Every sitcom from Friends to Community has done an episode like “Micro”, one that examines the Fatal Flaw of every main character, only to remind us all that in the end, it’s the biggest flaws that make us individual, and embracing them in others makes us all better, happier, more fulfilled people. It’s a simple, stock sitcom story, an easy avenue for fun little running character gags and some real emotive underpinnings, usually focused around someone realizing that imperfection is really perfection, re-igniting a relationship or creating a stronger bond between our protagonists.
Essentially a twenty-minute string of jokes about small dicks, porn, and modeling, “Micro” completes none of those things (and does so while being a surprisingly unfunny episode in the process). It’s not that “Micro” is tone deaf or anything; exploring our culture’s fixation to superficiality is something worth talking about, whether it’s on a comedy or a drama. “Micro” just has nothing to add to the conversation, just another New Girl episode focused on Jess starting over – and apparently learning how to date from scratch, something I find really weird for a show about 30-somethings to be doing, particularly in its fourth season, when every character has had multiple relationships.
These aren’t subtle lessons of life and love being expressed with these well-known characters: this is simplistic slapstick comedy, one that plays with its script so loosely, there’s no weight to anything at all, particularly the fluffy ending where Coach, Winston, and CeCe feed Schmidt’s body obsession and Jess celebrates the fact she can accept a flawed human being into her life (she dated Nick for nearly an entire season, for fuck’s sake!). Worst of all, it’s all lined with unfunny jokes about porn sites called Ass Chat, stereotypes about how all guys are into porn (and most of the time, weird porn) – and worst of all, multiple cheeky attempts to make “micro-penis” a synonym for “damning physical/emotional flaw” (because the guy Jess dates this episode tells her he has a micro penis, which is his Micro Penis… ha-ha?).
It just doesn’t work, and lacks any kind of meaningful climatic moment: after flat lining for twenty minutes while Jess goes on another date we can tell is doomed from the start, the episode just kind of ends. Schmidt gets a fake modeling ad, Jess is pardoned from dating the man with a big penis because the script made him an insufferable asshole, and everyone gets to smile: while it’s nice that New Girl hasn’t forgotten what a happy ending was (after last season, which closed with a number of painful post-episode sign-offs), it would be nice if the show could execute it in a way that wasn’t so uninspired, something they’ve struggled with through the first few episodes. The predecessors to “Micro” at least had some solid jokes to fall back on: packed to the brim with jokes about genitals and guys being gross sexually, “Micro” doesn’t have the advantage of humor to cover its flaws (like what happened to every character except Jess getting meaningful material?), issues that are slowly becoming more apparent with each passing week.