New Girl, Ep 2.13,“A Father’s love” – Horses, Cons and the golden rule of sitcom

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New Girl Episode 13: “A Father’s love”
Written by: Berkley Johnson & Josh Malmuth
Directed by: Jake Kasdan
Original Airdate: 15 January 2013

 

This week’s episode of New Girl begins with a time-killer scene where Nick is blindfolded during a game of ‘feely-cup’ that further enhances the surprise arrival of his father.

Nick resents his father and in “A Father’s Love”, New Girl attempts to pull on the audience’s heartstrings. This is a difficult balance to perfect so the episodes where New Girl tries to be serious and heart felt (“The Injury” in season 1) are hit and miss. Comedies that have been running longer such as Parks and Rec and Community have this skill down to an art. With New Girl only in its second season, this episode felt a little weak at times.

Nick grew up resenting his father for reasons including unpredictability and a warped moral compass, however Winston never had a father around so he clung to Walt Miller in a hilarious fashion. A charming characteristic of New Girl is once again present this episode, flashbacks. The use of flashbacks never fails to entertain; the child actors are always outstanding.

Upon learning Nick’s father is a conman, the rest of episode is somewhat predictable. Due to the formulaic nature of the sitcom genre, predictability is expected. What matters is how well written it is, when New Girl usually is on top form writing wise, this week didn’t stand out much. Throughout the episode sweet, gullible Jess falls victim to Walt’s range of lies. Playing on Jess’ refusal to see any bad in the world, this plot felt almost a little too over the top.

From the beginning of the episode, Nick on top, angry form tries to tell his housemates that his dad is merely a charmer. Of course, they do not realise, or learn this till half way through the episode, causing a blowout of some sort and in typical sitcom fashion the end of the episode restores normality.

During a day at the races, Mr. Miller sweet talks Jess and convinces her to buy a horse “for Nick”. Prior to this we learn he also owes Winston a large amount of money, further anchoring everything Nick has told us about his father.

In a condense format like the half-hour comedy the most important lesson of a great con-man episode like The Simpsons’ “Marge Vs. The Monorail” is, it’s not the con that matters – it’s the consequences. At the races, the characters and audience learn that when his father was in a sticky situation, Nick would fake diabetes. The end of the episode shows Walt in a similar situation and New Girl should be praised for sticking to the golden rule of sitcom: nothing ever changes.

There are also other moments that do work. In a hilarious, Schmidt-focused B story we see the return of Robbie, Cece’s nerdy ex-boyfriend. The duo (both still hopelessly in love with her) comes in contact when both spying on a date arranged by Cece’s parents. Schmidt trying to win Cece back from another man is tired territory, but teaming up with Robby to do so creates a fresh new dynamic between the two. This newfound bromance provides a marvelous source of laughs and it will be interesting to see if this goes any further.

Much like last week, the episode ends with a heartfelt moment, bringing Jess and Nick closer together. Now understanding where he is coming from, what he has had to deal with and giving him credit for being used to it, the pair seem to be getting on and closer than ever.

Will the writers be able to string this will-they-won’t-they romance out for another season? I hope so.

 

Tara Costello

 

 

 

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