A great episode of New Girl only needs two things, in my opinion. The first is for the humor to be as ridiculous as New Girl has proven it can be. “Menzies” has Nick getting a water massage from a silent old man, Jess crying over a dog in a teacup and Winston believing he has PMS. So check on that count. But even harder is the second, making these outlandish comedic moments seem integral to the plot, and not only that, but further each of its characters’ stories. While “Menzies” is overwhelmingly hilarious, it’s also a fantastic look at how to do both these prerequisites and do them in a brilliant way, without ever drawing attention to the fact that these characters are changing while you’re laughing.
There’s also a greatness to how “Menzies” not only defies expectations, but also is able to give all five of its leads (even Cece and Winston!) equally fascinating storylines. Any other show that confronts a PMS storyline has the fear that it will tread into old jokes and tired stereotypes, but of course New Girl handles these with intelligence and humor. It doesn’t hurt that Winston believes he has sympathy PMS.
First off, Jess is still jobless, using her PMS as an excuse to not update her resume and try. Schmidt pushes her by saying that he refuses to pay the gas bill unless Jess can contribute. Schmidt is also dealing with a new boss at work, played by Carla Gugino, who wants a depraved sexual relationship with him that includes signing a contract with her—one that is so weird, it guarantees mercury poisoning. While at dinner with Cece and Robby, Schmidt watches as Robby says that Cece is the nicest girl, which neither Cece or Schmidt possibly believe. Since Nick is frustrated with Jess using PMS as an excuse, he goes for a walk and meets a quiet old Asian man and confides in him, returning to the apartment a new Nick, open and stress-free.
If there’s one thing this season has been about, it’s each of these characters finding their identities and figuring out who they really are. After Cece and Schmidt share a kiss, Cece realizes that she is actually a nice person, while Schmidt realizes he is so messed up, he must be bad. Winston’s bout with PMS turns out to be him missing Shelby, and Nick tries to give Winston and Jess the water therapy the old man gave him that turned his life around. Jess finally gets a real job (thankfully, because I didn’t want to see Elf Jess around Christmastime), teaching creative writing to adults.
But what makes “Menzies” a great episode of New Girl is its ability to mask character development in genuinely funny moments for these characters that seem natural to their situations. Even when the show borders on too quirky, as it does when Nick, Schmidt and Jess literally jump around to House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” it is quickly undercut by Winston crying in his bed at the realization that he’s just mourning his recent breakup.
A show like New Girl needs to find that balance of quirkiness and seriousness, and “Menzies” finds it.
There’s so much story going on and information presented and it’s handled in a much greater way than past episodes with great development have. New Girl mixes the great humor with five intriguing character stories, creating a balancing act that is exciting to see New Girl pull off.