With American Thanksgiving quickly approaching, families in the U.S. are gathering to bask in turkey and stuffing, while swallowing any resentment they might have for one another. On "New Girl," Jessica Day's (Zooey Deschanel) family is no different, and on tonight's episode, fans will finally get to meet her parents.
Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner guest star as Jess' long-divorced mom and dad, who dislike each other so much that they're physically incapable of sharing a meal. However, that doesn't stop Jess, who plans to use Thanksgiving as a way to get her parents back together, in what Nick (Jake Johnson) describes as "an homage to 'Parent Trap.'"
Watch a preview of Curtis and Reiner on "New Girl":
Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner's appearances mark the first big "guest star" event on "New Girl" -- minus actors like Lizzie Caplan (who played Nick's girlfriend), Justin Long (who played Jess boyfriend), and Olivia Munn, who's set to play Nick's latest love interest later this season. However, in those cases, the actors filled a specific role that appealed to "New Girl's" audience, and a demographic already familiar to them. Curtis and Reiner, on the other hand, are Hollywood legends who can draw audiences in on their own merit. (At least in terms of "Halloween" fans, or anyone who's watched TV or movies from the 1970s and beyond.)
How many guest stars is too many? Unless you're "The Simpsons," relying on cameos to keep a story afloat can arguably make the show's plot line seem weak. However, as proven by "Park's and Recreation's" recent Joe Biden appearance, when a cameo not only makes sense (Leslie Knope loves Biden, and she and Ben were in Washington), and is kept removed from the storyline, it can attest to a series' strength. Case in point: "Parks and Recreation" has featured both Biden and John McCain this season, but the show's regular cast keeps the season moving, and didn't rely on either man to propel the plot.
Then you have shows like beloved '90s sitcom "Will & Grace," which became defined by its stunt casting thanks to turns by Jennifer Lopez, Jason Biggs, Matt Damon, Janet Jackson, Sharon Stone, Ellen DeGeneres, and Alec Baldwin (among many, many others -- seriously, we didn't even list half of them) as the seasons progressed. "Glee" is another, as actors like Gwyneth Paltrow, Gloria Estefan, Britney Spears, Ricky Martin, Kate Hudson, and seemingly endless others make guest appearances in efforts to maintain viewer attention, but ultimately, their participation only unnecessarily adds to the complication of lead characters' lives.
In the case of "New Girl," Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner make sense. Thanksgiving is for family, families tend to have backstories, and fans are entitled to meeting Jess' parents. The only thing better would be for Jamie Lee Curtis to reveal herself as a teenage Lindsay Lohan ala "Freaky Friday." That, or Rob Reiner introduces us to his new wife, Gloria Bunker.