New Girl Review: “Menus” (Season 3, Episode 8)


Who knew a simple menu for a Chinese restaurant could be a catalyst for change? Who’d have thought that piece of laminated paper that so often ends up on your doormat could prove to be the metaphorical straw that metaphorically breaks the metaphorical camel’s metaphorical back?

This week’s New Girl proves definitively that a simple menu can have that effect, if used in the correct way. If you’d permit me to go a bit too far in my analysis, I think that “Menus” is trying to tell us that the most insignificant things can, if viewed in the right light, help us achieve greater things.

So the apartment gets menus slipped under the door. No big deal, right? Who cares if a menu gets slipped under the door now and again? It’s not a crime, is it? If you’re ordering Chinese food for breakfast, as Nick does when he spies the menu lying at the door, then that might just be a crime against your digestive system, but no big deal ultimately.

Or is it?

Jess doesn’t mind. In fact, it seems like she quite likes it. They’ve been going out for a few months now, and Nick feels like he’s got to the stage that Jess can see him in this way, like he no longer really has to pretend that this isn’t a part of his personality. To the brand new returnee, Coach, his actions seem slovenly. I think to most viewers, Nick’s actions would seem slovenly – it’s not just a quirk of Coach’s intense personality. So he endeavours to train Nick, ostensibly to try and get him out of his funk but, as the episode goes on, we see that Coach might just have his own reasons for wanting to train Nick. Personal reasons.

The reveal that Coach’s attempt to train Nick being a way of proving to himself that he can still coach, after feeling emasculated by his break up with Malia, was really nice. I mean, it wasn’t all that – come on, Nick does need a trainer. He is somebody who needs a kick up the ass to do anything that requires effort, and between them, Coach and Jess are a pretty effective team. Obviously a bit of that rubs off on Nick eventually, when they both lose enthusiasm for their own reasons – Coach for having failed to instil any kind of motivation in Nick; Jess for having failed in taking the kids on their field trip to the seaside (more on that later) – and he decides to give his own rousing, positive speech. He’s not a motivational speaker, not at all, but ultimately it became more meaningful because it was obvious that he was channelling what he thought Coach would say and what he thought Jess might say. He was thinking about what they’d like to hear, and trying to give it to them. And it was nice, even if his karate kick baffled Jess slightly – but it worked, because it did inspire in Jess a way of getting her kids out of the city, to finally see the ocean.