Jess Day (Zooey Deschanel) is crushed to catch her boyfriend cheating on her, and promptly sets out to find a new place to live in the series premiere. She meets three single guys who have an open room in their loft, and tries to convince them that she's the new roommate they're looking for.
The guys are invited to a wedding, and Nick is fearful that he'll run into his ex (Mary Elizabeth Ellis), so he asks Jess to be his date. Meanwhile, Winston takes his role as usher very seriously, and Schmidt catches the eye of two women (Katie Cassidy, Natasha Lyonne).
Nick lands a date with an attractive coworker (Lake Bell), but then Jess accidentally walks in on him naked and her laughter makes his self-confidence plummet to an all-time low. Meanwhile, Winston studies up on pop-culture references.
Jess gets jealous of Winston when he joins her youth handbell quartet and steals the spotlight with his natural talent. Meanwhile, the toilet at the loft breaks, and Nick and Schmidt have different ideas on how to fix it.
Jess seeks sex advice from the guys after deciding to take her relationship with Paul to the next level; Schmidt weasels his way into his boss's baby shower to compete with his office female counterpart.
Jess goes against Nick's wishes when she makes it her mission to befriend the loft's landlord, who's notoriously cranky. In doing so, Jess inadvertently jeopardizes their living situation. Meanwhile, Schmidt is convinced that his boss is sending him mixed signals.
Schmidt agrees to be Jess' wingman when she sets out to have a one-night stand on Valentine's Day. Elsewhere, Nick's romantic plans for the holiday are foiled when he finds himself spending more time with Julia's male assistant than with her.
Nick hurts his back while playing touch football, but he doesn't have health insurance, so Jess brings him to her doctor friend, an OB/GYN. Later, Nick reevaluates his life after learning the seemingly innocuous injury may be more serious than initially thought.
Part 1 of 2. Jess is asked out by the wealthy and handsome father of one of her students. Meanwhile, Schmidt and Winston get ultracompetitive over bar trivia, and Nick sets out to buy a new cell phone.
Conclusion. Jess' first date with Russell doesn't go as planned; Nick's old college pal visits and invokes Nick's inner frat boy; Winston panics when Shelby takes off on a girls' getaway; Schmidt and Cece's secret relationship is found out by one of the roommates.
A nervous Jess invites Russell to spend a weekend at the loft, and he ends up getting along a little too well with the guys. Meanwhile, Winston starts working for a radio shock jock and meets basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (as himself); and Nick works on an invention from his Idea Notebook.
Unwilling to admit her true feelings for Schmidt, Cece encourages him to go on a date with one of her beautiful roommates. Meanwhile, Jess wishes she and Russell shared the same fiery passion he exhibits with his ex-wife; and a morose Nick channels all of his energy into his new vegetable garden.
Nick and Jess run into their exes Caroline and Paul; Schmidt deals with a delicate medical issue; Winston has a wild night out with his boss and suffers the consequences; Cece introduces Schmidt to her grandmother.
One of the roommates decides to move out of the loft in the Season 1 finale. Meanwhile, Winston faces his fear of the dark when the gang makes an unexpected trip to the desert; Schmidt and Cece's relationship reaches a turning point.