New Girl: Jess and an identity crisis

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Jess’ full-blown identity crisis comes to a head in the “New Girl” return this week. She’s given 19 minutes to decide her future — continue teaching or accept a full-time position at a museum — so, she does so in the place where only the best choices are made: the bar.

Jess has a natural reaction to this critical decision, especially since she’s had terrible luck as a teacher. The cool teachers rejected her. She was bullied by one of her students. She stalked an adult student, thinking he was a murderer. She trespassed on her boss’ backyard, only to run into him fresh out of the hot tub. Now, as we find out in this week’s episode, her “first student” is wanted by the FBI. Her dream to positively effect kids’ lives was souring.

The show was quietly building to this moment. Nobody wanted to hire her for the longest time, which would make any of us question if we were going down the right path in our lives, right? Jess goes to the guys for advice, preparing herself for answers with three shots of scotch, and the “New Girl” creators use their most successful device to help her make a decision — flashbacks.

We’ve learned most of what we know about the roommates through flashbacks. This week is no different. Coach’s real name is Ernie. Schmidt used to be a fat nurse. Everything in Winston’s life was already predetermined for him. Cece was Jess’ first student.

Nick’s story is the key, because why wouldn’t it be. Jess’ decision isn’t as much about the specific jobs as it is about being comfortable with the people around you in your life. It takes this counseling session at the bar for her to realize that her roommates and best friend are the people she wants to be around. She doesn’t need a life change. Nick passed the bar exam, but decided he wanted to be a bartender instead. Apparently Nick is the one who has his life most put together. He’s just doing what he loves, and that’s what we can take from this episode.

Good job to the “New Girl” creators for keeping this return episode simple: 30 minutes in one of the show’s best settings, using its best storytelling device.

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