New Girl: Downton Abby


Linda Cardellini is the newest branch on Jessica Day’s family tree, playing Jess’ troublemaking older sister, Abby, whom she is terrified to introduce to Nick. She fits the bill remarkably well, though only by mere expectations. Cardellini is a visible match for Jess and unapologetically different than her younger sister, but this week’s “Sister” doesn’t scratch the surface of what we expect her potential will be.

“Sister” never really gives Cardellini a chance. Jess bails her out of jail, wants to shuttle her to the airport immediately and expects the worst of her sister, but Abby comes across as sweeter person than we’re led to believe. Cardellini doesn’t click charismatically with Zooey Deschanel as sisters should, but expect that to improve with time. Abby’s sticking around for a while, until she gets back on her feet. Her corky similarities to her mother are a nice touch and will get better in time.

Nick is the object of everyone’s desire, except Jess, this week. Winston wants him to come to his dinner party, to ease the tension between Coach and Cece. The pair couldn’t have worse chemistry, even though they end up kind of making out. Schmidt needs a wing man for a Bar Mitzvah and wins Nick’s assistance. He may not be as good as he once was, but his distracting, vocal desire plea to make love to a sweet old lady is blown out of proportion and hilarious. You can tell how good a wingman is by how hard he gets punched. Nick gets a nice shiner.

The makeup department made the 38-year-old Cardellini looks a little bit younger, but her natural look works for her. Abby wears clothes too hip for her age, bringing the whole “I’m a 30-something year old failure” facade full circle. “New Girl” didn’t need to throw her in jail to push that point across. This episode gives us a mannequin sister who fits with Jess on many different levels, except some important ones. Their chemistry will improve as Cardellini finds her place in the loft among other excellent scene stealers like Jake Johnson and Max Greenfield. It’s too soon to call her a disappointment, but viewers are allowed to be confused. I didn’t completely buy into Jess’ character after the pilot episode and I’m not putting stock in Abby after “Sister.”


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