Liz Meriwether, the series’ creator, has spoken at length about New Girl’s ability to succeed when there is a strong emotional undercurrent to the stories being told. They’ve done that to some extent here – CeCe’s difficult relationship with her mother and fear that she will not approve of Schmidt is rife with conflict and is reflective of a real problem that people face when introducing a partner to their family.
However, all of that opportunity is squandered as the characters get tied up in a Bollywood number. While we do get some comedy out of Schmidt’s desperate attempts to garner praise from Mrs. P, it feels like this storyline is a real missed opportunity in terms of exploring who CeCe is as a character, and what this means for the future of her and Schmidt’s relationship.
The episode makes a similar move in relation to Winston, whose evolution throughout the series has perhaps been the rockiest of all the characters – and the most fun to watch. In fact, I could watch Winston questioning his cat Ferguson about his whereabouts for a whole episode (“Have you been hanging down by the warf again?”). The writers have always struggled to find something for Winston to do, but he’s found his footing as a cop and has flourished into a prank-loving odd bird who is a joyful addition to any scene.
Winston’s story starts out strong as he attempts to come to terms with his local fame. While the writers could have explored this deeper – Winston is insane, there is so much fun to be had in his inevitable erratic reaction to his new status – they instead halt his storyline midway, when he decides to ignore the attention by transforming into his Prank Sinatra persona. While I’d be delighted to hear Winston’s prankster past be referenced anecdotally, or even see it in flashback, devoting an entire chunk of the episode to a rehashed version of a storyline we’ve already seen feels repetitive and lazy.
The show dips into the Well of Seasons Past again with Jess’ continued melodic “Year of Us” proclamations. New Girl has been using Jess’ singing as a punchline since the pilot, but we haven’t seen it quite this much since season 1. Unfortunately, when paired with Winston’s story, these moments feel less like a callback to past seasons, and more like a show that is trying desperately to recycle things that worked once before in order to prove it’s still alive.
That being said, New Girl still manages to deliver a few solid laughs every episode. CeCe describing Schmidt as the “slim-hipped ghost of Tom Cruise” was a much-needed moment of sass from a character who seems to have lost some of her snark in the midst of this honeymoon phase. These moments are what the show does best – tight one-liners that shine in their specificity. It’s just enough to keep you returning for the next episode.
As the season continues toward CeCe and Schmidt’s wedding, it will be interesting to see if New Girl will pick up steam or lose its momentum all together. With Deschanel taking half the season off, it’s hard to know what kind of shape the show will be left in – especially since it is already suffering from its core characters being kept apart. Luckily, New Girl has proven its ability to cycle its main cast in the past, so there is hope.
And who knows, maybe Megan Fox, who will be recurring as the boys’ new roommate, will be just the person to pump some life back into this tired show.
While New Girl continues to churn out solid jokes, its new season suffers from repetitive plotlines and fails to capitalize on the chemistry of its talented cast.