'New Girl': Death is funny and kind of amazing in 'Chicago'

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It's a good comedy that can take the most serious of subjects -- death -- and produce an episode that's as funny as it is heartfelt. "New Girl" did just that with "Chicago," an episode almost entirely devoted to the death and funeral of Nick's father.

The story felt real. The complicated emotions weren't ignored. And the laughs all came from places that felt true. You can laugh in the face of death, but the tears need to be there too.


Relative maturity

In terms of normal adult standards of maturity, Nick ( Jake Johnson) is the most immature of the roommates on "New Girl." He has no particular ambitions, works in a bar and only barely knows how to take care of himself.

But as we learn in "Chicago," maturity is a relative concept -- as in, what is immature among your peers counts as mature with your relatives. Nick is, as it turns out, the mature and sensible Miller. He is the one who has always kept the family moving forward, despite foolish relations and a criminal father.

It's a new side to Nick. And there's nothing wrong with that.


The Jess-Nick of it all

There is certainly nothing wrong with Nick's sudden maturity when seen through the eyes of Jess ( Zooey Deschanel). On the one hand, this isn't much of an episode for the shippers -- nothing is said explicitly and nothing happens between them. On the other, both Nick and Jess get to see clearly why they have feelings for the other.

The tragic circumstances surrounding the funeral bring out the best in both characters. Fortunately for us, the best includes Jess in an Elvis costume singing what appears to be the only Elvis Presley song she knows, "In the Ghetto."


Winston and Schmidt face death

Death may not bring out the best in the other two roommates, Winston ( Lamorne Morris) and Schmidt ( Max Greenfield). Schmidt is, not surprisingly, terrified of death and corpses and jackets with buttons that make no sense. Winston meanwhile comes up against the fact that he may have been closer to Mr. Miller than anyone actually related by blood.

Both young men have breakdowns and are generally useless. Useless works.


Dreaming of Emmys, Emmys and more Emmys

If there were any justice in the TV world (spoiler alert: there isn't), this particular episode of "New Girl" would net bags full of awards for everyone associated with "Chicago." Both Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel -- definitely the leads of this episode -- quietly express every aspect of their fully formed characters. Max Greenfield does his typical insanity beautifully, and even Lamorne Morris gets a chance to play a real character who we want to get to know better.

And then there's the guest cast. While everyone from Aunt Ruthie to Drunk Elvis is excellent, Margo Martindale may be the shining star of "Chicago." She alternates between sentimental, terrifying, foolish, tragic and silly, and every transition is perfect. If we could get Mrs. Miller on every episode of this show, that would be just fine.


They say funny things

"Don't booby trap me! Shut up!" -- Nick to the balloons

"He loved me more than he loved you. He told me that." -- Winston on Nick's dad
"Yeah, he told me that too." -- Nick

"That bastard was a saint! A saint! The bastard..." -- Nick's mom

"Is Nick taking care of people?" -- Jess

"I didn't really know your dad, except the one hour that I committed fraud with him." -- Jess
"That's all there is to know, really." -- Nick

"For Elvis-themed music, what about Elvis?" -- Jess

"I don't even know how to use these buttons." -- Schmidt

"Death, Winston. Death. Death..." -- Schmidt

"He had a gold chain as thick as floss... But like thick floss." -- Jamie

"You left us too soon, you beautiful black butterfly..." -- Schmidt to not-dead Winston

"$2000? What if it wasn't six feet under? How about three feet under?" -- Nick

"You want some of my weed?" -- Aunt Ruthie

"You don't think Elvis is important? Elvis is everything!" -- Nick's mom

"It's bad luck to see the body before a funeral." -- Schmidt

"I have your back, no matter what. No matter how stupid it gets. And you and I both know, it can get really, really stupid." -- Jess

"Keep it light, keep it happy. Don't mention the felony thing. Or Paraguay. Or the storage space." -- Nick's mom

"You know, this is every day in North Korea." -- Winston

"He was very good at gambling. He had a cool mustache. And he was so mean to cabbies in such a cool way." -- Nick's eulogy

"I really feel transported to the ghetto." -- Schmidt

"You scare me." -- Jess to Nick's mom

Photo/Video credit: FOX