by Clio McConnell
This week on “New Girl”—Zooey Deschanel gets a bit political. If you don’t believe me, just watch as Jess and Nick team up against the ‘one percent,’ represented in the episode by the handsome Dermot Mulroney.
Mulroney plays the titular Fancyman in the first segment of this two-parter sequence of episodes. His character, Russell, is the wealthy father of one of Jess’ students, and he does not make a good impression on Jess.
During their conversation about his daughter’s—admittedly troubling—artwork, Russell comes off as the kind of guy who phones in the parenting. As he says at one point, defending a decision he’s made without consulting his kid, “I’m her father, not her friend.” Needless to say, this parent-teacher conference does not end on good terms. (Though, to be honest, Deschanel’s sweet disposition doesn’t serve her too well as an indignant educator.)
Unfortunately for Jess, she is ordered by her boss to apologize—and grovel, if necessary—in order that Russell doesn’t yank his donation to the school. But Nick, after being unable to buy a cell phone based on his poor credit ratings—according to Winston, he has “the credit score of a homeless ghost”—is fed up with the well-to-dos, and urges Jess to stick it to the man.
Jess heads to Russell’s office, ready to deliver a burning tirade against wealth disparity, when her car breaks down in the middle of the road. And who should step in to save the day but the Fancyman himself? Russell offers to have her car fixed, and Jess tries to deny his help, explaining, “I wasn’t raised with money, so when something broke, we pretended it still worked.” He won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, though, and so Jess is forced to borrow Russell’s own snazzy car while he sends hers to the body shop. So, wait, why is she so down on this guy?
That is exactly Cece’s question, but Jess’ best friend seems to have a pretty solid answer—she thinks Jess wants a man to take care of, not one who will take care of her. (Calling Nick Miller!) Jess scoffs at this, and she goes with Nick to return Russell’s car, still resentful.
But even Nick’s hatred of the rich can’t keep him from respecting Russell’s awesome possessions. He is particularly enamored of the desk, which for some reason he can only really describe in terms of scent. Among the things this desk smells like are leather, Teddy Roosevelt, wistfulness, and Shakespeare—“if,” says Nick, “Shakespeare were a damn cowboy.”
Meanwhile, Winston is a part-time Nanny, who spends his babysitting time taking relationship advice from his pint-sized charge. The problem? Winston wants his almost-girlfriend to think he’s smart. (The kid’s suggestion? Fake glasses.)
Though Schmidt—who, admittedly, is my favorite part of this show—is less present in this episode, “Fancyman Pt. 1” still pretty effectively piles on the humor. It’s good to know that the other three roommates are capable of comedy to rival Schmidt’s.
Clio McConnell is theater/books editor. Email her at email@example.com.