New Girl is made for Christmas, always full of love, cheer, doe-eyes, and even some childlike wonder. The sitcom is biting at times but even then it retains its gooey sensibility by never forgetting what this series is really about: a group of romantically-challenged screw-ups who love each other fiercely, no matter what. They’re always going to go out of their way to encourage each other and while the episodes that focus on that might not be the funniest the series will ever put out, they’re still always great.
In this season’s Christmas episode, “LAXmas,” everyone is gearing up to fly somewhere for the holidays: Schmidt and Cece are going to New York (Long Island and Manhattan, respectively), Jess has agreed to spend Christmas in London with Ryan and his family, Schmidt and Winston are headed to Chicago because there’s a bar there where Winston can always get laid, and Coach is having a solo vacation in Hawaii (but dealing with some guilt about ditching his family, especially his adorable niece, in Detroit). An episode with the gang split in all of these various locations wouldn’t be very New Girl, especially for a Christmas episode, so instead the episode has them all stranded at LAX.
The groups do split up a bit in the airport. True to his character, Schmidt immediately gravitates toward the first class lounge and tries to impress Cece. While there, he’s approached by an obnoxious, rich, and pretentious dude (Barry Bostwick, perfect casting) who tries to bargain with Schmidt: his gold select card which would get Schmidt access to any first class lounge in any airport (except New Zealand) in exchange for Cece. Schmidt obviously declines and does so in a spectacularly hilarious fashion by repeatedly representing/yelling about his Long Island roots (“516!” “Billy Joel!” “Nassau County!”) in the least threatening way possible. It’s cute but there’s still heartbreak later on when Cece tells him that she loves being his friend. But it’s still an irresistible storyline, especially because Schmidt doesn’t brag about his chivalry to Cece even though he knows it could be a good way to win her over. It’s something that he did because it was right, because he respects her, and because he’s in love with her, and Cece knowing about his actions doesn’t change any of that.
As for Winston and Nick, they get bumped to the standby line, leading Jess to go deal with a super bitchy airline worker played by Billy Eichner. Eichner fortunately tunes down his usual loud persona (which is very funny, but works better in his own show than his guest spots on other sitcoms) but doesn’t tune down his rapid-fire pop culture remarks (when Jess tells him it’s Christmas, he quickly replies “Oh, I didn’t know that. I thought they just did a black version of Annie for no reason”). It’s a testament to Jess’ inherent personality and her uncharacteristic despair in the airport that the two end up becoming friends and bonding in the airport bar later on; he even ends up offering to fly her anywhere but she, instead, uses that to help out Winston and Nick.
The main storyline here is, as always, Jess. While at the airport, Ryan texts her a picture of his London house which is really a giant castle and she realizes that Ryan’s rich. This leads to her insecurity creeping up as she worries that she’s not good enough for him and his family. It’s ridiculous — Jess can charm the pants off anyone — but it’s enough to have her tell Ryan that her flight is canceled and decide to go home and spend Christmas alone. Nick won’t let her have that, though, and he and Winston get off the plane (first class and all!) to run and convince Jess to go.
It’s a nice New Girl reversal on typical romantic-comedy Christmas films. No one dashes to the airport to stop someone from getting on a plane because they’re in love but rather a group of friends (Nick also grabs the rest of the gang) rush out of the airport to convince someone to get on a plane because of pure, platonic love. It’s a beautiful moment that will melt even the coldest of hearts this winter. But, in another New Girl reversal, Jess gets to London only to learn that Ryan got her message and flew back to her loft to meet her. Ah, they’ll never get it together.