The New Girl: Thanksgiving Discussion

Just watching a turkey in the dryer, no big deal. Or, as Jess would say, “aint no thaaang’.

I regard television in much the same way I regard friendships—when they start off too strong, too fast, they usually fizzle out pretty quickly or end up being really annoying. My best friendships have had a slower build, a solid foundation, but the real magic came later on. Though I was enamored with New Girl’s pilot and subsequent episodes, I’ve had a scared little voice in the back of my head, wondering if I’d eventually find Jess cloying, get sick of Schmidt’s role as (loveable) douche, or Nick’s “turtle-face” as Jess accurately dubbed it in Thanksgiving. However, so far after six episodes, it’s still going strong, and I can breathe another sigh of relief at an enjoyable week. Thanksgiving proved to be a lot of fun, and I’m excited about Justin Long playing Jess’ love interest for the time being (until she and Nick realize their twulove).

When Long appeared, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Love. He’s a little too child-like for me to find him attractive per say, but Jess finding a guy who finally doesn’t make her stop singing or yell at her when she gets weird is so refreshing. When she started singing after Paul first got to the apartment and the guys were cringing, but then Paul starts singing too. It’s so nice to see a guy appreciating Jess instead of hating on her all the time. Vanity Fair rightly called the guys out on this. When your roommate offers to cook you Thanksgiving dinner, is that really ever something you’d react negatively too? I could understand it if the show had established that Jess was a terrible cook, or even revealed that in a series of hilarious flashbacks in this episode, but it seemed like the guys were only upset because they didn’t want a Thanksgiving dinner? Uh, okay.

It was great when Nick says, “That’s a great idea, Jess. Be the girl who replaces his dead Nana.” And without a trace of irony, Jess earnestly replies, “I know!”

I love that even thought the show knows and the audience knows that the romance is eventually going to be all about the Nick and Jess, it’s letting the sleeping giant that is going to be their future love sleep. For now the writers are content to have Jess flip out when Nick doesn’t like the guy she’s dating or freak out when his toes point towards her. Despite the heart of Jess’ rant to Nick in the hallway—that she wants to have sex with Paul big time, what I latched onto was Nick’s big question about why Jess cared so much what he thought.

Winston continues to be relatively useless, and even after 5 episodes without him, I still mourn the loss of Coach. I may watch Happy Endings just to see him again. Tears. Winston had some nice interactions with Paul, especially when they were bonding over grandparents, but there’s something about his delivery that seems wooden to me, unchanging. The screen-cap above? That’s basically the same face he always makes. Though, when he comes out into the hall to inform Jess that everyone can hear what she’s saying, he was pretty funny.

The ‘Vanity Fair’ article did bring up a point that I’ve been ruminating on since I read the post. The authors of the article (Bruce Handy and Juli Weiner) were discussing the show’s treatment of Jess’ sexuality. Handy wrote, “I’ve complained in the past that the show desexualizes Jess, so I’m glad here she’s allowed to show desire, even if it’s somewhat infantilized desire, and the object of her desire sports a modified bowl haircut…” I don’t think this show desexualizes Jess at all, I think that it isn’t interested in sexualizing her 1) because she just got out of a really bad breakup, and maybe rebound sex really wasn’t right for her. So what? And 2) Yes, you have to suspend your disbelief a little to believe every man isn’t salivating over Zooey Deschanel, but the show does make it clear that people find Jess attractive, that she is interested in sex. In the first episode we see her attempting to fulfill her boyfriend’s fantasy about Jess as a stripper. Yeah, she’s a little awkward about it, but she’s doing it. And she’s clearly dating someone who is really sexual. Later in that same episode, she tells the guy she meets at the bar she wants to have rebound sex with him, though it never happened, she didn’t seem to have any qualms being straightforward about it. In the pilot as well as the wedding episode, Jess changes out of frumpier clothes and into lovely dresses and the guys all recognize how beautiful she is. I think the show demonstrates both Jess’ sexual side as well as her more innocent side. I’m fine with that. I don’t think it has to be all or nothing.

It could be argued that Cece, as a model, is objectified and sexualized more often by New Girl and its male characters. In Cece Crashes we saw that she’s a little guy crazy, loves attention, but the episode ends with her sharing a bed with Schmidt…just holding hands. The College Crush is always posing the question, “Whatever happened to hand holding.” Well, here it is! And it’s lovely. It could also be argued that Winston isn’t sexualized, or even Nick. Like Jess, Nick attempts to have casual, rebound sex and the show doesn’t allow that to happen. From what Jess said at the end of the episode about Nick not really wanting casual sex and wanting to show someone his “heart penis”, I think New Girl is just more reluctant to have its characters engage in casual sex or appear over-sexualized in general, save for Schmidt. But even Schmidt is portrayed as sexualized to the point where no one can take him seriously or find him sexy, very similarly to Jess. Though he had sex at the end of the wedding episode, it was with someone he’d been hooking up with at every wedding, and he tries to start something more with her. He has issues sealing the deal as evidenced by his behavior in Cece Crashes.

The ‘Vanity Fair’ authors also seem to agree that this isn’t a very good show but it’s enjoyable. I’m going to fully disagree and say it’s great, and every week I’m excited to watch it.


One thought on “The New Girl: Thanksgiving Discussion

  1. I love this show as well. I find the way sex is handled on the show to be funny and refreshing and realistic too. As for Winston I have come to really like his character and would like to see him developed more fully. He was funny at the wedding as the usher, coming up to date on pop culture for his interviews and interacting with Justine Long in the Thanksgiving episode.

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