Last night, I did my comically intense nighttime skincare routine while listening to Taylor Swift’s newly released album, Evermore. “‘Tis the Damn Season” played as I applied my eye cream. I drifted away from the task at hand (and face) as Taylor Swift sang about old loves in old hometown haunts. “I parkеd my car right between the Methodist and thе school that used to be ours,” she crooned.
I remembered this wasn’t the first time I had heard Swift banter with a former lover over Christian religion and their shared schoolhouse. This had already happened in New Girl. Seven years ago, in the season 2 finale of New Girl, Swift appeared in “Elaine’s Big Day” as the titular Elaine. It’s a wonderfully silly cameo… with extremely melancholy undertones.
Elaine’s story — which lives in perpetuity on New Girl’s streaming home of Netflix — would be right at home on Evermore.
Swift literally pops up in the final seven minutes of “Bg Day,” which aired on FOX in May 2013. At this point in the episode, the wedding of Cece Parekh (Hannah Simone) and Shivrang (Satya Bhabha) has imploded. The failed engagement of Evermore’s “Champagne Problems” nods in solidarity. Cece has finally admitted she does not want to marry Shivrang — she wants ex-boyfriend Schmidt (Max Greenfield), who destroyed her wedding “as a friend.” Moved by Cece’s honesty, Shivrang admits he too is in love with another. He wants to marry Elaine, whom we’ve never previously heard about, “in a Presbyterian church.” Remember what I said about Christianity?
Right on cue, Swift as Elaine shoots up from about five rows deep in the congregation. “Oh Shivy, I’ve loved you since the first grade,” she swoons. School reference, also completed. Elaine, we’re meant to assume, is Shivrang’s childhood crush. Their relationship, it seems, grew into an on-again, off-again romance that ended so Shivrang could marry someone his parents would like. A surprise tortured love story, decades in the making and bubbling in the background of New Girl, turns on a dime in front of an entire wedding party’s eyes.
But, there’s more to Elaine’s very Evermore vibes than a few similar lines. When you look at Cece and Shivrag’s wedding through Elaine’s eyes, you realize this is a tale of love, hope, and forgiveness, which are major themes throughout Swift’s new album. Elaine is a woman who went to the wedding of the person she has always loved, totally solo (“My pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand. Taking mine, but it's been promised to another,” as Swift sings in “Ivy”). She is still praying this past love will remember her, like the opening lines of “Dorthea:” “Hey, Dorothea, do you ever stop and think about me? When we were younger down in the park … And I got nothing but well-wishes for ya.”
It’s clear that Elaine wasn’t going to ruin Shivrag’s big day if he didn’t turn to her during the ceremony. She would quietly accept this fate and maybe even go to the wedding reception. Each Evermore narrator has the same attitude of thoughtful tolerance for even the most painful of betrayals and disappointments.
Elaine even experiences the cinematic extremes of “No Body, No Crime,” in a much funnier manner. Rather than falling into a murderous rage in the three-act aftermath of her husband’s infidelity — like the narrator of “Crime” — Elaine gets the positive version of relationship chaos. She goes to her ex’s wedding, seething with contained jealousy from the sidelines, only for him to pick her in the end. “Will you take me away from this madness?” Elaine screams in an obvious 2013 reference to the romantic intensity of Swift’s lyrics. Shivrag joyously does as Elaine asks, announcing that he wants their future children to enjoy lives filled with passion projects and backpacking trips.
“Let’s go to Vegas and elope!” Elaine yells as Shivrag carries her out of the wedding. Elaine doesn’t care if Shivrang’s mom thinks she’s too tall for him — and neither does he. Years of pain really didn’t have to be for evermore.