by Clio McConnell
Back from a brief hiatus to accommodate the World Series, FOX’s “New Girl” returned with a gut-busting fourth episode, “Naked.” Zooey Deschanel’s show has slowly but surely earned its reputation as the season’s best new comedy, and seems to be holding its place securely.
The premise of this latest episode is a classic: girl sees friend-who-is-a-guy naked. In this specific case, Jess sees Nick sans clothing dancing around to Jamaican music, apparently getting pumped up for an impending date. Unfortunately, upon beholding Nick’s euphemistically titled “pee-pee and bubbles,” Jess emits a “little crazy giggle shriek” – embarrassing to both roommates – and flees the room.
Needless to say, Nick’s self-confidence is wounded, and a further blow comes when Schmidt assesses Nick as “a chubby, damaged flower who hates himself,” leading that Jess, Schmidt, and Winston to spend the rest of the show trying to cheer him up. In the show’s trademark predictable-yet-humorous fashion, the remainder of “Naked” included quite a few penis jokes, with several more ridiculous euphemisms for the male genitalia thrown in, courtesy of Jess.
Now that the characters have been established in all their hilarious glory, the writers seem more confident and willing to use different material. As we wade deeper into the season, “New Girl” endeavors to traverse some new territory, both in its comedy and character development.
A minor storyline of this episode revolved around Winston’s attempts to find a job. Back in the US after two years playing basketball in Latvia, he has no idea what’s happening in American culture, and so he’s having trouble with the “chit-chat” part of the interview process. When Winston asks him to give a brief summary of the status quo, Schmidt doles out some quippy social commentary: “Well… the country’s broke. And Betty White’s back.” Though the attempt at smarter, satirical humor falls a little flat – after all, Schmidt is not exactly the sharpest tool in the box – the effort was made, and with some work the writers could insert this high comedy more often.
The deepening of character manifests itself in the repeated mention of Jess’ day job: Kindergarten Teacher. Though this background has briefly been alluded to in previous episodes, “Naked” really gets the point across. As we’ve gotten to know Jess, it becomes apparent that teaching tots would be a great job for her – she’s just about as lost, immature, and fun as the five-year-olds she would instruct. This week, we learn how vulnerable she really is. In a conversation with her best girl friend, Cece (Hannah Simone), Jess is worried about her social faux pas, namely, laughing at Nick’s junk. She feebly reveals, “I guess I missed the moment when everybody got cool about sex.” Though by no means approaching an after-school-special level of touchy-feely, “New Girl” now proves you can have a little bit of wholesomeness sprinkled in with the pop culture references and sex jokes.
Clio McConnell is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.