I made a mistake in giving three stars to last week’s New Girl, “Julie Berkman’s Older Sister.” That was a two-star episode at the very best. No matter how much I loved hearing Max Greenfield say “punting the Great Fantastic,” the majority of the episode was plotty and schmoopy and hug-y and learn-y, and in giving it three stars, I unknowingly undermined the four stars I am giving “Micro,” the first episode since season four’s premiere to renew my faith in a New Girl renaissance.
“Micro” opens with a conversation about which decade had the best-looking boobs, which is saved from “boys are cavemen”-style reductiveness by the revelation that Winston has a deep-rooted Sesame Street fetish. Jess is quick to interject that looks aren’t everything and that human beings can’t be reduced to a body part, but she finds herself tested by both of these notions when she meets an absurdly hot guy who has the chin of Buzz Lightyear … and the package of a GI Joe. He has what is medically known as a micropenis, and you know what? Good on him for owning up to it right off the bat.
Nick bets Jess one porn-site subscription that, given the endowment described in the episode as looking like “she won’t date the guy for more than a month.” It’s basically the exact plot of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, only filled with more penis anxiety.
The anxiety, of course, is all Nick’s — men have more hangups about penises, both their own and those of others, than women ever have or will — and Jess heads out on her date with Generic Hot Guy Who Also Might Be Lady Gaga’s Bland Chicago Fire Boyfriend I’m Not Sure. As it turns out, his micropenis is one thing, but his affection for lame street art and lamer tattoos is another.
From “an anteater being born” to “is there a god and he ran out of clay?,” this episode absolutely aced the jabs at GHGWAMBLGBCFBINS (the character’s real name is Matt, but does it matter?) and his underwhelming package. Funny as it was, I hope any micropenised New Girl fans watching recognized just how little Matt’s size ultimately mattered. The part of me that has always secretly wanted to be Carrie Bradshaw is dying to write, “I couldn’t help but wonder: Did he really have a micropenis, or just a microheart?”
The relationship doesn’t work out, and Jess is forced to buy Nick a subscription to Ass Chat, the absolute best made-up porn-site name in television history. “Ass Chat”? What would that even be? It sounds like a message board for chill proctologists.
As it turns out, everyone’s got a little micropenis in them … metaphorically, of course. Jess’s is her wonky knee, which I kind of wish the show left to the imagination — was anything actually wrong with Zooey Deschanel’s knee? (Physically, is anything actually wrong with Zooey Deschanel? She’s an unprecedented level of adorable. She’s like the model for Margaret Keane’s ModCloth line.) Schmidt’s is his history as a fat kid. Nick’s is the fact that he looks like a “Depression-era garbageman.”
By the way, Damon Wayans Jr. is the MVP of the episode. He might just be the MVP of the season thus far, between his delivery of the garbageman line and the fact that he managed to figure out exactly how a ghost would sing “Hey Ya.” If I ever had any doubt that there was room in the gang for Coach, it has now dissipated completely.
Winston and Cece decide to prank Schmidt and Coach by convincing them that Cece’s agency is looking to recruit one new male model. Why this is the prank they chose to pull, and why Winston and Cece are now pranksters-in-cahoots at all, is never addressed by the episode, except to point out multiple times that, yes, this is coming from out of nowhere (“Cece and Winston mess-arounds” should, however, definitely become a regular thing).
Coach and Schmidt battle it out doing poses like “hot guy with kidnapped son” and “cuddles with tigers,” and ultimately, Coach realizes that Schmidt needs the win more than he does. To avoid hurt feelings, Winston and Cece buy Schmidt a billboard in Koreatown. Incidentally, if you can read Korean and want to translate that sign for me, I’m sure I’m not alone in dying to know what it says.
It was so much fun to have all of the main characters playing off each other in situations that didn’t actually try their relationships in any real ways. The fact that Cece and Schmidt are now allowed to have intersecting story lines that have nothing to do with their romantic history or future bodes well for what this season holds for Nick and Jess.
Oh, and other shows, take note: New Girl does an excellent job of establishing close male friendships that look and feel like real-life close male friendships without ever feeling the need to reassert the heterosexuality of all parties involved. The best part is, even if any of the male characters on New Girl revealed a same-sex predilection, you get the distinct feeling that the rest of their bros would be cool about it.
On the whole, very little happens in “Micro” that will have any bearing on the arc of the show as a whole, and I think that’s what I like best about it. When given too much weight to support, New Girl buckles easily. Why, then, isn’t the answer to only ever fill it with froth? If every episode were as self-contained and simple as “Micro,” I’d have absolutely no problem with that. No weddings holding a ticking clock over the season, no complicated familial relationships to untangle, no underwhelming guest-stars to shoehorn in. It’s the TV-show equivalent of a bubble bath and a glass of wine.
Last thought: Of course Winston picked Paula Cole’s “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone” on the bar jukebox. Of course he did.