Episode 13: A Father's Love
By: Carlos Uribe
New Girl is a show about Jess and her three best friends (Winston, Nick, and Schmidt)
Parents can be tricky for any television comedy. A person's upbringing often help define who they are. Nick's anger towards society and his fear of change are two fundamental qualities rooted in the very being of his character. This is an episode that tries to explain the former through Nick's dad. Who is Nick's dad? If you ask Winston, he's just a businessman. If you ask anyone else, they'll say that he's con-man. The latter turns out to be true as his dad shows up in town one day in order to run a con. He manages to get Jess to “invest” some money with him because Jess is extremely gullible. One of the best gags of the episode is when Nick gets Jess to believe his name is actually something else. The father promises to give Jess back her money with interest once he goes through a deal to sell a horse's semen to a group of people. This deal completely falls apart when Nick's tendency to sweat around lies (probably an outcome from his father) gives the con away. The father is angry but Nick points out that this isn't his fault. Nick didn't ask his dad to come and he points out that a lot of his flaws exist because his father didn't do his job properly. Nick's dad is forced to admit this but old habits die hard when he skips out on a promise. It should come as no surprise that Nick's dad isn't able to be a father because it's not in his nature. This also doesn't surprise Nick because he doesn't believe that people can actually change.
It's a bit sad that Nick seems to honestly believe that broken people can be fixed. Nick is a cynic but it's likely that he's simply had his dreams of having an ideal father figure constantly crushed. There is a part of the episode where Nick tries to explain his anger towards his father because he was inconsistent. He never knew what to expect from his dad because of his personality. Nick was complaining to the wrong person because Winston points out he wished his father was a little more inconsistent. Winston points out that he didn't have a father. This is noteworthy to point out because it seems like Winston likes Nick's father because he might have substituted him for his biological father. Winston therefore saw Nick's dad as his own. That's why he constantly refers to him as he would his own dad. This helped to explain why Winston wasn't willing to admit that Nick's dad was a con-man or why he didn't seem too bothered with the debt that he's owed. Not only does Nick's father help to show what helped mold Nick but also Winston.
Schmidt has proclaimed his love for Cece only to be turned down when she doesn't think he's ready to have a child with her. She is looking for a serious commitment and has turned to her parents to arrange a marriage. Schmidt isn't happy with this so he decides to spy on her. To his surprise, he discovers that Robby hasn't gotten over Cece. The two decide to pair up to try and get her to take back Robby. Schmidt's plan is to then crush Robby so that Cece will be all his. This is a plot that really manages to work for three reasons. The first is that Robby is a great character and his interactions with Schmidt are priceless. The second is that it's a sub-plot that has a strong core built around it. Schmidt and Cece were a great couple together and it's this relationship that helps drive Schmidt towards winning her back. The third, and most crucial, is that it tests the audience sympathy for Schmidt. On one hand, he's the main character in this situation and we're supposed to be rooting for him to get back his ex-girlfriend. On the other hand, his treatment of Robby really makes him rather unlikeable. It wouldn't surprise me if some viewers decide to be Team Robby instead simply because he's that nice of a guy. This would seem counter-intuitive to the sub-plot but complicating it only makes it more compelling and oddly even funnier.
A Father's Love is a funny episode of New Girl that works really well for two reasons. The first has to do with Nick's dad who explained a source of Nick's anger and helped to reveal how significant he was in Winston's life. The second has to do with how Schmidt is trying to win over Cece but in doing so he is testing the audience's loyalty with him by constantly going after nice guy Robby. Overall, a pretty successful week for the show.
I'd say my favorite part of the episode is young Winston's amazement at the number of hats that Nick's dad brings.