The Telefile
<i>New Girl</i>: The Do’s and Don’ts of Ordering Chinese Food

For an already muddled season of New Girl, last night's "Menus" felt even more aimless than most episodes. Not a single story line worked: Coach tried to train a lazy Nick, Schmidt missed being in the apartment, Jess waged war against a Chinese restaurant because of their excessive menu loitering and poor, poor Winston was nothing more than a prop to point and laugh at. My only hope for Season 3 at this point is that it pulls a Season 2 and starts off messy, but ends things on a very high note. Because it's not just a matter of weak plot lines, it's that the chemistry and vibe that made the show so great last year feels all but nonexistent. I don't even feel the spark between Nick and Jess anymore. Maybe that's because Nick has become the grown-up and Jess is regressing back to being a childish girl, and while I appreciate character growth, I'd prefer them to grow into people we actually want to see together. Until Nick and Jess and the rest of New Girl gets its groove back, here are the do's and don'ts from "Menus":

Do: Work out to "Work Bitch"
Physical comedy has always been one of New Girl's strong suits, so it was a joy to watch Coach (Damon Wayans Jr., a master of physical comedy) try and train Nick (Jake Johnson is not so shabby in the physical department himself, particularly when he's dancing or running), who is wearing jeans and orders Chinese halfway through the workout. (The dumpling slap fight was the episode's highlight). It was like some alternate world Karate Kid training montage and I hope Coach doesn't give up on Nick because these two work (bitch) well together.

Don't: Wage war against a Chinese restaurant
Zooey Deschanel hasn't been given much to do this season besides bat her eyes at the likes of Jake Johnson and Taye Diggs (nice work if you can get it). so it was just as disappointing to watch her wage war against a Chinese restaurant because of their menus. (It was really a way for her to try and get some control because she had no control with her boss at work regarding a field trip, but either way, it was a bad story line). Yes, it is annoying when restaurants leave countless menus at your door, but somehow Jess turned out to be the annoying one in this scenario. She was cloying and screeching and had yet another meltdown when a man commented on her looks. Deschanel is such a better comic actress than most people give her credit for and the writers should give Jess more credit than all this.

Do: Bring the gang back to the beach
"Injured" is one of the very best episodes of New Girl to date, and a good chunk of that episode took place on the beach. So when Jess finally got to bring her students on a class trip to the beach and Nick, Schmidt, Coach, and Winston tagged along (because this is television, after all), it was nice to see them back in that environment. Maybe all five (sorry Cece, you can keep delivering Chinese food, I don't miss you at all) can just keep going to the beach to keep things fun.

Don't: Keep making Winston the victim
For the longest time, New Girl didn't know what to do with Winston. He started as a background player, moved up to full-blown crazy person, and has now become a human punching bag. In "Menus" he was, among other humiliations, constantly falling down, getting attacked by children, suffering an allergic reaction that causes lock jaw and desperately grasping at straws for attention (he put himself in a wheelchair, which was only worthwhile because Nick referred to him as "Street" -- Friday Night Lights forever!). But worst of all, he looked like a chump in the eyes of Coach and for a character (and actor Lamorne Morris) that's been living in his shadow since the second episode of Season 1, this just seems cruel.

Dumpling: The way Schmidt pronounces "Chinese"
"Cha-nese." It's not the best Schmidt-ism of all time, but the talented Max Greenfield needs to do more than pine from across the hall.

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