This was a big week for two of my favorite sitcoms, New Girl and The Mindy Project. For New Girl, it was all about delivering on a moment that has been rather anticipated since the show began, and for Mindy it was about continuing to work out the kinks of a new show. But both shows fell pretty hard into a sort of “rom-com” category, in pretty interesting ways.
This episode of New Girl was already generating buzz on the Interwebs before it had even aired for us civilians, so I was surprised when the first half of “Cooler” didn’t really do it for me. The guys were moaning about wanting to have sex, and Jess reverted to the more cartoonish, childish character we met in season one. This show has definitely moved beyond those beats.
That said, it wasn’t all bad. Zooey Deschanel got a few laughs out of having the apartment to herself, and I laughed out loud when she fumbled the phone after hearing a noise outside the apartment. But the girl hiding in a fort and saying “I need you” isn’t exactly my favorite part of that character. (Though I like that Jess called both her boyfriend and her best friend before calling Nick, because it further complicates what happened at the end of the episode.)
Where the episode picked up was, of course, with the return of “True American”, the best game ever invented. Jess initiated a sexy new version of the game to help Nick score with another girl, but the attempt backfired and the rules dictated that Jess and Nick had to kiss. After a lot of arguing, Jess was ready to just do it already and Nick let out an accidental, heartfelt “Not like this!” The show succeeded by following that up with the hilarity of Nick climbing out a window to escape. Oh, and he was wearing a woman’s trench coat for the whole episode.
The big moment came later, when the noise (a neighbor’s dog, it turned out) got Jess and Nick out of bed in the middle of the night. He laid an intense, passionate kiss on her.
Many critics have expressed doubt about the will-they-or-won’t-they aspect of Jess and Nick’s relationship, but it’s always been a key part of the show. Yes, it’s a much more mainstream narrative that will appeal to your average TV viewer instead of just people who love wacky sitcoms. But, you know, good ratings aren’t a bad thing either. I think the writers can make this work – especially because, as far as we know, Jess isn’t dumping her hot doctor boyfriend for Nick any time soon. I think this is a positive development, and a wrinkle in the roommate situation that needed to occur eventually.
Meanwhile, this week’s episode of The Mindy Project appeared to be one of the first since the show retooled a little. We met one of Mindy’s new friends (resulting in the BEST line of the night: “Best friend isn’t a person, Danny. It’s a tier.”) and Shauna was nowhere to be seen.
Mindy is still struggling with the romantic-comedy-meets-workplace-sitcom vibe, but I tend to like the show much more than most critics. The show is about Mindy Lahiri, and that includes both her dating life and her work life. I think to keep both those worlds satisfied, the show needs to rely pretty heavily on the sexual tension between Mindy and Danny – more so than New Girl has had to with Jess and Nick. What works is Mindy, Danny and hopefully eventually Jeremy, talking about their romantic exploits at work. Mindy going on an awkward date with B.J. Novak and then discussing it with her male colleagues works, as does Mindy gushing to Danny about his girlfriend “Eye Patch”. The icing on the cake was both Mindy and Danny trying to resuscitate those relationships with grand gestures right out of a cheesy rom-com. Mindiana Jones worked, Danny confusing “Torn” (Natalie Imbruglia) for “Korn” did not work. (For him, I mean. Comedically, the scene was gold.)
I liked both episodes enough that I thought it merited a blog post outside of “Funny Friday”, and I’m looking forward to seeing, in particular, how New Girl will approach the rest of the second season post-kiss.
PS: Are you a fan of 30 Rock? Check out the blog tomorrow for a farewell guest post from my pal Krista Spurr.