I'M AFRAID I MIGHT have to be the Grinch this Halloween. In this week’s battle of the Thirtysomething Lady Sitcoms, I am willing to concede that Mindy Project is the winner, but it’s the winner by an improbable knockout — the aforementioned jaw-droppingly well-written and well-performed phone call between Mindy and a first-grader. Scoring these episodes on points earned, I’d say it’s a little more of a draw. As we spoke about last week, New Girl is floundering a bit structurally, dropping plotlines inexplicably, and refusing to fully commit to a seriality that would make it more like Arrested Development than the Big Bang Theory-meets-performance art it kind of currently is. That said, a lot of chickens — plot threads — came home to roost this episode, and it felt a bit like a clearing house. The episode was all about servicing relationships: Winston/Shelby, Schmidt/Cece/Robbie, Jess/Dr. Sam, plus all those make-out fake-outs between Nick and Jess. (Specifically, I’m thinking about the tentative gazes post high-five in the hallway and post-punch on the couch.) So, despite the overload, and the fact that the writers seem to have a grudge against Lamorne Morris (why can’t Winston have a good Woody Allen impersonation?), this episode was heavy on what New Girl does best: character work. Schmidt’s irresistible douchebaggery, Nick’s charming cowardliness, Jess’s inability to be casual, etc. What’s more, it’s building up Robbie as a swell guy we’ll all be sad to see leave when Cece starts splitting rails again with Young Abe Lincoln.
If New Girl is strong on character and weak on plot, though, I often find Mindy to have the opposite problem. Lili, I completely agree that the extended Peanuts allusion brilliantly structures the episode, which, not coincidentally, was written by Chris McKenna, the screenwriter of last year’s most notable piece of pop pastiche, Community&r...read more