meant it and when he rescinded it, it was just because he feared being rejected or coming off too needy. This episode, if not a classic New Girl entry, will certainly be remembered for how it took something that has grown so mundane in the romantic sitcom world and made it weird and wonderful.

Grade: A-


-Worth pointing out the fire and ice routine – it makes warm water! – from Coach and Winston. Since they’ve been paired up, they make an excellent comedic team.

-Schmidt resting his head on CeCe’s lap is kind of a perfect Schmidt moment – womanizing, yet somehow incredibly warm.

-The show is slowly letting us get back to a point where the Schmidt-CeCe thing can be a real thing again. It’s been in recovery since that “date two people at once” plan fizzled out.

-Jess going with the finger guns might not have been the best move.

-Enjoyed Winston screaming, “I love you!” in his flashback

-Coach’s Ford Fusion product placement was weird. Why do they need to do this?

-“I gotta tell my girlfriend I don’t love her so she doesn’t leave me. Like a normal person.”

-Some random cameos, Clayton Kershaw! A couple of super models!

-Ham and Cheese didn’t work as well as Fire and Ice. I loved how quickly Schmidt gives up, “We didn’t rehearse.”

-“Prince is terrible at Frisbee, there’s 10 of these things up there” – Schmidt emerging from the trees.

-Nick staring at Prince is amazing, He’s almost drunk with admiration.

-On that note, Jake Johnson is an excellent drunk performer.

-Seriously, Prince does some amazing comedic work, even if he is just working off his persona. The way he stares down Jess after she calls him stupid.

-Prince doing the trying-on-different clothes montage is amazing.

-“Repeat after me…Love”

-Schmidt is good. Something he showed when he left the models to play the lemon wedge game. He ate it!

-Jess singing onstage with Prince was a bit cheesy, but it kind of fit with the insanity of the episode. Also how they weren’t interested in using a live, to camera recording was telling of the fantasy.

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