The Box or Just Plain Card-Bored? New Girl’s “The Box” Review
By Nicole Bozzani
The Box containing everything in life Nick Miller has ever tried to avoid sits on the floor of his closet. It holds mostly unpaid parking tickets, a corporation he started, and the newest edition: an 8,000 dollar inheritance from his late father. Everyone has a different opinion on what Nick should do with his money. Responsible Jess wants him to pay his debt and put it in the bank, Winston just wants his $1,900 dollars returned to him, and Schmidt suggests giving it away to charity but purely out of selfishness and the need to feel like he’s a good person. While Nick ponders what do with his new fortune, Jess and Winston scheme to put their plans for the money into action, and Schmidt is out to prove he’s not a horrid person. This week brought a lot of self reflection to apartment 4D and, with it, a whole lot of predictable problems.
When the inheritance is shadily dropped off at their door, the gang, who don’t inquire very much about it, head to the mall where Nick goes on a spending spree. Now, if a shady man in a leather jacket drops off $8,000 in a paper sack at one’s door and runs away, one’s first thought isn’t normally “take some glamour shots at the mall,” but to Nick Miller, that’s all he’s ever wanted. Once he reveals his box of avoidance to Jess she seems more than disappointed. Up to this point, we’ve gotten to know a new more confident more adult version of Nick Miller, but he slides at this moment revealing more about his responsibility level to both Jess and the viewer. Season three began with a honeymoon phase in Nick and Jess’ relationship, but it’s about to hit a snag.
Nick has been coming into adulthood in his own way, and now he takes a stand against Jess trying to change him. He’s tired of it and rightfully so. Nick has always been a blubbering lovable idiot. Of course he doesn’t pay taxes because he doesn’t want to, and he’s never had jury duty, so it’s hard to understand what Jess was expecting in this relationship. Why Nick would keep his collection of things to avoid in a box rather than just throwing them away to avoid them forever and ever is questionable. It’s refreshing to see the couple hit a snag, but in typical sitcom fashion, everything seems to work itself out. In this case, Nick decides to put his money in the bank because he would “do anything for” Jess. Everyone knows the first milestone of any relationship is opening a bank account when one’s significant other tells them how irresponsible they are while simultaneously trying to change them at the same time. It can be argued he is simply trying to show Jess he can be something greater than what he is, but surely that can be done another way?
The real meat and potatoes of issues with “The Box” comes in its typical sitcom hijinks. Of course Jess is going to pay his bills behind his back until he finds out, gets upset, and suddenly the cheesy “but I like ya!” type conversation happens. One slightly underrated moment was how she organized and color coded his bills. A moment that shines light on how different they really are. Nick stands up for himself and goes through her belongings. And frankly, the discovery of her unnecessary “night peanuts” is rather disturbing. The main issue here is not their different levels of responsibility or even her attempt to change him, but rather their life together as a couple. It’s been a long time coming, but has become almost a mockery. Leaving the bank, Jess is screaming about how much she loves Nick like a kid in a high school play. That’s truly unfortunate for Zooey, who is just wonderful as Jess week after week. At times their relationship is both boring and predictable. Viewers get it. They are dating. They have sex. They really like each other. Does there really, really have to be a dialogue week after week about how much they like each other?
Meanwhile, Schmidt is attempting to prove to the world he’s not a two-timing terrible human being. He turns to a rabbi for help and when that fails he saves a biker who has crashed and is choking on gum. Of course for Schmidt, saving a man and trying to con your drunk best friend into giving his money to charity, constitutes being a good person. This dares to ask the philosophical question: is Schmidt really a good person? A question no one has dared to ask before since it’s fairly obvious to anyone within the sound of his voice that he loves himself far more than he could love anyone. If there’s one positive to come out of this quest for self acceptance it’s the long unnecessary filler scene of Schmidt going on a business casual run to nowhere. In the end, it’s Winston, apartment 4D voice of reason, who leads Schmidt in the right direction with a candelabra. Who knew they sold those still or that one would pay 1,900 dollars for one? Schmidt doesn’t have to be great or even good. He just has to try better, and if there’s one thing to take away from “The Box,” it’s definitely that.
Overall the episode showcased some growth for the characters of New Girl. Nick finally has a bank account, Schmidt realizes he needs to grow, Jess owns too many vintage purses, and Winston still wishes for genies in lamps. With this growth came some problems. Viewers are consistently reminded Nick and Jess are an item in a way similar to a couple over exaggerating their love just before announcing their breakup at a dinner party, and there are some predictable hijinks that have become hit or miss in the humor department. Will Nick and Jess finally start to act like a regular couple? Where the heck is Ferguson? What will happen next week for Halloween? Only time will tell, but until then there’s two things viewers can take away from “The Box.” “Banks are just paper bags with fancier walls,” and “Money is just something the king on the mountain said was worth something.”