Last night’s episode of New Girl was, I swear to God, about a handbell choir. When it started I was seriously concerned the episode, “Bells,” was going to be so twee that no one in the known universe was going to be able to actually get through it. But, incredibly, this episode worked. The writers scaled back Jess’s goofiness a little, threw in a prank-fight between Schmidt and Nick, and let the focus of the episode be on Winston—whom I think we’re being lead to believe is a handbell idiot savant—instead of on the OMG-LOOK-IT’S-HANDBELLS-AREN’T-WE-ALL-JUST-SO-EFFING-ADORKABLE nightmare this episode could have been.
Since Winston moved into the apartment, we really haven’t learned that much about him other than he is childhood friends with Nick and Schmidt and Coach (may he enjoy Happy Endings), he used to play basketball in Latvia, and is generally a good fit for the apartment. But there really hasn’t been much character development with him. He’s always there, but we hardly know him.
The very quiet ongoing story line with him is his struggle in finding a job. It’s been mentioned a time or two, but there hasn’t been a lot of talk about it. I actually love this story line, especially given the current employment climate. At the beginning of the episode we see him at his temp job, stuffing envelopes and looking bored out of his ever-lovin’ mind. Which is understandable, but hey, it’s a paycheck right? He tells Nick that the job is just the worst and Nick asks if he’s tried to make a game of it, and he has. But the job is so incredibly boring that not even a game can make it more palatable. Which is truly sad. Also sad is my issue with this storyline, which I otherwise like: it would make sense for Winston to try and get a job as, I don’t know, a high school or college basketball coach (I know this is complicated since there used to be a character called Coach in the pilot) or some sort of sports-related something-or-other. Perhaps go the Jason Street route and be a fancy-pants agent? I’m just saying. This makes sense to my brain. I think maybe I’d like the I-can’t-find-a-job storyline if it was given to Nick or CeCe.
Anyway, while Nick and Winston are having this conversation, Jess strides into the apartment with four angsty teenagers in tow. She announces that because their rehearsal space at school has been turned back into a hallway, her after-school handbell choir, Ensembell, needs to use the apartment to practice before their big concert at the end of the week. The guys are all surprisingly cool about this and let them have the living room to practice. As you might have expected, none of these kids enjoys playing the handbells, but there they are anyway, doing a horrific job of it.
After a bit of a handbell break, in which we are alerted to the fact that Nick is Mr. Fix It around the apartment (this in no way surprised me) but that Schmidt does not enjoy Nick’s fixes, we learn that Winston plays the hand bells LIKE A BOSS (read: beautifully and expertly and in a way that is probably not actually possible. But who the hell actually knows enough about hand bells to point this out?). Jess (and the other roomies) are amazed by this and Jess begs Winston to help her out with Ensembell by telling him that the two of them can use handbell jargon, which apparently includes the words tinkle and tonkle, to make fun of Nick. After a moment of brief consideration, Winston agrees. Because he is awesome, the kids adore him and want to learn from him and he thinks that they should play the montage classic, “Eye of the Tiger.” The twee-ness of this whole episode only grows and somehow still manages to be bearable. It’s a little bit amazing, really. Or maybe I just have a very high tolerance for all things twee. To be honest, that really wouldn’t surprise me. (Says the girl who un-ironically wears patterned knee socks almost every day.)
Anyway! Turns out that Winston takes the handbells VERY SERIOUSLY (he actually gets fired from his temp job because he ends up making a hat for himself out of office supplies and spends all his time playing air-handbells.) and is disgusted with the lack of effort/talent these poor kids have for them. He ends up yelling at them and telling them they all suck, which pisses Jess off to no end. She kicks him out of Ensembell and then tells him that she doesn’t care if the kids suck at handbells, she cares about them feeling good about themselves and having positive reinforcement during their angsty teenage years and that his telling them they suck isn’t helping anything. I was all kinds of very “Right on!” during this whole thing, not so much because I adore positive reinforcement, but because I like it when Jess acts like an adult. And you know, I bet she’s a kick-ass, albeit a little bizarre and corny, teacher.
So let’s wrap up this story line because I’m tired of talking about it: Nick and Winston have a manly heart to heart up on the roof about how Winston always makes everything about him and that sometimes the world isn’t Winston-centric. Then, the day of the handbell concert, all of the roomies show up at sort of the last minute and Winston plays “Eye of the Tiger” with the rest of the kids.
So! The much more fun and decidedly less-hipster B-plot of this episode is the incredible prank-fight that takes place between Nick and Schmidt. So, after Schmidt announces his displeasure with Nick’s non-fancy fix-it strategies (“All I’m hearing is that I can’t use my bathroom because you’re poor.”), Schmidt calls a plumber to fix the toilet in a style Schmidt considers legit. This prompts a fight between Nick and Schmidt over something like Schmidt’s reimbursement of $30 for ruining a sentimental gift Nick’s (now dead) grandmother gave him by somehow pouring a pitcher of Midori Sour on it. So, that leads me to this: How in the world are Nick and Schmidt friends in the first place? It seems as if Schmidt stands for everything Nick hates and the only reason they are still friends is because they were childhood friends. I mean, I’m not complaining, because those two fighting had me snort-laughing, but I’m just saying. Anyway, the only person I have ever seen order a Midori Sour is my mother (Hi mom!) who hardly ever drinks. And I’ve only ever seen her order it once.
Anyway, the prank-fight includes Schmidt dumping all of Nick’s things from the freezer onto Nick’s bed (with him in it) to thaw out overnight (which is SO GROSS I CAN’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT), Nick moving the couch and refrigerator into Schmidt’s room, and Nick un-fixing all of the things in the apartment he has previously fixed. There is also an INCREDIBLE fight in which Schmidt yells at Nick for using his conditioner as shampoo. You know what this calls for, right? GIF TIME.
This all culminates in Schmidt and Nick chasing each other around the kitchen island/counter thing and Schmidt calling Nick a loser. Which is SO NOT COOL. Nick is properly pissed off and Schmidt is immediately remorseful, but you know, the truth will always out. And I assume that the airing of these feelings will prompt Nick out of his bartending gig and perhaps back into law school. Or something. Anyway, at the end of the episode, Nick and Schmidt have made up and Winston and Jess have made up and everything is hunky-dory again.
- Do we think Zooey D. just shows up on set and the wardrobe people are like, “Well, we pulled these outfits for Jess, but what you’re wearing is MUCH better.”? Because that’s pretty much what I imagine happens.
- Nick’s hair really DOES look nicer than normal during the conditioner fight.
- “Water crackers are for adults. With adult cheese.”—Schmidt. This line made me laugh like an insane hyena. There is probably something wrong with me.
- “I can’t hear anything you say when you wear that sweater, Schmidt. All I hear is ‘Cardigan. Cardigan. I wear a cardigan.’”—Nick. <3
- Jess has some line about how “Jingle Bells” is a horrible song that doesn’t deserve to be played on the majestic instrument that is the handbells. For some reason I didn’t pay it much attention at first, but now that I’m thinking back on this episode, it was probably really funny.
- I’m also a big fan of this Jess line, “We got a huge donation of handbells, which are très très dope.”
So what did you, dear reader, think about this episode? Did you hate it? Love it? Turn it off because you couldn’t handle the handbells? Also, if you know from whence the Jess outfit in the photo at the top came (I’m thinking ModCloth, but I haven’t taken the time to check because the overlords of the company I work for are demanding corrections on a workbook I’m editing BY THE END OF THE DAY.) please do let me know. And if you’d like to buy if for me for Christmas, I would not return it. JUST SAYING.