Zooey Deschanel (Your Highness)
Jake Johnson (Jurassic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Lamorne Morris (Black Rapunzel)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)
CHRISTAMS EVE EVE
Megan Fox (Transformers)
Nelson Franklin (Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich)
However often “Christmas Eve Eve” reminds us of the old gift-giving truism, it’s not just the thought that counts. It’s also the effort and attention to detail that accompany the thought. This year, New Girl presents us with a sweet, silly Christmas episode, full of affection and the implicit knowledge of its characters that is key to the show’s appeal, but it’s wrapped up in a package as clumsy as a gift from Nick Miller, with his “caveman wrapping skills.”
When her roommates try to talk her out of celebrating Christmas this year, Jessica Day, that immovable object of merrymaking, puts her foot down. “Christmas is not cancelled!” she insists. “Christmas gifts are how you show the people you love that you care in a very special, magical, and highly mandatory way.” Her proposed compromise of a Secret Santa gift exchange is intended to lower the stakes (and the stress) of the holiday. Instead, it raises them. Each Secret Santa gift has to be extra-special because it’s the only gift each of them will get this Christmas.
Christmas Eve Eve cleverly plays out different kinds of gift-giving anxieties and the emotional realities that underlie them. Some are simple mishaps, like Jess buying Nick a gift so perfect, he ends up buying it for himself just before the gift exchange, or Schmidt refusing Winston’s package delivery just because it’s addressed to retired Rear Admiral J. Garagareaux.
Some tensions run deeper. Schmidt is certain Winston’s gift will leave ”my Cece” disappointed; Winston gently but firmly insists that his friendship with Schmidt’s wife (“I like to think of her as our Cece”) has its own in-jokes and touchstones. Winston, who knows how to make a thought count, fashions a makeshift bean bag chair from the blandly inoffensive blanket Schmidt snatches at random from a store shelf, and the way Cece’s face lights up proves Winston right. The gift is a private joke referencing a classic Cece-and-Winston mess-around. She loves it and what it says about their friendship.
Jess’s reminder that each present is a tangible expression of love pays off as each unwrapping uncovers another moment of shared history. Schmidt sees that his friends treasure his wife as dearly as he does, and a little more weirdly. Nick’s gift proves that sometimes, the thought that counts is the image an item conjures up for the recipient. As pleased as Schmidt is with his luxurious new socks, it’s the idea of Nick “mispronouncing ‘cashmere’ in a store” that fills him with joy. In this episode, the thought behind each gift is revealing, and not always in the way the giver intends. Jess’ decision to bring Nick and Reagan together for the holiday is commendable, even self-sacrificing, but it isn’t her first impulse. She only cobbles together the plan to fly Reagan in after Nick buys himself the “cool” sunglasses she’d picked out for him. Then there’s the heartbreaking reveal that Jess’ name was left out of the Secret Santa drawing. After her frantic orchestrations and her exhortations to see each present as an expression of love, she’s left with a second-hand gift, one with no shared joke or spark of joy. It’s a nice touch that Jess’ exclusion is her own doing, not a sign of a friend’s thoughtlessness.
Their touching solution recreates and amplifies Jess’ reminiscences of her childhood Christmases. But like the set-up that artificially excludes every relationship outside the loft, this over-the-top ending doesn’t quite ring true. Nick waking Jess with a cup of cocoa, Furguson appearing with felt antlers just as Jess’ dog Frank used to, Jess turning to see “snow” falling outside her window: These moments feel magical and dreamlike, but they fit into the scale of the New Girl universe. Christmas Eve Eve doesn’t sidestep the dreamlike improbability, but escalates it with a city street filled with lights and fake snow, a pre-dawn robed choir, a Motown great appearing to sing and celebrate with these friends. All the elements of this Christmas surprise can be explained individually: Winston arranging the cruisers, Robby’s recently revealed music-industry connections. Even the confetti is set up with a shot of Nick at a shredder. It’s festive and fun and it all falls within the strictest limits of possibility.
A fun festive episode for the holidays and one to watch over Christmas.