New Girl Review: “Par 5”

(Episode 4.20)

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<i>New Girl</i> Review: &#8220;Par 5&#8221;

Fawn Moscato, City Council has been sort of been floating on the outskirts of the gang ever since she started dating Schmidt. Zoe Lister-Jones is always delightful in her performance as the opportunistic, uncouth political climber, so the fact that she is such a major part of the events of “Par 5” is a good thing, and it was a reason for positivity and excitement. Unfortunately, the episode was not quite able to live up to that potential, unable to figure out a satisfactory story to include her in, and also giving us a “B” in which Winston is not crazy, which is not necessarily the best use of him. It is interesting that Lamorne Morris, who plays Winston, is the co-writer of this episode. Perhaps he has different ideas for where Winston should go as a character.

After a delightfully weird dinner at the loft, featuring some delightful passive aggression between Fawn and Cece and some general goofiness, the events of the episode begin to unfold. Fawn is going to a networking ladies golf event. Jess invites herself so she can try and get some new computers for her school. Of course, the shark-like nature of Fawn runs opposite of the general, naïve optimism of Jess, so naturally Jess is about as successful a networker as she is a golfer. That is to say, she’s terrible, and all the visor jokes in the world can’t save her.

That is, until Fawn takes her under her wing. However, since this is New Girl and not New City Councilwoman, Jess is eventually turned off by Fawn’s ruthlessness, and decides to be more honest, and that honesty pays off. Oh, and then Fawn, seizing a political opportunity, joins Jess on the green for a photo op, and then she bends over—and oh yeah, she isn’t wearing underwear because the show [clunkily] drops the fact that this is a thing she does when networking… and then it “pays off” in the most obvious and lazy way imaginable.

To be fair, this political nightmare leaves Fawn a pariah, and leaves her vulnerable, so much so that she tells Schmidt he is free to leave her. Up to this point, Fawn had been treating him poorly and asking him to do things like bronze his skin and shave his teeth down. Cece had convinced Schmidt to tell Fawn off, even if the makeup makes him look like a doll man, but now he’s not going to leave her because she is sad. This just serves to extend the Schmidt and Fawn relationship in regards to the Schmidt and Cece will they/won’t they stuff. So, when all is said and done, this makes Fawn’s downfall even worse. It all feels too convenient, and too facile, to really be worthwhile. Fawn is a lot of fun. Now imagine if they give her something worthwhile to do.

Meanwhile, Winston meets a lady and then finds out she is going to a police protest, and since he’s a cop, complications ensue. Thus, he tells her that he’s a male stripper, not a cop, and that just makes things even more complicated. This leads to Winston giving some serious thought about race and the relationship between black people and the police. This, in a vacuum, is fine, as there is nothing saying that sitcoms can’t take a moment or two to discuss more substantive matters. However, this is New Girl, and this is Winston, and the person he is talking to is Nick. As such, it feels sort of clunky—like the show felt the need to do this, but didn’t know how to handle it. Even Nick’s bad Eddie Murphy, Coach’s good Eddie Murphy, and Winston’s passable Jerry Seinfeld can’t save it, even if Winston’s Seinfeld makes a good point about there being no banana juice. Well, it’s not a great point, because bananas don’t have a ton of juice in them, but that’s a digression.

The episode ends with Winston admitting to the lady that he is a cop, not a stripper, and she sort of seems OK with it, but then asks him to strip as penance, which he’s cool with, because he’s back to being wacky ol’ Winston. So, it seems that maybe another romantic possibility is on the show? Well, Nick and Jess have lost their love interests from earlier this season, and that lady Coach is seeing isn’t around much, so maybe this is OK. It’d be nice if there was a single interesting thing about her, though. In this episode, she’s just somebody to make Winston feel feelings about stuff.

If you were to just describe the plotting of this episode, “Par 5” would seem pretty mediocre. In truth, a lot of it is. It is an episode of television with problems. The storylines aren’t engaging, and they payoffs are poor. However, New Girl remains a show that knows how to write jokes, with a cast who knows how to deliver them. Schmidt and Fawn both have a great episode, and Jess has some solid stuff as well, which makes up for the fact everything else is largely a dud. There are two episodes left this season. Hopefully the show will pick it up for the stretch run.

Chris Morgan is an Internet gadabout who writes on a variety of topics and in a variety of mediums. If he had to select one thing to promote, however, it would be his ’90s blog/podcast, Existential Parachute Pants. (You can also follow him on Twitter.)