"Elaine's Big Day" wasn't the best episode of New Girl Season 2, but it was an appropriate note to end the year on: this is now a fully realized, confident, and consistently hilarious show that knows exactly what it is.
It stands in stark contrast to New Girl Season 1's season finale, which explored similar issues (choosing the right mate, making enormous life decisions, Nick's near-bottomless inner well of self-loathing) in a profoundly less satisfying way (coyote mind-meld? Really, Season 1 Jess??).
What a difference a year makes, huh? New Girl Season 2 has finally figured out what its real strengths and weaknesses are, and I feel the kind of zeal for this show that only a convert can truly have.
So, it was only fitting that a season marked by the visionary marriage of over-the-top physical comedy and mundanely relatable romantic issues conclude with both Jess and Nick trying to over-think their way out of their relationship AND a wild badger running loose at a wedding. Hey, we're modern women! We can have it all! Lean in (to badger jokes)!
Speaking of Jess and Nick: nothing shows the distance that this show has come better than their relationship. While New Girl Season 1 probably would have accepted their attempted break-up and shuffled off, New Girl Season 2 treated it at the fearful but ultimately harmless nonsense (and source of great New Girl quotes) that it was.
Taylor Swift as the titular Elaine was an inspired piece of stunt casting, as her character (and the entire episode) calls back to that whole "tortured lovelorn ex-girlfriend" thing that's kind of her thing. Was she particularly, you know, good at acting? Ah, not quite. But her presence as Shivrang's ex was a thousand times funnier than anything she could have said.
A lot of our greatest television comedies took a while to find their footing (and if you don't believe me, please, go re-watch the first season of Seinfeld). But in today's brutal TV ratings market, shows are rarely given that kind of time to develop and mature--if they're not killer straight out of the gate, they go the way of the dodo.
I'm thankful that New Girl was given that rare chance. New Girl Season 1, with its random jumps in logic and indulgent acceptance of Jess's weird behavior, sometimes seemed like it was actually written by Jess and Nick themselves ( a 29-year-old woman who can't say "penis" isn't cute, it is insane!). New Girl Season 2, like its characters, has shaped up, brushed itself off, and kind of learned to deal with adult life--and is so much the better for it.
Who do you think Schmidt will choose? Will Nick and Jess last? How many weddings have you, personally, ruined via badger?