Let's ignore, for a moment, that the logistics of Nick's impromptu birthday surprise at the movie theater are pretty impossible and live in the fantasy, shall we? It was sweet and ridiculously romantic and set our already-unrealistic expectations for love even higher than most sitcoms. New Girl, when it's great, is a top-notch romantic comedy and "Birthday" was no exception. (Much like Season 2, it looks like Season 3 is picking up steam in the second half.) Sure, they've turned Jake Johnson's Nick Miller from a relatable slacker into a dreamboat boyfriend, while Zooey Deschanel's Jess has regressed to a cliché of herself. In fact, at one point in the episode she wishes she could be a cool girl in the movies "who wears men's shirts and sneakers," which sounds a whole lot like Deschanel's character in (500) Days of Summer. Still, if New Girl is destined to be a romantic comedy instead of an ensemble sitcom, it's doing a good job of it -- when the show is clicking, it is both very romantic and very funny. Here are the do's and don'ts of birthday surprises from "Birthday":
Do: Be Spontaneous With Your Surprises
I know, in theory, that this does not make sense. Successful surprise parties take weeks, if not months, of planning that has to be detailed and executed perfectly right down to the final minute. (I should know: I botched my best friend's birthday party over the weekend by getting her there about a half hour late.) While Nick had been doing some planning on the sly, he didn't realize he had to kill the time before the party. Panicked, he had a morning filled with terrible activities such as fast breakfast, fast sex, getting a diabetes test at the drug store, collecting rocks and accidentally crashing a little girl's birthday party in the park. But, in the end, none of that even mattered. When a crestfallen Jess -- who admits she sets sky-high expectations for her birthday-- took herself to the movies alone, Nick surprised her with the surprise he had all along: an impossibly sweet collection of interviews from Jess's friends and family (Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis, via satellite) and her students and guest stars (hello again, Angela Kinsey and Josh Gad and June Diane Raphael) and Outside Dave and Tran (according to Nick he said "a bunch, but it was really weird and racist") telling her all the things they love about her. Now, there's no way in hell Nick and all their friends -- who were sitting in the theater to surprise her -- could have arrived at the movies before her and made all these little details (there were notes under every single seat) happen, but it was a really nice moment. The only down side? Jess is pretty much going to be expecting something like this year every now, Nick. (Quick sidebar: did anyone else think Nick and Jess were going to drop the L bombs on each other here? Or is that being saved for finale time?).
Don't: Become a Bartender If You Have Zero Idea About How to Bartend
Cece could very well be the new Winston as New Girl has no idea what to do with her now that she's no longer a romantic interest for Schmidt. Instead, she's currently a terrible bartender at Nick's bar where she gets called out by her annoyed, gay coworker Mike (the hilarious Ben Falcone, who I wish was a series regular to sass the group mercilessly). Of course, Schmidt helps Cece out at her job and encourages her to keep plugging away because, as he points out, a lot of successful people didn't graduate high school: "Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Anne Frank… I'm gonna take back that last one." All of his support leads Cece to refer to Schmidt as her friend and, yeah, it's pretty much inevitable they are laying the ground work to eventually get these two back together. (I'm still rooting for you, Elizabeth!)
Do: Turn Two Feuding Cakes Into One Delicious, Harmonious Cake
Another week, another Winston and Coach feud. (I take it back, the show knows even less about what to do with Coach than they do Cece.) This time, the two were competitive about their duties for Jess's surprise party. Winston had cake (which he screwed up by picking up a very violent cake most certainly not intended for Jess) and Coach went way overboard on his decorations. They challenged each other to a moist (ew) cake bake-off and after some bickering and trying to hide Jess' party from her, Coach and Winston's two cakes became one and the friends/foes made a cake that looked like Jess. Yep, this was pretty much all these two had to do this week. It felt especially cruel towards Winston, considering how crappy his "surprise" birthday party on the roof was last season.
Don't: Give Your Girlfriend a Rubber Band You Found on the Ground as a Hair Tie
The sentiment is real sweet, but it's actual street garbage. Still, Nick forever gets a free pass for the movie theater stunt, and his admission that he kept the coin he had in his pocket from the first time he kissed Jess. I take it back, I'll wear your street treasures, Nick Miller. Be my boyfriend!
Do: Make Sure You Have a Shovel Buddy
Nick was convinced he was having a heart attack and regretted not having someone locked down to clear his Internet browsing history in case he dies. "I wasn't building a bomb, I was just curious!" Suuuure, Nick. Then how do you explain that mysterious, unreported bakery explosion downtown?! But seriously Nick, come on, always have a shovel buddy ready. Rookie mistake.
Don't: Bother Watching Any Movie That Doesn't Include Schmidt Running From Dinosaurs Or Calmly Walking Away From Exploding Cars
Because that is the coolest movie that ever was or ever will be.
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