jason stives struts his little thing on the catwalk…
It was very fitting that I reviewed this week’s episode of New Girl, entitled “Models,” in the company of my best friends. Friendship is one of the most common traits of a sitcom but is explored usually under one of two storylines: a flashback episode or a story in which two friends are at a dispute because of a woman, but sometimes it’s both. Rarely do shows cover the notion of longevity and how even the most long standing friendships create tension and differences. “Models” covers that from two different perspectives and was well orchestrated creating a very typical kind of New Girl episode while being both very funny and at times a little deep.
The story goes that Jess comes over to CeCe’s apartment to celebrate her birthday in the same fashion they have since they were tweens which means eating cake and watching Clueless musing about how they wish they had a hot step brother like Paul Rudd. This year is different, as CeCe, bound and determined to work a modeling gig for a car unveiling, wants to go to a bar with her rather shallow and infuriating model friends. Jess doesn’t feel this and as the night unfolds, constantly being berated for resembling a cartoon character in a Russian cracker ad, questions CeCe’s intelligence after undertaking a profession that relies on looks. This creates obvious tension and this lays the initial ground work of this episode’s central theme. Jess has long since despised her best friend’s model friends, especially Nadia, the very confused Russian one who gets some great one liner here. I particularly enjoyed her assessment of a man she believes to be Wilmer Valderama, who she orders to get into pajamas (say that last bit in a broken Russian accent).
What this comes down to is Jess’ worry for CeCe that she isn’t using her full potential career wise which considering her current unemployment seems a bit hard to judge. Then again, this is a very common trait between most long standing friendships. I have had the same group of friends for over a decade now and while we still love and care for each other we still get up in each other’s business because we want what’s best or what we assume is best for them. Jess views CeCe in the same sane and intelligent mindset that she shares and her frustration mainly comes out of the people she associates with in her profession.
This is turned on its head in probably this episode’s biggest highlight as Jess replaces CeCe as a model for the Ford Fusion unveil, a deplorable sponsorship ad if I have ever seen one. Here Zooey Deschanel shines with some physical comedy and her trying to level herself on a rotating display was absolutely priceless. I wish they would do this more often with Jess because Deschanel does physical comedy very well when given the chance. After seeing what it’s like to walk a mile in CeCe’s high heel shoes Jess comes to accept what her best friend does and that plot ends pretty simply.
For me, it’s the second plot that really hits this show the most with Nick and Schmidt at odds after Schmidt buys Nick a cookie out of the goodness of his heart. Nick has always been portrayed as being very defensive and confused by truly good deeds and it’s a credit to Jake Johnson’s performance that he can make Jake’s reaction seem like the most alien of feelings. Once more Max Greenberg’s response of sadness and disappointment towards Nick’s reaction is just as rich as the emotionally overcompensating Schmidt is clearly hurt by his best friend’s inability to give the same love back despite how long they have known each other. That is the trouble with friendship. You can go years of being friends but you will normally find that one side favors the other more. At the episode’s climax after Nick buys a cookie for Schmidt in return Nick conveys that he just doesn’t love Schmidt as much as he does to him. This doesn’t make the longevity of their friendship softened it just shows how you will always have differences despite the constant support of years as friends. Both actors carry this storyline well and the highlight of it is the flashback to when Schmidt met Nick, which according to Nick “he just showed up one day.” Something funny about fat Schmidt being very happy catching Pop Tart in his mouth between bites of uncooked Ramen is hysterical. It displays a bizarre friendship at best but it also puts a little hurt into their sudden tension.
When you consider how often friendships are explored on television it’s nice to show common tension instead of one brought on by the plot point of either a girl or a dispute over possessions. Friends fight, friends disagree and best friends persevere by remaining their people with differences. This was a solid storyline and one that didn’t feel like a rehash. To top it off everyone was in fine form this week delivering just as many laughs as they did heart in their performances. If there was any doubt if New Girl could remain fresh and inventive with its stories and characters then “Models” proved that in spades.
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Excellent)
All Photos Credit: FOX