The more I watch New Girl, the more I come to the conclusion that it might be one of the best—if not THE best—sitcoms on television. Most sitcoms about a group of friends can be funny, having little stories for the entire group to play around with, and sure, that can be an amusing episode of television. Shows like Happy Endings, Community and Parks and Recreation, just to name a few, can have great half-hours of comedy without really advancing the stories. Even How I Met Your Mother, in which every episode should be part of a larger narrative hinted at in the title, fails to do this more than it should.
But on New Girl, the show has combined the typical sitcom ensemble idea of a group of friends hanging out and having fun with elements that do continually move the story forward and constantly change the relationship dynamics between its main five characters. These characters can go on their adventures and various tangents, but New Girl has figured out how to have each episode’s final moments become a remarkable catharsis or change, even when you don’t realize the episode needs it.
One of the best examples of this is “Virgins,” which on paper sounds like nothing more than a flashback episode. New Girl has always had fun playing around with the pasts of these characters, especially Fat Schmidt, so seeing the moments when these characters lost their virginity is a perfect way for New Girl to relish in that.
Jess is on her way to meet Teddy, the man who, as Nick puts it, stole Jess’ flower from her wonderful secret garden, and Schmidt is continuing to see his first girlfriend, Elizabeth. This leads all five of them to talk about their first times. Jess’ first time is a series of misdirections, almost happening on her prom night, then continuing several years later and ending with her trapped in a mini-golf course and being saved by the fireman Teddy. Cece’s story is less embarrassing, as her first time also happened on prom night. Just with Mick Jagger.
Schmidt’s happened in college, but it was prefaced by him and a high-on-mushrooms Nick wrestling in lube to the music of Boyz II Men. Winston, thanks to going to a business meeting with Nick and his dad, has a first time with a prostitute named Mysteria. The only person whose first time we don’t see is Nick, who relays to Jess that it was a very sweet experience unlike the rest of theirs.
Now from here, the episode could’ve ended, with Jess seeing the sweet and romantic side of Nick. But instead, Nick goes after Jess on her way to meet Teddy, picks her up and takes her to his bedroom, where after almost two years of will-they-or-won’t-they, they do.
New Girl has gotten so incredibly good at conclusions, making each new episode of the show arguably the most satisfying half-hour of television you can see in a week. With just a few final moments at the end of each one, New Girl turns their very good episodes into borderline-great work. Even in these last few months where each episode brings the Nick and Jess storyline ever closer to them ultimately getting together, New Girl surprises and handles all of its elements better than just about any other comedy on television right now.