Who would have thought we’d have an episode that portrayed Nick Miller as the one character who’s fully content in his career? Not this girl, but boy am I happy they did.
As a welcome back episode this week focuses on taking a look at the past in order to move forward.
Jess has been doing volunteering work on top of her teaching job and a woman who works with her, Candice, has offered a job at the museum, one that would pay more than the one she currently holds. She needs quick advice from the guys on what she should do since she’s getting a call from the woman in 20 minutes as Coach takes much pleasure in pointing out.
“How do you know when you’re on the right path?” Jess asks the group. And how nice is it to see a 30-year-old woman still asking this question?
Nick attempts to give her advice but the other guys quickly shut him down, laughing off the idea that Nick could give actual advice on how to make a career change. So Winston steps up first to offer his expertise, as he points out, in the group he’s the expert of switching careers.
“Is that something we’re bragging about now?” Schmidt asks, landing possibly the best delivered line of the night that had me laughing for minutes later.
Winston goes through his backstory and tells Jess about his basketball career and how he had thought of leaving but was pressured to stay. He stayed on until he was injured and a Doctor told him he had to leave the sport.
Jess points out that none of this actually helps her because he never made a decision for himself concerning his career and that she has an immediate one she needs to make. Winston, in typical season three Winston style, begins to undergo a crisis about whether or not he’s ever made an actual decision in his entire life, feeling the need to reevaluate everything.
Schmidt’s up and of course with flashbacks comes fat suit Schmidt and this time we see him working as a candy striper at a hospital and one night he asks a man where he needs to volunteer to get a girl like his and he’s told that he’s a man, he has a real job.
So of course his next task is finding a job—starting selling Christmas trees—and slowly worked himself up in the ranks so that his boss took notice of him. There’s also an anecdote of Schmidt sitting by his boss’s bedside and listening to his advice about putting family to the side and focusing on making money.
But you have to wonder how much you can trust that story.
Onto Coach who probably has the simplest story. Who else is named after their career he asks and then there’s a brief flashback of Schmidt and Nick watching Coach at one of his games and giving him the nickname. Coach’s apparent message is to be who you are and be happy with it.
Nick tells Jess to think about the first student that she taught and she remembers a boy who was bullied that she met on her first day and ended up tutoring him in math for the rest of the year. For a moment she’s confident in her decision but a quick internet search tells them that the boy now is all grown and is being chased by the FBI for embezzlement.
It wouldn’t be the biggest problem if she was currently enjoying her job which she isn’t. The conditions are terrible and teachers are being forced to share their classrooms. That coupled with the first student story is making her lean towards the museum job.
Nick finally gets the chance to tell his story and he talks about his first year of law school and how he quickly learned that he didn’t like any of the people around him. Then there was the second year where he realized he didn’t like himself anymore. By the third year he found his happiness at the bar and was ready to quit law school and become a bartender full time.
His story is cut short as Cece comes into the bar and Jess asks her for advice and says to ignore anything that the guys have said and then tells her about her failure with her first student.
This is where Cece corrects her.
That boy wasn’t her first student, Cece was. We get a flashback of the two of them as younger girls in a school library where Jess gives Cece a silly tip on how to read when she has lost her glasses. It makes the two look a little ridiculous but those are the kind of this things that seem trivial unless it’s shared with a new friend. This is also the moment where Jess and Cece become friends as Cece confides to her that she lost her father recently and Jess invites her over to hang out. They’re obviously very different but Jess being Jess wanted to help in any way she could.
Candice calls Jess and after her talk with Cece she tells her that she isn’t going to take the job. It’s a sweet moment as the friends congratulate her but she’s a little sad as well realizing that she’s taken the harder path.
We get a quick update on everyone as Jess decides she wants to try and become principal of the school she works at, Winston quits his job in an undignified manner, and Nick gives Jess the ending of his story.
I’m already liking 2014 season three New Girl better than 2013 season three New Girl.
The ending of this week’s episode of New Girl is so sugary sweet it’s nearly absurd when you compare it to the comedies that deliver their best jokes on a mean spirited premise. Most comedies today are about insult humor, the meaner the joke the better it lands. Friends don’t seem to be friendly, parents never like their kids or they are living boring, unfulfilled lives. There’s the obvious exception but on a broad level it’s there. So to see such a popular comedy go against the grain a little is fun especially when it’s built on the architecture of past comedies. Considering their sitcom confines it would be easy to never push the limits and New Girl did simply by allowing a character to surprise not only another character, but also the audience as well.
We’ve all accepted that Nick is a dope, a loveable dope who we all root for but all acknowledge that he hasn’t ever really accepted a fully responsible and adult life. So to learn that when he took his bar exam for Law School he actually passed it is surprising to us fans. He tells Jess that he only took it so that no one would ever think he took the easy way out. By taking and passing the test Nick could say without a doubt that working at the bar and being a bartender was what he wanted to do, what made him happy and that’s rare in TV.
To see someone have such a content nature in the job that they do—a job that’s looked down at after a certain age—is refreshing and as a whole so was this episode. It showed the friendship between the group without it trespassing into the overtly sentimental, it showed how life changes your perspective on what you want to do in life and how you can either accept your place or move forward. By the end of the episode Winston has quit his job, Schmidt is taking a look down memory lane when working was something he enjoyed rather than suffered through, Cece is taking up a job at the bar with Nick who like Coach is content with his work and Jess has made a tough decision on her future that could go either way.
I had a discussion the other day with a friend about how life is a series of BIG decisions, one right after the other, and to try and simplify that is a waste of time and will only be a hindrance to the enjoyment that can be taken from decisions. Decision making is hard but trying to avoid them can lead to apathy.
New Girl, with comedic touches obviously, shows life as a sequence of events. It just so happens that the decisions these characters make could be temporary to service the week’s plot or carry on throughout the season as new character developments.
Such is the reality of television—only mild reflections on real life.