Recaps

New Girl: Thanksgiving unplugged

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I know it’s only in its third season, but one of the lasting impressions New Girl will leave when it’s all said and done will be its purposeful focus on holiday episodes. Every season, the writers have made it a point of emphasis to celebrate major holidays and often birthdays.

Some television shows use the four seasons to tell time. Some shows ignore time all together. New Girl embraces holidays as the best way to keep the story on a timeline. The writers ignore summer and plot out the episodes based on the actual air dates. Granted, there are a lot of network television shows, especially comedies, that do this because it convinces the viewer that they are living along side the characters.

New Girl typically dominates these episodes. “The 23rd,” the season one Christmas episode during which the gang goes to Schmidt’s holiday office part and then Candy Cane Lane, is a top five episode for this show. Likewise, “Thanksgiving,” of the first season, should be in the top ten. The latest episode is rightfully called “Thanksgiving III.”

This third Thanksgiving episode shares a similar theme with the excellent “The 23rd.” In “The 23rd,” Schmidt stands up for himself in front of his co-workers, who make him be Sexy Santa every year. He’s basically whipped, hoping one of them will repay him by sleeping with him — cough, cough, his hot boss — but nobody takes him seriously. “Thanksgiving III” is also about proving you’re a man. Coach challenges Nick, who is more feminine by the episode. So Nick sets out to over-prove that he’s a man.

He invites everyone to have Thanksgiving in the wilderness, convincing Jess it was both of their ideas and challenging the guys not to be the wuss of the loft. Nick buys all the beer, but doesn’t buy ice to cool it; moreover, he plans to hunt their meal.

The group splits into teams, ironically into most feminine and most masculine. Jess, Cece and Winston end up at a grocery store, trick Nick into thinking they found it all, but forget to take the labels off of the apples. Nick is stuck with well-read wilderness expert Schmidt and been-a-long-time-since-I-was-an-Eagle-Scout Coach — all out to prove their manliness for women in their lives, thus reiterating the idea that Schmidt is not over Cece.

Nick is really into it, marking trees and digging holes for bear traps. After he and Jess get out of the hole at the end, I fully expected a bear to show up and fall into it. I thought that ending would’ve been much better than the one the writers came up with.

Nick is determined to prove he’s a man, even though he’s the one who came up with the idea for the Thanksgiving e-card. So when he finds a dead fish in the lake, he rolls with the idea that he killed it with his bare hands. But that goes to far, of course, leaving Jess hospitalized after taking a bite out of an uncooked, dead-for-how-long fish on a stick.

We’re left with Nick coming to grips with his newfound femininity and a nice scene with the gang eating a bunch of hospital garbage around Jess’ hospital bed. It’s a sufficient holiday episode that establishes some important storylines going forward. I wasn’t going to recap it, seeing as I’m a week late, but sometimes Thanksgiving takes you away from the things you do on a daily basis and draws you toward family instead. No matter what, though, you’ll always return to who you really are, even Nick, who’s wearing football pants for the support of breast cancer. Try again, bud.

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