Even before watching episode thirteen of New Girl, I had planned to write a blog post about this episode because I was expecting changes in color schemes to match Valentine’s Day as described in the title of the episode. While I was disappointed by the lack of festivity, there is still plenty to talk about regarding the visual design of the episode and the show as a whole.
New Girl continues to stay upbeat while keeping viewers up-to-date with the daily lives of the main characters. The color scheme of the show generally matches the tone with warm hues that are comfortable and cheery and is usually shot with quick cuts, often shifting camera angles in line with changes in speakers. For instance, there’s soft lighting and brown tones in the furniture and decorations when the camera is focused on Nick and his girlfriend Julia. During Schmidt’s and Jess’s conversation about their Valentine’s Day plans, the camera angle switches to focus on who is talking in the conversation. After the initial warm, earthy tones set in the shared apartment, the color scheme of the episode takes a darker turn to match the time of day and later, Schmidt’s dark mood at being forced to be the third wheel and driver for Jess’s one-night stand.
The darkness makes the abrupt transition to bright office lighting even more jarring as the episode transitions to focus on Nick and intern Cliff (and Julia, in between her phone calls with Ming). While the surroundings are now better lit, the mood doesn’t change much as the lighting lacks warmth and hominess. The only person somewhat enjoying Valentine’s Day in the group of four is Winston who has unwittingly joined Shelby and her girlfriends for a relaxing night in. While Winston is initially disgruntled, he fits in seamlessly with the girls, which the visual design of the episode demonstrates through cheerful, festive lighting and colorful reds. Before the cut to Oliver and Jess, the camera zooms in on Shelby’s face to show how impressed and touched she is with how well Winston has integrated with her girl group.
In this episode of New Girl, the color scheme and lighting match well with the plot of the show and the mood that the show is trying to convey. The visual design provides hints for the audience regarding when things are going well or poorly for the main characters and various experiences with romantic relationships during the evening of a day focused on romance and love. As almost always with New Girl, the episode ends optimistically, though with suspense, showing a scene of the morning after when Cece has hooked up with Schmidt while Jess had narrowly dodged that bullet (and awkwardness) the night before. The audience is left wondering what will happen next as it appears to be the calm before the storm.