Liz Meriwether, creator of New Girl, directed just two episodes throughout the course of the series: “Cruise” in Season 4 and “No Girl” in Season 5. In both episodes, Meriwether honors the characters’ hardships, despite the comedy of the situations. “Cruise” starts off with Nick and Jess forcing the rest of the gang to join them on a cruise they booked while they were still a couple. No one wants to go, and we discover Coach is deathly afraid of water. “No Girl” starts with Jess being sequestered for jury duty. Winston panics that no one will help him with his “girl problems”, while Schmidt and Nick try to plan an extravagant bachelor party without tapping into their obnoxious college friend’s unlimited resources.
Both episodes have a recurring bit where one character has a full breakdown in reaction to every situation. In “Cruise”, Coach breaks down whenever he thinks about the hazards of being on the water. This begins with the disaster demonstration led by guest star Oscar Nunez, and we later find Coach alone crying and singing in his life vest.
In “No Girl”, Winston breaks into ear splitting wails whenever problems with his girlfriend overwhelm him without Jess steadying his presence. The camera cuts to an isolated Winston wailing for 30 seconds in the bathroom, and later we see him repeat the same action while riding a stationary bike.
Meriwether encourages her actors to take their time; letting the scenes breathe before cutting. By creating space between scenarios, she’s directing a traditional sitcom to mirror actual life, despite the apparent absurdity.
She allows her audience to relate by letting moments linger in a realistic manner. This exploits human emotion by heightening the natural tension between joy and discomfort—exaggerating these moments to extract maximum comedic effect rather than crafting the episode around jokes. We therefore engage with the characters in a more intimate way. We see ourselves in their real emotion and identify with what they’re experiencing.
It’s these aspects of Meriwether’s storytelling that make her episodes so enjoyable to watch, and ultimately make New Girl stand out from other shows in their traditional sitcom genre.
Talking Back Pictures was founded in 2015 by Emma Kreienberg and Nicole Palermo. We are dedicated to authentically telling meaningful stories from women’s experiences; with women at the helm of telling those stories. Our projects unapologetically explore mental health from a woman’s perspective and represent true inclusivity by mandating that at least 50% of key crew are women in every production.