Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Girl 2.07: "Menzies"

“I feel like I want to murder someone. And also, I want soft pretzels.”

While I found this episode hilarious all the way through, I started out being kind of irked by the overall plotline. By the end of the episode, though, the writers turned it around. What started out as an episode that seemed to mock PMS and being a woman in general turned into most of the characters exploring why they were angry, afraid to take major steps in life, or both. PMS just turned out to be an excuse for bad behavior. Really, the only character who didn’t make emotional progress in this episode was Schmidt. Schmidt’s plot could have been cartoonish, but it was really just sad. We can see that even post break-up with Cece, Schmidt still has no sense of self-worth. He talks a big game, but inside, he feels he’s a monster, and he’s willing to take abuse from his boss because he feels it’s what he deserves. I guess Winston doesn’t make all that much emotional progress, but he does at least admit he misses Shelby. He doesn’t suffer a setback like Schmidt. Nick and Jess probably both make the most progress of the episode, but in Jess’ case, she had to go through a lot to get to that point. This was a really good character episode overall.

The episode opens with Schmidt organizing the monthly ritual of paying the loft utility bills. Everyone contributes their share except for Jess. She’s broke, which seems to be a pretty regular occurrence since losing her job, even though she’s had part-time work here and there. The rest of the guys are tired of bailing her out and they want her to get a job already. Schmidt takes this a step farther and says he’s going to have the gas turned off until Jess gets a good enough job that she can pay her share. Jess is incredibly pissed off by this, and she says that she can’t work on job searching because she’s PMS-ing. She does, with the extra motivation provided by Schmidt, get an interview at an adult education center, but she blows it. The hiring manager shows Jess a picture of a tiny dog in a teacup, and Jess starts crying. Then the hiring manager tells Jess that the dog died a few years ago, and Jess completely loses it.

Meanwhile, Nick takes the big argument over money/PMS as an opportunity to work on his own anger issues. He goes for a walk and sits on a park bench, and an older Asian man named Tran sits down uncomfortably close to him. Nick just starts talking to Tran, with Tran saying nothing back. It turns into a full-on venting session for Nick, which is one of those scenes that reaffirms that montages of Jake Johnson saying random stuff is never not funny. In one of the stranger aspects of this episode, Tran offers some rather unique help for Nick’s anger issues. He takes Nick to a pool and performs “water massage,” which mostly involves Tran cradling Nick like a baby in the water. It’s kind of awkward. Something about it works for Nick, though. It releases his tension and makes him less angry. He’s pretty jubilant when he shares this with the rest of the roommates. Winston, on the other hand, has descended into “sympathy PMS,” which was kind of stupid until his admission at the end of the episode that he was just moping because he misses Shelby.

Anyway, when Jess announces that she blew her interview, Nick decides to take her to the pool. He kind of throws her around in the water more than anything else, and it definitely doesn’t look relaxing, but Jess does make an important admission. She admits that she hasn’t been horrible about job searching lately because of PMS. She’s just afraid to put herself out there again after feeling like such a failure for being laid off. With newfound confidence, Jess goes back to the adult education center, re-interviews for the job, and gets the job. Jess, Nick, and Schmidt throw the most hilarious celebration in the loft, jumping around to, you guessed it, “Jump Around.” I have a soft spot for 90’s hip hop- what else can I say? It was one of those quintessential “New Girl” moments that makes the show a goofy joy to watch. As I said in the introduction, I just really appreciated that what seemed to be a typical attempt at period humor got turned on its head and had two characters admitting that the problem wasn’t really PMS (or “sympathy PMS” in Winston’s case), it was something deeper, and they needed to confront that.

And now we move on to the sad story of Schmidt. Schmidt has dinner with Cece and Robbie, and he tells them about how he flirted with a senior VP named Emma at his company. Schmidt decides to pursue things with Emma (since Cece’s showing no sign of leaving Robbie any time soon), and Emma presents him with the contract to end all contracts. I guess she really wants to avoid that sexual harassment lawsuit. Schmidt doesn’t agree to sign the contract right away, but he doesn’t say “no,” either. Then Cece comes over and she and Schmidt talk in Schmidt’s bedroom and they get rather close. Robbie has told Cece that she’s a nice person, and she wants to prove him wrong by cheating on him with Schmidt. Just as Schmidt makes his move, though, Cece has second thoughts. She is a nice person after all, and she doesn’t want to hurt Robbie in that way. Schmidt, however, is convinced he’s a monster. He goes back to Emma and signs the contract, telling her that because he’s a monster, he’s up for whatever she has in store. That whatever turns out to be bondage, which is just kind of awkward and sad. I never thought I’d finish a “New Girl” episode feeling most sorry for Schmidt.

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