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This week’s episode of New Girl, titled “Jury Duty,” may have been a series low for the show. The two episodes this season before this week had been pretty disastrous already— or whatever the boring, pointless, meandering version of a disaster is. We knew Zooey Deschanel was leaving midway through the season to have her baby, and rather than work this absence into the plot in any sort of way that drives the show narratively, they had Jess get picked for a capital trial jury, sequestered for at least a month. If that sounds like a super lazy way to write off a character, I don’t disagree.
This season so far has felt like New Girl is treading water, but also like no one ever taught the show to swim. Each episode so far has felt like the characters and writers are just waiting for something to happen. The closest thing to a narrative arc that they’ve given us is Schmidt and Cece’s engagement, but there’s not actually anything there to grab onto. There’s no drive, no story progressing. They just are. And it doesn’t help that the show has morphed into the thing it’s had hints and low points of in the past: a full-on live action cartoon. Each character has become a caricature of their former self. Schmidt, whose off-kilter cadences and mannerisms I once loved, is now nothing but that. His whole “character” is saying things and moving his body in kooky ways.
Cece’s character in last night’s episode was boiled down to “hot” and “messy.” And what clearer indication that there was no story here than the amount of time spent on watching Nick trying to step over a pile of laundry.
Seriously, this was pretty much an entire scene.
I wish I were exaggerating.
Not even John Cho as a sexy lawyer, wearing a suit like he does so well, with the best description of Jess’ new style of dress, could save this episode.
Actually, Cho’s ultra-focused, realistic… um, I’m trying to find a descriptor that’s less insulting to the rest of the show than just good, style of acting only served to make everything around him that much more laughable by comparison.
In the end, the only character that is faring well this season is Winston. Because he’s always been an outsider whose character was made up nearly entirely of weird quirks. So they can put him off to the side, and make his primary scene partner a literal wall—
And it doesn’t feel like he’s devolved. That’s just the Winston we’ve always loved.