Recap

'New Girl' Recap: The Hurtful Turtle 

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Oct 23, 2012 | 7:45pm EDT

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It made perfect sense during last night's episode of New Girl that Nick wanted to get a turtle, his spirit animal, as a pet. Not only do the two bear a striking physical resemblance, but both species move through life at a pace that best suits them and can hide under their shells when they feel threatened or scared. 

But even if you live with a turtle, or in the case of Schmidt, the elusive Nick Miller for a decade, if you're a sensitive person, their utter lack of care or returned love will eventually wear you down. That's exactly what happened during "Models," an episode that somehow found balance as it see-sawed between spot-on analysis of lifelong friendships and a truly unfortunate product placement scene. 

While Nick may have wanted a turtle, the last thing he wanted was a cookie. Or, at least, a cookie that was given to him by his best friend of 10 years because said best friend was just thinking about him. Now, I won't begin to pretend to understand the male psyche and how they can be so detached from their feelings, so having a character like Nick to watch is like getting an insightful and terrifying look inside. After Schmidt brings Nick a cookie just because, as friends do, the gesture knocked  over the emotional dominoes between the three guys in the apartment. 

When Nick tells Schmidt he never thinks about him during his day, the admission understandably upsets Schmidt. (In a nice change of character pacing, Max Greenfield got to play a more down-to-Earth, vulnerable side of Schmidt.) Winston takes his side, knowing all too well what it's like trying to break into "The Cold-Hearted Republic of Nick Miller." Nick Miller who can't be bothered to say goodnight, Nick Miller who truly believes "nobody buys anybody a cookie for no reason," Nick Miller who gets upset by the fact that his best friend loves and cares for him too much. 

Left to the devices of any other actor, Nick would probably look like the biggest jerk on television, but thankfully it's done with understated brilliance by Jake Johnson. Whether you know someone like Nick (I'd venture to guess that New Girl creator Liz Meriwether has a Nick in her life), or you are a Nick, Johnson's performance manages to make a complex character that's both insightful and relatable. Not something that can often be said about a sitcom character. 

Johnson stole the show last night, both with his hilariously curmudgeon facial reactions to his completely sincere conversations with both Schmidt and Winston, but Jess as well. I'm a sucker for any Jess and Nick moments, flirtatious or otherwise, but their scene in last night's episode was one of my favorites. When the two find themselves in the midst of respective friend fights (more on Jess' in a bit) Nick asks her if she thinks they'd be friends with their old friends if they met them today. (In a flashback we see that a horrendously mustachioed Nick met a Ramen-eating Schmidt in college and against all logic, they became pals.) It's a question anyone with a lifelong friend asks themselves at some point, and Johnson hit all the right notes in the scene. 

The guys eventually patched things up (as unconventional a sitcom as New Girl may be at times, it's still a sitcom) and all of them had a good cry and a good hug about it. As infuriating as a friend like Nick can be, you can't stay mad at him for too long. After all, under that shell he's just a big ol' softie. Besides, how could you get made at a guy who mistakes eye shadow for shoe polish and says things like this: 

"The only time a man is allowed to think about another man is when that man is Jay Cutler." 
"I can't go around saying goodnight to everyone and buying cookies. I am not a titan of finance, sir." 
"They were out of turtles. I bought a tiny cowboy hat for nothing." 
"I've got two perfectly good forks at the end of my arms." 
"You're the only turtle I want."

See? Impossible to stay mad at him for long. Jess, on the other hand — well, she can be even tougher to love at times. While the boys were having their own rift, so were Jess and Cece (Hannah Simone.) On Cece's birthday, Jess unwillingly joined her best friend and her admittedly god awful model friends (please, New Girl writers, I beg of you to get rid of the insufferable, unfunny, and indistinguishable Nadia character) for a night on the town. It all goes to hell in a designer handbag when a fed-up Jess airs her grievances about her best friend (namely, that modeling has made her dumber) all within earshot of Cece. 

This storyline walked the line of totally believable and relatable (best girlfriends absolutely hold onto childhood traditions like watching Clueless and can bounce back from just about any fight) to downright silly (boob fights aren't a thing.) While it packed one of the downright funniest moments ever on New Girl, when we discover that Jess actually resembles a monkey from a (fake, sadly) Russian cracker commercial, it also packed the single-most cringe-inducing. Now, I understand product placement is a thing that happens on TV. It happened on Friends with their massive Diet Coke campaign, it happened when Subway kept Chuck and Cougar Town on the air a little bit longer. But it still didn't make it any more fun to watch Deschanel have to do a demanding physical comedy routine while a veritable Ford commercial played over her. 

Still, I shouldn't judge. That's the very thing that found Jess in hot water when she judged Cece's life choices, from her diet to her career. But she, like anyone with a lifelong best friend, came to the realization that we don't love our friends in spite of these things that make them them, but because of them. That we often find someone who is different from us (Jess admits Cece is braver than she ever could be) to balance us out. That if we met them today, maybe we wouldn't be friends, but that's exactly why we met them when we did, so we could be friends as fate intended it. New Girl, let's be friends forever. Or at least a solid few more seasons. 

What did you think of last night's New Girl? Would you agree that Jake Johnson made the episode all his? Is Brian Austin Green your favorite rapper, too? Did you catch that little (500) Days of Summer nod when they played Hall & Oates' "You Make My Dreams"? Does it seem like the show is emphasizing Zooey Deschanel's sex appeal more and more each week? Share in the comments section, Gigglebangs Ricebowl. 

[Photo credit: Greg Gayne/Fox] 

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