New Girl Season 5 Episode 4 Review: “No Girl”

New Girl

When New Girl debuted back in 2011, it was promoted as a starring vehicle for Zooey Deschanel, with the rest of the show’s cast members playing supporting roles in whatever Jess’ big story was each week. That format stuck for the first half of New Girl‘s first season, but by the end of Season 1, the sitcom evolved into one of the best ensemble comedies on TV, utilizing the specific comedic abilities of all of its talented actors.

And that’s why I wasn’t worried about how New Girl would fare when it was announced that Zooey Deschanel would be absent from a few of the show’s episodes due to her pregnancy. This is a sitcom with such a deep, charismatic cast and such funny and rich characters that the writers would be able to come up with strong stories that weren’t weakened by Jess’ lack of involvement, and that’s exactly what “No Girl” delivered.

“No Girl” smartly splits its time between two main stories: Nick running a hotel out of the loft to raise money so he can take Schmidt to Tokyo for his bachelor party, and Winston turning to Cece for help with his relationship problems. Both stories are only possible because Jess isn’t at the loft (Nick rents out her room to Fred Armisen’s Brandon, a very weird guy who says he’s trying to finish his novel, and Winston only turns to Cece for advice because he doesn’t want to bother Jess while she’s on jury duty), but Jess’ absence isn’t the focal point of either of them.

The Nick/Schmidt storyline provides New Girl with another opportunity to illustrate the strength of the pair’s friendship.  Schmidt rejecting Todd’s money, promising Nick that it doesn’t matter where they go for his bachelor party, serves as a nice reminder that, as obsessed with status and luxury as Schmidt is, he always values the people he loves more.

Meanwhile, the plot involving Winston’s girlfriend, Casey, allows for a funny but powerful moment of growth for his character and, of course, another classic Winston-and-Cece mess-around. Winston getting Casey to cry, after Cece tells her that he died, is definitely crazy and completely messed up (something the two of them acknowledge after the fact), but it also, in a way, helps give Winston his confidence back. While it may not have been the most healthy or typical way of getting over a break-up, making Casey cry allows Winston to move on from the several girlfriends that have cheated on him in the past and become more assured in himself.

Although both of these storylines definitely have depth to them, the main takeaway from “No Girl” is that New Girl will be perfectly fine without Jess, at least for a few episodes. While Deschanel’s absence will be felt, each member of the show’s incredibly talented cast has proven how that he or she can be the star of New Girl on a weekly basis, and if they all keep working together as well as they did in “No Girl,” we’re in for a lot of laughs and some pretty terrific episodes of TV.

Other thoughts:

  • I apologize for how delayed this review is. My FOX feed froze last night five minutes into the episode, so I had to wait to watch it on Hulu this morning.
  • Everything involving Nick, Schmidt, and the “hotel” guests at the loft was so great. I particularly loved the various misunderstanding between Nick and Kumiko, and Schmidt’s reactions to the girl’s impressions. “Rocky V? Of all of the Rockys?”
  • More classic Winston and Cece mess-arounds, please. The two of them are so great together. Side note: I love that Hannah Simone is being given more to do this season.
  • Jess in the courtroom sketches was so funny, and I loved the little detail of the news anchor calling them an “annoyingly inquisitive jury.”
  • Nick and Schmidt’s reactions to Brandon saying “She took a fifteen on my face” were priceless.
  • Also priceless: Winston crying and Schmidt taking off gloves.
  • “I’m gonna eat sushi off my own a**!”
  • “And you have all the focus of a coked up Italian on a summer day.”
  • “I haven’t taken my pants off in front of a woman in quite some time. I’m sorry the pretzel fell out. That was unexpected. I honestly don’t know how long it was in my underpants, and that is disturbing to me. Thank you for not overreacting to it.”
  • “In otter news…”

What did everyone else think about this week’s episode of New Girl? Comment below and let me know.

[Photo credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX]

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