New Girl: An Open Letter To Justin Long

Dear Justin Long,
Hi, how are you? I’m a big fan of your work. No seriously – I cry myself to sleep at night because I can’t get Ed on DVD, and I actually really liked both He’s Just Not That Into You and Going The Distance. And OK, I don’t use a Mac, but I totally dug you in those commercials. 
Anyway, I’m writing because you were really great on New Girl last night. It was the funniest episode the show has had yet, and you really brought out the best in everyone. I know you’re supposed to stick around for three episodes, but do you think that could be extended? This show clearly needs you. I need you. Just think about it, OK?

OK, so who watched New Girl last night? It was hilarious, right? I had so many laugh out loud moments, and I don’t think I even cringed at Jess once. Justin Long’s nerdy character helped her strike the right balance of wacky Jess-ness without being grating. In fact, I thought all the characters were pitch-perfect in “Thanksgiving”.

Jess’s Love Triangle

Jess met her match in Paul, an equally awkward and nerdy fellow teacher. Jess was into Paul, and invited him over for Thanksgiving dinner after he mentioned that he usually spent it with his grandmother, who died recently.

None of the guys wanted to have Thanksgiving, but Jess went ahead and hosted a dinner. But this time it wasn’t in an annoyingly oblivious-to-the-needs-of-her-roommates way, it was to impress a guy she liked. That’s something people can actually relate to. The problem was that Jess needed help with the cooking, so she bribed Schmidt into helping by offering to invite CeCe.

Obviously, the romantic connection between Jess and Paul is designed to highlight the romantic connection between Jess and Nick – he was the only guy who didn’t like Paul. But that works. Jess was an emotional mess when she moved in, and if the writers want a relationship between Jess and Nick to actually work out then she needs to rebound with someone else. In the meantime it was fun to see Nick be grumpy and jealous, and the screaming match they had about Jess wanting to sleep with Paul was so hilarious, since we knew everyone on the inside of the door could hear everything they were saying. I can’t wait to see where the relationship between Jess and Paul goes over the course of the rest of his story arc.

Winston’s Requirements

As well as being a great episode for Jess, I thought this was the best we’ve seen Winston so far. When Jess introduced Paul, he immediately went to work on finding out if this potential fifth roommate would be a good fit for them. The word association game he played with Paul was hilarious – kazoo! – but also revealed that Paul respects boundaries and personal privacy. Later, the two bonded over having close relationships with their grandparents. It was fun to see Winston’s total acceptance of Paul contrasted by Nick’s grumpiness, and I think it was the first time Winston’s character was really well-used.

Schmidt’s Quirks

Meanwhile, cooking dinner with CeCe revealed that Schmidt has some quirks of his own, like near Emma Pillsbury level OCD. He shouted at CeCe for her unsanitary ways (but seriously, wash your hands before preparing food!) and that kind of turned her on. I like the tension that’s being created between these two characters because it’s completely different than the tension being created between Jess and Nick. It seems obvious that Jess and Nick will eventually get together, but the future is more unclear for Schmidt and CeCe. Yet, the mutual attraction is acknowledged in their case but is not yet acknowledged for Jess and Nick. That makes it a fun contrast.

Poor Schmidt worked so hard on preparing dinner, only to be thwarted time and time again. The turkey was frozen, they put it in the clothes dryer to thaw, only to have the dryer explode. The smoke forced them out of the apartment and into the one next door (Jess was watching it for a neighbor on vacation) and right before they sat down to eat, poor Paul discovered the dead body of the apartment’s occupant, Mrs. Beverly. Not only was this unexpected, but it was hilarious as Paul tried to escape the building and got trapped in the elevator with the body on a stretcher.

Later, Paul rejoined the group as they were in line at Best Buy for Black Friday, winning some brownie points from bringing along a bag full of turkey subs. (Foot longs!) He and Jess skipped away, singing together like totally happy weirdos who are about to go have sex.

So what did you guys think of “Thankgiving”? I really enjoyed all the little quirks and one-liners, so check out my list of a few of them below. It’s a long list, but I thought it was a really funny episode.

  • Schmidt declaring that the sexiest holidays are the Fourth of July, Independence Day (obviously), Women’s History Month, and Christmas. (Not New Year’s Eve? Or Valentine’s Day?)
  • Paul brought a violin with him to dinner. Amazing.
  • Paul’s attempts to make smalltalk with Nick in the car were just great, from his perfectly acceptable comment that it doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving without a crispness in the air to his note that he gets his copies at that store over there, only no, the other location. That one was more of a stretch. 
  • I have also been known to call half-time “intermission”. On more than one occasion. I have also asked people “Oh hey, how did your audition for the football team go?” and have been completely serious.
  • Jess perkily responding “I know!” when Nick sarcastically points out that she should definitely want to be the girl who replaces the guy’s dead Nana.
  • Schmidt saying “Be honest. Is the turkey named Paul?” when Jess says Paul is coming for dinner. (No, the turkey’s name was Hank. Hank Sgiving.”
  • CeCe sticking her entire hand in a bowl of pudding to get Schmidt to yell at her.
  • Hurray for continuity! Jess was wearing her Ms. Day’s Jam-borree T-shirt she fought to get back from her ex-boyfriend, and there were a couple of Douchebag Jar references.
  • Nick’s turtle face was fantastic.
  • Schmidt yelling “It’s like a Prince video in here” when the apartment was overtaken by smoke was only surpassed by the even more hilarious “My Lasik eye is freaking out!”
  • Jess’s list of sexual positions – my favorite was the “Give Me That Hat”.
  • Jess trying to pretend like the conversation she had with Nick was rehearsal for a terrible play.


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