“Jess brought me a hot lunch lady. What am I supposed to do with that?” Winston Bishop (Lamore Morris) complains about eight minutes into New Girl season 4’s “Thanksgiving IV,” aka the "Bangsgiving" episode. “Do sex to the lunch lady,” Nick Miller (Jake Johnson) mumbles. The rest of the New Girl gang snarkily agrees in chorus (“After she has sex with you, she can put food in your mouth”).
The first time “Thanksgiving IV” aired, way back in November 2014, the conversation felt like a bit of classic, sexed-up New Girl banter. Now, as the CDC urges Americans not to gather with people outside of their household, hang out in large groups, or travel for Thanksgiving in the midst of the ever-worsening COVID-19 pandemic, “Thanksgiving IV” means so much more — particularly to the frustratedly single amongst us. In 2020, Bangsgiving is a gosh darn horny dream.
The premise of “Thanksgiving IV” — New Girl’s fourth Thanksgiving installment out of five — is simple. Nick and Jessica Day (Zooey Deschanel) are only a few months past their first break up. Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Cece Parekh (Hannah Simone) are allegedly over their on-again, off-again relationship. Winston and Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) are, as usual at this point in New Girl, painfully single. Recognizing that cuffing season is nigh, Schmidt is determined to secure “sexual realization” for himself and his roommates/ex-girlfriend as the year ticks to a close. Bangsgiving is born, requiring each loft pal to find a Thanksgiving dinner date for their friend. Assignments are picked out of a gigantic Pilgrim hat for seasonal flair.
“And no date leaves until everyone is laid,” Schmidt announces. Eventually he will call the event a “sex party.”
While multiple people point out the “kidnappy” undertone of Schmidt’s scheme, we all get the gist: This holiday is equally dedicated to severing up mashed potatoes as it is handing out orgasms with attractive semi-strangers. Over the course of “Thanksgiving IV,” Jess will attempt to seduce her crush Ryan (Julian Morris) with a nearly nude apron dance, and one couple’s competitive arm wrestling battle will turn into a very heartwarming makeout session.
For those of us following CDC guidelines and sheltering at home as much as humanly possible, such a series of events sounds like an impossibility. Especially for me, a Los Angeleno who hasn’t gone on a date since February and is watching lockdown rules roll out in New Girl’s home city in real time. In “Thanksgiving IV,” the New Girl gang is consistently hanging out with one non-household member — remember, Cece actually lives with a handful of uncontrollable models — and inviting a whopping six more people to join them for a meal in an enclosed space. The aim of this 12-person gathering is a lot of close-face breathing, at minimum. In 2014, this was a frisky lark. In 2020, it’s an idea that would make Dr. Anthony Fauci pull his hair out.
But, Bangsgiving works out for all involved in New Girl world. Jessica eventually falls into bed with Ryan, her school employee, after they declare their feelings for each other (workplace legal culture also isn't a pressing concern in New Girl). Cece rushes her date Geoff (Adam Huber) out of the party so she can continue spending solo time with Schmidt, subtly rekindling their flirty connection. By the end of the season, Cece and Schmidt are engaged. Winston even does sex to the lunch lady.
It’s these easily contained, ultimately happy narratives that make New Girl such a charming binge during the increasingly chilly shelter-at-home period. You might be jealous of the cast for spending hours in their home mingling with hot strangers mask-free, but it’s also an endearing and recognizable way of life. These aren’t people gallivanting around Paris in unwearable bucket hats or battling the ghosts of centuries-old tragedies. The heroes of New Girl are a bunch of lovable Silly Billies — to quote Winston — whose greatest goal in life is to get “a nice fella,” or lady, into bed before the calendar turns to December.
I might not be able to right now — but I’m thankful the New Girl crew will in perpetuity.