New Girl Review: “Naked” (1.04)

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<i>New Girl</i> Review: &#8220;Naked&#8221; (1.04)

It’s been almost a month since the last episode of New Girl, and it returns with one of the most common sitcom staples: the “roommates seeing each other naked” episode. New Girl has never been the most groundbreaking of comedies, always just a few steps away from being exactly what is expected. But with “Naked,” New Girl takes an old formula and adds to it in several fun ways.

For the first time since his break-up, Nick has a date. He is pretty nervous about his date with the too-ironic Amanda (played by the great Lake Bell from Children’s Hospital and How to Make It In America), when his roommates point out he’s getting a bit chubby. In an attempt to boost his confidence, Nick takes off his clothes, turns on some reggae and does some naked dancing in the mirror. Jess unsuspectingly walks in, does a scream-giggle, then runs out. When she confronts Winston and Schmidt about it, Schmidt says it’s no big deal, he’s seen Nick’s penis many times. Realizing that he’s the only one that hasn’t seen it, Schmidt makes it his goal to not be left out anymore. Meanwhile Winston, who’s been out of the country playing basketball, figures out he is lacking any pop culture knowledge that ruined one of his job interviews. When he asks Schmidt what he’s missed, he sums up the last few years with, “Well the country’s broke. And Betty White is back.” To make sure this doesn’t happen again, Winston vows to make up for lost time by catching up with everything that happened in the years he’s been gone.

Nick’s first date goes very well, as Amanda brings him back to her place. Everything’s going fine, until he has to take his clothes off and he can’t get Jess’ laugh out of his head. Instead of the original plan, the two share a night of awkward cuddling. He returns to his apartment, meeting Jess, who is ready to talk about the situation so things don’t get more awkward than she’s making it. As she tries to discuss the situation, she chases him to the elevator as he tries to run away, only making matters worse the four flights down. Schmidt, still disappointed, watches as Winston works hard to catch up, watching The King’s Speech and The Human Centipede at the same time.

Confronting the situation head-on, Nick finds out that Jess has a hard time saying the word “penis.” In one of the episode’s best scenes, Jess tries makes every attempt to not say the word, even using pig Latin and made-up languages to try to divert her awkwardness. Jess goes to her only girlfriend Cece to see what she should do. Cece says that Jess should show him hers; it’s the only way to make things even. Jess returns home, gets naked and wearing a towel, enters Nick’s room to wait till he returns. What she doesn’t expect is that he went on a second date with Amanda and brought her back to his place. As she tries to escape, Nick sees her as she runs out of the door, sans towel. Winston, meanwhile, has crashed from his pop culture crash course. Schmidt comes to the rescue, as the two of them go for a run. Winston soon realizes his life isn’t close to as terrible as Schmidt’s. Nick and Jess finally confront the situation; now that things are even, the two go back to normal, as Amanda is probably out of the picture for good now. The episode ends with a desperate Schmidt hiding in the shower as Nick comes in, still not seeing what he’s been trying to the whole episode through.

“Naked” is a nice way to flip the usual idea on its head. Jess’ inability to say “penis” and Schmidt’s desperation to see Nick’s penis were all pretty great and new. The show has several funny flashback moments, which have been toned down since the pilot but work as a way to see many of the cast’s younger selves. The biggest problems in “Naked” were the underusage of Lake Bell, who is a hilarious comedic actress, and the show’s continuing confusion as to what to do with Cece. Four episodes in, and she’s still nothing more than a few words of wisdom for Jess per episode. But besides those few minor gripes, New Girl’s take on an old sitcom premise added enough to what could have been a clichéd mess.