Jeremy Likes TV

I like TV. Probably more than any human should.

TV Diary | New Girl: “Jess And Julia”

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TV Diary | New Girl – Episode 1.11 – “Jess And Julia“ – Original Airdate: 1/31/12

Episode Grade: B+

Without reading too far into things, it’s probably fair to say that a large part of “Jess & Julia” plays as a treatise on the Jess character. I’ll admit to not catching onto that until checking out Erik Adams’ review over at The AV Club but, after reading it, it’s pretty obvious in retrospect. Whether series creator Elizabeth Merriweather and her writing staff intended it that way or not, it certainly seems that they’re addressing the issues that, unless you’re behind the pop culture curve, seem to have been on the forefront of any discussion of New Girl’s debut season. Is Jess – and by extension Zooey Deschanel – a character that’s not for everyone? That’s probably fair. But why is it that some have such an aversion to her? Is it the way she dresses? Is it her quirkiness? “Jess & Julia” tries to address those issues in a fairly organic way. While Jess’s roommates have had her back almost from the jump [1], Nick’s new girlfriend Julia (guest star Lizzy Caplan) has no such reason to tolerate Jess. Beyond the fact that Julia sees what the audience sees [2], she just can’t get past Jess’s twee personality enough to want to have anything to do with her. Beyond the need to be civil for socially polite reasons, she bluntly tells Jess that she has no interest in ever being friends with her while also deriding Jess’s entire makeup [3]. It’s a testament to the talent of Caplan that while you maybe don’t necessarily agree with her viewpoint [4], you can at least see where she’s coming from. “Jess & Julia” starts with Julia initially seemingly having trouble with the Grand Central Station quality that Nick’s apartment possesses before her direct problem with Jess reveals itself. However, when it does [5], Julia pulls no punches and Jess confronts Nick over Julia’s dislike for her. The awkward relationship between the two women also leads to conflict in the Nick/Julia relationship as both are unaware that the other wants to make the relationship exclusive and the miscommunication yields comedic fruit in the scene where Jess confronts Julia in a bathroom only to have Julia dress her down and order her out of the room as she doesn’t want Jess to see her cry. Jess tries to take refuge in the men’s room but Nick has already claimed that for his own crying jag, leaving Jess crying alone in the hallway. Thankfully, Merriweather and her writers use this occasion to inject some more strength into the Jess character by having display a backbone in standing up to Julia’s slights – “And my checks have baby farm animals on them, bitch.” – which further proves that strong Jess is good Jess, and by giving her the ability to extend an olive branch to a potential enemy, as she does in the scene where Julia stops by the apartment to explain herself further and Jess invites her in to hang out with CeCe and her friend Sadie (June Diane Raphael) [6] where the two women seem to come to at least a détente of sorts. I agree with Adams’ assertion that it would be wise for New Girl to avoid going to the meta-Jess criticism well too often but it was a pretty effective way to address the rather large elephant that’s been in the room ever since New Girl hit the cultural zeitgeist this fall.

[1] Look no further than their serenading her with “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” in the middle of a restaurant after she’s stood up during her first post-breakup date in the series’ pilot.
[2] Namely, that a Jess/Nick coupling is all but inevitable.
[3] In trying to help Jess with a moving violation, she derisively waves at her by saying, “You never know. A judge might buy into this (waving at her) whole thing.”
[4] Because if you did, chances are you wouldn’t be watching New Girl by this point.
[5] Illustrated by such instances as Jess humorously trying to force desserts and blankets on Julia despite Julia’s protests that she’s not “a dessert person.”
[6] More on her in a bit.

*Winston continues to be somewhat of a problem for New Girl’s writers in that they still have yet to discover his purpose on the show, but Winston’s realization that he has no idea how to talk to women without using his status as a basketball player could be a promising road for the show to explore. His small victory in securing a date with an old flame (an impressive Kali Hawk, best recognized from Couples Retreat) after an embarrassing start – “You took me out for a drink at the place where I work. Here’s your bill.” – is a nice jumping-off point.
*”Jess & Julia” also continued the process of fleshing out the New Girl universe by introducing June Diane Raphael as Jess and CeCe’s friend Sadie, a lesbian who admits to once “(dating) a woman who looked like Nick” and whose utterance of the words “lesbian community” has Schmidt come flying out of his room with no shortage of questions for her. I’ve never really been a fan of Raphael in the past but she’s fine here and I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing her character again.
*80% of the products in the bathroom are Schmidt’s. Because of course they are. On a related note, any Odd Couple-esque examination of the differences between Nick and Schmidt is comedic gold. Here, it’s Schmidt’s frustration with a consistently damp towel that he ultimately finds out is also being used by Nick. Max Greenfield’s reaction to the revelation is priceless.
*Nick seems to have watched Cocktail one too many times, judging by his bottle flipping moves. Or lack thereof.
*Jess lets Julia know that she hides tampons all over the apartment, leading to this gem from Schmidt after attempting to cover his naked self with an apron: “A tampon? Why would you need this for cooking?”
*”Schmidt’s like Ellis Island in the 1800s. He accepts everyone.”
*”Jess, if you’ll excuse us Julia’s about to be very disappointed.”
*”I will be putting my dehumidifier and my towel in my room. Where nothing EVER gets wet.”
*”I’m like a mailman instead but instead of mail I’m delivering hot sex.”
*”Here, I’ll help you. (Washes counter)” “Winston, I’m the manager.”
*”Can somebody get my towel? It’s in my room next to my Irish walking cape.”
*”You’re making me gayer.”
*”No, I don’t wash a towel. The towel washes me. Who washes a towel?”
*”We all wear each other’s underwear.”
*Episode below via Hulu as usual.


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