New Girl: “Chicago”, Review

Tragedy and comedy attempt to co-exist, like when I make jokes at funerals and get laughs as well as dirty looks...

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I can’t complain about Nick and Jess not getting together in this episode because it’s a serious one. Just going to come right out and tell it: Nick’s dad dies.

Granted, he tells everyone the news in the midst of a balloon-voice joke (you know, when you suck in helium so you talk funny): but I have to say, that was the saddest, most serious balloon-voice chorus I have ever heard. Was it funny? Eh. Maybe a little. I feel they could have left out the comedy for that and just kept the gravity.

Nonetheless, Walt died from a heart attack which means Nick, Jess, Winston and Schmidt all flew back to Nick’s hometown to attend the funeral. Before they enter Nick’s house, Winston and Schmidt warned Jess that Nick’s family is a little weird.

Uh-oh. What could possibly be so bad as to make Schmidt and Winston call it weird??? Moreover, what is so weird that SCHMIDT thinks it’s weird?

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Apparently, it’s not so much weird as Nick’s family is kind of a group of people who really don’t have it together/insert blue collar stereotypes here. Back in the bosom of his family, Nick turns out of the responsible one.

What? Nick? Responsible? In the same sentence? About The Same PERSON?

Yep, he is. He is the one who has to arrange and plan the funeral. An Elvis funeral, as Walt wanted. Complete with an Elvis impersonator. Oh, and he also has to do the eulogy.

And insight into the psychology of Nick’s character in 3… 2… ding! Goes off.

Nick, of course, is fine with doing everything except the eulogy. He tries to get Jess to do it. Jess takes a stab at it (she promised to help him in any way) and despite Nick’s mother’s instant dislike of her (the mother being the epitome of TV motherhood, Margo Martindale), perserveres in supporting her friend. She even tries to interview Nick’s cousin and brother about Walt. All that results in is the revelation that Walt stole a chain off the cousin’s father. Jess confronts Nick and says he should do it. Nick, being Nick, runs away.

In another corner of the house, Schmidt confesses his great fear of death to Winston. It’s not just death, either: he’s afraid of the body moving (yep, it’s open casket). In order to “coach” him through it (is that a callback to Coach I hear?), Winston pretends to be a corpse and has Schmidt talk to him. Schmidt delivers an inappropriate yet ultimately touching mini-eulogy of Winston. Winston then tells him he appreciates it—which completely freaks Schmidt out.

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Naturally, once at the funeral, chaos descends. Nick shows up a drunk with an Elvis costume, and a drunk dude he hired at the bar to play the impersonator. Jess is horrified. She rushes to sober Nick and Elvis up. Winston wanders around. Schmidt gets into a fight—ok, it’s not a fight, because fisticuffs do not fly. The cousin tries to steal back his father’s chain from Walt’s body. Schmidt overcomes his fear of death/dead people by stopping him, and dipping his head into the open casket. Multiple, multiple times.

Jess sobers Nick up enough to have him confess he didn’t write the eulogy (ok, he did, but a two word one doesn’t count). He’s sorry she’s mad at him. She tells him she’s not mad, she is just there for him, and will help him any way she can. Then Elvis wanders out, tipsy and about to throw up, and Jess rushes away to prop him up.

Stalling for time, Nick’s mother asks Winston to say a few words. Winston does say a few words, and by few I mean like five until he has an embarrassing, crying breakdown. Winston apparently really loved Walt. Like, whoa.

Rushing to find her son, Nick’s mother instead happens upon Jess trying to sober up Elvis. Elvis passes out. Nick’s mother declares the funeral ruined, and says she’s going to cancel it. She also insults Jess a few times for good measure. Is there any good reason why Nick’s mother doesn’t like Jess? No, not really. But it’s fun to watch.

Jess eyes the Elvis costume, and one can see inspiration strike.  No surprise then that Jess saves the day by climbing into the costume (which oddly fits her well) and doing her best Elvis rendition. Her support gives Nick the courage to give a proper eulogy—and at the right time, Jess/Elvis holds Nick’s hand in support.

That finally over, the gang heads home, Winston with lots of Walt memorabilia, Schmidt no longer afraid of death, Jess with Cheetos (yep, unsurprisingly her anctics at the funeral win Nick’s mother over so she provides Jess with a snack for the trip home), and Nick with a punch in the nuts from his brother. Why? Because his brother is getting married!!!

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I know, it didn’t make sense then, and it makes less sense writing about it, but hey, it made me giggle.

Though it was easy to see where things were going plot wise, I give the episode an A+ for hitting all the serious notes well (except possibly for the balloon opening sequence).  All the actors were excellent, and Jake Johnson delivered one of his finest performances of the season with Nick’s eulogy. Jess was dewy-eyed, but not in an annoying, Kewpie manner (these were sincere tears people), Winston was touching in his efforts to help Schmidt, and Schmidt was… well … Schmidt.

Come on. What else would he be? Even at a funeral, no New Girl episode is right without Schmidt being that guy who is equals parts inappropriate, adorable, insane, and sincere, who also gets to utter one of the best lines of the night during Jess’s performance of “In The Ghetto”: “I’m really feeling transported to the ghetto with this.”

Ah, Schmidt. Ladies, you do have to love the obnoxious goof, especially when he breaks out the Yiddish. Schmattes. Adorable. And no, Jess and Nick do not kiss physically. But they kiss emotionally. And that is equally as important. That phrasing sounded better before I typed it out. Ah well. My man Schmidt knows what I mean.